Discipleship

This is an excerpt from the chapter on discipleship in the book "The Curious Case of Better Broccoli," that Dave and Dave are working on: 

I’m a Drake.  You’re a something else. Point being, we are both something.  And the fact that we are, whatever we are, Drake or otherwise, is both interesting and instructive to me as I think about the topic of discipleship.  I will explain.

I am not a nominal Drake.  I am the definition of what it means to be practicing, bordering on fundamentalist, in my “Drake-ness.”  I am more aware of this now that I am a parent, and find myself behaving in ways and doing and saying things that could only come from the most faithfully observant of Drakes.

My dad, during my formative years, was what can only be described as crazy.  So, it should be safe to say that I had the best childhood ever, and I thank God for that man every day.  His sense of humor and daring were unmatched.  Even though my mom has tried for years to keep some of what I am about to tell you from leaking, I think it is time that the world knew...about the Turkeys.

In most homes, the high point of Thanksgiving is the meal. In ours, it was the night before the meal that took center stage.  It was then that we got to experience the flying of the fowl.  My dad would remove the giant bird, which my mom had been thawing all day in the sink from its packaging, wash it off and then the show would really start. It was my father’s most epic and gritty performance, and we literally waited all year for it.  He would “fly” the bird all over the house, he would chase us with it. One time he threw the bird to my mom, all 23 pounds of it hurdling through the air.  I can’t remember whether she caught it.  But I definitely remember that he threw it.  He would make the bird zoom and zag and then, when the bird got tired, he would make it sit, cross it’s legs and tell jokes.  It was Oscar worthy comedy, if only there had been a camera. Even after we kids got married, we would do our best to be at our parents’ house so we would not miss a moment of the bird’s flight.  Unfortunately, one year, after one of my sisters had a baby, the performance went too far.  It seems my father borrowed a diaper from the diaper bag and placed it on the bird. It got rave reviews, because a turkey in a diaper is hilarious.  My mother, however, had seen enough and decided that the show had become far too racy.  The show was shut down and a turkey has never flown in that house again.  To this day a gray cloud hangs over what we affectionately call “Thanksgiving Eve.”

Luckily, flying turkeys are not the only thing my dad did to entertain us in the Drake household.  He also juggled glass dishes, threw mashed potato “snow” balls at the dinner table, and occasionally tried on my mom’s pearls to see how they would look with his outfit of jeans...and nothing else. 

This kind of behavior, while frowned upon in some circles is key to what it means to be a Drake.  The the kind of behavior that has a bit of an edge to it, enough edge that their needs to be a mom around to restrain it, but not so much that you need the police or Batman.  

I largely personify the same things that I saw in my dad.  I believe it would be an awful thing if I did not, because frankly his amazing mix of risk and humor and boundary pushing are exactly the kinds of things that the boys need from a father and have been sorely lacking, especially in our evangelical subculture.  As I look back on my life I realize that these are the behaviours that define who I am. My dad, being my dad in all his shirtless pearl wearing glory, is exactly the reason I am a church planter.  He is also the reason that recently at a McDonald’s Playland my son Jeremiah got yelled at by his mother (who had just come into the room) for attempting to climb to the top outside of the play structure, I would have yelled at him myself, but I was too involved in helping him find his next foothold and he was so close to making it all the way up! 

I’m a Drake.  That means something. My boys are also Drakes. My daughter, who adores her grandpa, might be the most Drake of us all.  The question is how did we become Drakes?

I know that the obvious answer is that we were born that way. True.  But we are not really talking about our genetic makeup here.  We are talking about all those things that make a person who they are. We are talking about the actions, and affections and the values that a person has.  

We are Drake’s and it is not just genetic. I know this for certain because one of my children was adopted at the age of 7.  Now for 7 years, before I even knew him he was not a Drake, he was something else.  A scary something else on some levels.  I remember how on the first day he came to live with us as we were riding in the car he told us, “I’m not really into God.”  He also came to us proclaiming his love for soccer (the least Drake of sports ever!).  Though he was one half Puerto Rican he didn’t like beans and rice (our childrens favorite meal).  He had come from home where they did not express themselves verbally, likely because he had never been talked to.  The three born in our house, on the other hand, were often hyper-verbal. Mom’s a teacher, dad’s a preacher, talking happens.  I had been having full conversations with them since the day they were both. I still remember the strange looks I would get as I pushed my newborn through the grocery store in a cart and chatted away with them, he missed all of that.  Yet at age 11 he is 100% a Drake.  He loves Jesus, hates soccer, has his beans and rice with hot sauce and can’t shut up.  That’s a Drake.  How did he become that way? 

The answer is discipleship.  The same way I became a Drake and the same way my other children became Drakes.  We were discipled into it.  Not the kind of discipleship where you meet once a week and fill in blanks on a Bible study.  Not the kind where you read every books on the topic.  The closest thing we have to a catechism is when I ask Jeremiah: “What is the worst thing you can grow up to be?” and he replies “A tall white guy who can’t dunk.”  No, there are no formal lessons and no steps conveniently arranged around a baseball diamond…and yet here they are: Drakes. Drakes through and through, and how they got that way is not luck, and it’s not genetics. How they got that way is discipleship and discipleship for all its complexity boils down to simple math: Time + Intentionality = Discipleship.