In the context of a discussion about personal discipleship, a friend recently recommended I read the little booklet, Many Aspire, Few Attain by Walter A. Henrichsen. Henrichsen was an early leader in the Navigators organization, which places such a great deal of emphasis on “life-on-life” discipleship and the practical disciplines of Bible Study, prayer, Scripture memory, etc. The recommendation came with a caveat, however.
“Reading that booklet is like eating nails.”
At least that had been his impression when he first read it in college, and Henrichsen’s blunt counsel about how few who begin to follow Christ whole-heartedly actually persevere to the end certainly is not for the faint of heart. He offers 14 concise, sharply articulated pitfalls to avoid, sounding very much like a drill sargeant getting acquainted with enlistees on the first day of boot camp. You can just picture the college students for whom this address was originally directed quivering under his steely gaze as they listen to his words. But it was good for my soul.
Reason number 11 why many aspire but few attain is that they are “unable to accept a rebuke.” Here is what he had to say . . .
Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee; rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Proverbs 9:8
“When was the last time someone rebuked you – the last time someone sat down and instructed you more perfectly in the way? If it has not been recently, it is because people don’t consider you to be wise. They think you are a scorner. They are afraid if they rebuke you, you won’t take it. Don’t deceive yourself into believing that you haven’t been rebuked lately because you haven’t needed it. You need it. The question is, are you getting it? You can tell whether or not people think you are wise by how often they rebuke you.” (Walter A. Henrichsen, Many Aspire, Few Attain, NavPress Publishing 2008, 31)