1 Corinth. 3: “Mr. Miyagi and Discipleship”


I remember the first word my daughter spoke, but of course I do, it was Da-Da. I was so excited when she said that I screamed and scared her. But because of my celebration she kept saying it, and every time she said it, we celebrated.

It’s a cute story, but how sad would it be if she never advanced in her language skills past Da-Da. We hope and pray that are children will advance in their ability to speak.

1 Corinthians 3 is an important chapter in the life of any church desiring to grow in spiritual maturity. It’s here that Paul begins to point out the patter, strategy, and also lack of spiritual growth.

1 Corinthians 3:1-3a (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. 

Paul describes the Corinthian church as being infants in Christ. We might look at this and be offended for them, but Paul isn’t trying to be condescending, instead he was communicating that you don’t become a spiritual giant immediately following salvation. In fact, there’s more evidence to growing in Christ than the immediacy of spiritual maturity.



Welcome to the Family

When you bring a newborn baby home from the hospital, you don’t just set them down and say, “Welcome to the family dear. Make yourself at home. The towels are in the hall closet upstairs, the pantry is right here, the can opener is in this drawer. Now, no crying after 10 p.m. If you have any questions there are lots of people in the family who would love to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask. Diapers are under the changing table if you poop. Remember, if you need anything…especially at 3am, see your mother.

You laugh and say that’s ridiculous, but listen, that’s typically what happens to new Christians in the church. Someone gets saved and starts going to church services, but they never get the attention they need to grow in their relationship with Christ. Think about it: We devote 18+ years to raising our children, but don’t even spend 6 months helping a new Christian get started in understanding the spiritual world. 

I want you to hear my intention for this reflection: Some of you are reading this and can honestly say you haven’t grown in your faith… maybe in years. Some of you are reading this and you’re so new in your faith, you would just love to grow and keep growing. Can I suggest to you that getting these two groups of people together is the true model of discipleship that Jesus taught us?

“Daniel Son”

Are you familiar with the Miyagi Model of discipleship? It’s a plant, water, grow model that stems directly from Miyagi Model. Mr. Miyagi is the iconic character from the Karate Kid movies who teaches Daniel the fine art of karate. It took a while for Daniel to get there, because of Mr. Miyagi’s style of discipleship.

Mr. Miyagi knew that Daniel Son was not ready for solid food, so he gave him the equivalent of Karate milk. Paint the Fence…Sand the Floor…Wax on… Wax off…

Well, do you remember the scene in the movie when Daniel is so frustrated and ready to give up? All he wanted to do was learn karate, instead he’s helping his neighbor paint his fence and sand his deck. Then Mr. Miyagi reveals that through the discipline of the exercises, he had actually learned karate!

Mr. Miyagi throws a barrage of punches and Daniel Son blocks all of them with his paint the fence, sand the floor, wax on/wax off moves.

 Water, Plant, Grow

In the end Mr. Miyagi needed Daniel, as much as Daniel needed Mr. Miyagi. Paul helps us in 1 Corinthians 3 to realize that both the planter and the waterer are important. Because listen…

  • The planter can plant all they want, but without water the seed won’t grow.
  • The waterer can water all they want, but without a seed nothing will grow.
  • But when the planter plants and the waterer waters, God will make it grow!