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Mowing and discipleship: Summer lessons from my son

imitation boy dad mowing

Bonita R. Cheshier | Shutterstock

Mark Haas - published on 07/11/23

There's not much need to explain the nuances, rules, and regulations when we have clear what discipleship really is.

What does it mean to be a disciple? Strictly speaking, a disciple is someone who is learning any skill or trade from someone else. The word is derived from the Old English, discipul, meaning “one who follows another for the purpose of learning.” From a Biblical perspective, the term comes from the Latin, discipulus, meaning “pupil, student, follower.” 

In the Four Gospels, the term is particularly applied to the Apostles, sometimes called the “twelve disciples.” In addition to the twelve Apostles, there was also a large group of seventy-two “disciples” that had been chosen by Jesus. Also, in the Book of Acts, the term was used to describe all converts, the believers, both men and women.

Being a disciple of Christ means to leave everything of this world, and follow Him (see Mt. 19:21). It means to “take up our cross and follow Him” (Lk. 9:23). It also means that we must be more like Him. As disciples, we are called to “be imitators of God” (Eph. 5:1).

To be imitators of God. 

My wife and I have been blessed with seven children: five girls and two boys. We have noticed that our children are constantly imitating us. They simply watch what we are doing, and they turn and repeat the same thing (the good things and the bad things!). 

When my wife does her hair and makeup, the girls ask if they can have decorated hair and makeup. When I drink my morning coffee, the kids ask if they can drink coffee. When I yell at an erratic driver, the kids all yell the same thing.

One weekly routine that I have is to mow the grass. Now, there is nothing cooler to my young toddler boys than mowing grass. They are constantly asking if they can mow the grass like daddy. So, for one of their birthdays, we bought a new Fisher-Price lawnmower. It came complete with a gas can, starter pull cord, and a loud “clicking” sound that was activated when you pushed the mower. 

When it’s grass-mowing time, my son is ready! The following routine ensues: I pull out my mower; toddler pulls out his mower. I fill up the mower with gas; he fills up with his gas. I pull my cord to start; he pulls his cord to start. I start pushing in lines; he starts pushing in lines. I wipe sweat from my head with my shirt; he swipes sweat from his head with his shirt. All the while, I’m explaining none of this to him. He simply watches his dad, and he does the same.

Suddenly, the lightbulb went off in my head: This is the perfect example of discipleship! I didn’t have a to explain the nuances of grass-mowing to him. I didn’t have to prep him with a bunch of rules, terms or conditions. I simply had to show him, and he imitated me.

This is just like our heavenly Father. We are like children who want desperately to be like our Daddy. And God doesn’t need to miraculously appear to us to explain the details. All we need to do is follow his example as demonstrated in Holy Scripture. We need to be poor in spirit, pure of heart, meek and humble (see Mt. 5:1-12). We need to have the heart of a little child (see Mt. 18:3). We need to be baptized, receive the Lord in Holy Communion, and do the Father’s will through charitable works (see John 3:5, John 6:53, Mt. 7:21). 

The Lord has demonstrated for us how to be with Him forever in heaven. All we need to do is to be like children and follow Him.

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