*NOTE: The new Discipleship Pathway layout flipped Modules 2 & 5;
Module 5 is now Guidance and Module 2 is now Confession. If you were using the old version and starting Module 5, complete the below module on Confession in its place, and then continue on with Module 6.
DISCUSS the following questions from the Vulnerability Works video.
1. How would you define vulnerability? What were the examples of Chris Dessi’s vulnerability in his TEDtalk video?
2. Chris felt drawn to be vulnerable and publish the stories of the deaths of his daughter and best friend. Chris said this level of vulnerability was absolutely “terrifying.” Why is being vulnerable about our insecurities, fears, and mishaps so terrifying?
3. One definition of vulnerability is “the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” Whenever we open up about a touchy issue of how we feel or what we did, we take off the masks that are supposed to “protect” us. The fear of being attacked or harmed over how we really feel becomes very real!
What are some of the defenses (or “masks” according to the video) people use to protect themselves from revealing who they really are or how they truly feel?
4. Despite the fear of being exposed, how could bottling up our insecurities, fears, and mishaps be even more dangerous?
5. Believe it or not, vulnerability is a core part of confession. Confession is the act of admitting what we did was wrong or how we feel isn’t okay. Vulnerability is mustering up the courage to actually admit these things, despite the possibility of being harmed. Vulnerability makes confession possible.
How does vulnerability and confession go hand-in-hand?
6. Chris had to muster a bunch of courage to publish his stories. After he did so, he was shocked by the large amount of supportive reactions from his family, friends, and even people he had never met! He said it like he “received a blanket of warmth” and felt deeply loved. What does this tell us about the benefits of vulnerability?
7. Brene Brown is a leading expert on vulnerability and shame. She says that we tend to think of vulnerability as a sign of weakness. However, being vulnerable is what makes joy, love, belonging, creativity, and faith even possible. How could you see vulnerability playing a key part in experiencing these things?
8. What does the thought of being vulnerable mean to you? Are you comfortable with being vulnerable? Does it make you want to shrivel up like a prune? Why?
9. Take some time to close your meeting practicing vulnerability with your disciple. As the discipler, you may have to exemplify for this for your disciple first. Consider these prompts to get your conversation going:
How have you been feeling lately?
Is there anything you’re holding on to that feels like it’s holding you back?
Is there something that’s felt a little off lately in your life? Talk about that.
What are you wrestling with?
What are you confused about?
Is there anything you’d like to just get off your chest?
ASSIGNMENT: Before the next meeting, read the essay, “Holy Confrontation” attached below. Take notes, and come ready to discuss at your next meeting.
A Lesson from the Life of David
By Megan Koch
A classic Russian author once wrote, “Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.” He’s right. It seems our ability to deceive ourselves may be one of humanity’s most stunning achievements. There appears to be no limit to the ways we can justify our behavior within our own minds.
The story of David’s “sin spiral” in 2 Samuel 11–12 is a bit like watching a pile-up on the interstate—one disaster leads to another. David digs himself deeper and deeper into the ground with every decision he makes. We’re appalled, maybe even disgusted, at these events in King David’s life—yet we can’t seem to look away.
The narrator gives us a clue early in the story that this isn’t going to go well. It appears David was doing something good kings shouldn’t do: he was enjoying the comforts of home while his men were off fighting his battles:
“In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem,” (2 Sam. 11:1 NLT, emphasis added).
Sin often begins when we convince ourselves that the rules don’t apply to us.
That’s where it started for David. We won’t recount all the ugly details of how he slept with another man’s wife, tried to cover it up, and eventually had the husband killed. When the prophet Nathan comes on the scene and tells David a parable (2 Sam. 12:1–4), we all see what’s coming. David, however, appears clueless, going on a righteous sounding rant about what a horrible thing the person in the parable had done. Then Nathan drops the hammer: “You are that man!” (v. 7).
David’s story is a powerful reminder of how deeply we can deceive ourselves—not only because it happened to David, but also because it acts as a mirror for us. Have you ever sat down to get a haircut and looked in the mirror on the wall, only to notice the reflection of the mirror on the wall behind you, which was in turn reflecting the mirror in front of you, and on and on? That’s what this story does: it lets us look in a mirror by looking at a mirror.
When Nathan tells David the parable, he’s holding up a mirror before David. David doesn’t realize it, which makes the moment the “hammer drops” extra rich. However, we should realize that when we read the story of David, it is acting as a parable for our own behavior, too. It serves as our mirror. We feel anger and resentment toward David for the horrible things he did. But before we walk away, we must also have our own “hammer” moment. This is, at some level, our story as well. We are that man or woman.
Lying to ourselves is deeply ingrained in us, just like it was with David.
This is not to say we’ve all done the exact things that David did. But before we pat ourselves on the back, we would do well to ask ourselves how we’re more like David than we realize. The bottom line is this: we need trustworthy friends to call us out. Already, we’ve talked about the importance of us being vulnerable about how we’re feeling and what we’ve done with a trusted friend. On the flip side, we also need that trusted friend to confront us when we need to be vulnerable about how we’re feeling or what we’ve done.
Until the “Nathans” in our lives take us to task, we’ll continue to deceive ourselves, just like David. We should not only welcome opportunities for this sort of Holy confrontation, but actually invite them as a regular part of our lives.
Who is your “Nathan?” Who can give you the gift of holy confrontation, calling you out when you know you could be doing better? While such a thing may sound uncomfortable, know that few things form a tighter bond than having that level of trust with someone. When someone knows who we are, but loves us anyway? That is a priceless gift.
Speaking of gifts, after Nathan confronted David, David went on to pen one of the most powerful chapters of the Bible: Psalm 51. It may be that few have sinned more flagrantly than David, but it’s also true that few have repented more earnestly. Perhaps this is what the Bible means when it calls David a man after God’s own heart. David wasn’t perfect. He was repentant when he realized he had fallen short.
Take a moment and pray slowly through each line of the Psalm, and learn the art of repentance from a man who knew what it meant to be broken.
For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.
2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.
3 For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.
4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.
5 For I was born a sinner-- yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
6 But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.
7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me-- now let me rejoice.
9 Don't keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don't take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
15 Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.
16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
18 Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit-- with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.