A Day in the Life… Being a Disciplined Discipling Disciple

I often get asked: “What does a day in Burundi look like for you?” And it’s difficult to answer because my days include a huge range of activities; but at this stage of life, this is the framework I’m trying to implement. What my work actually entails is beyond the scope of this blog.

I’m sharing this with you in the hope that something might strike you, encourage you, challenge you, or help you. Our lives are all different – we have different balls we’re juggling in the air – and we might be at different life stages in different nations, but, most of us would say we lead stressed, cluttered, busy lives and are struggling to get things right.

Well, this is my attempt with Lizzie to ‘get things right’ at our stage of life – married, with children aged 11, 9 and 8, running a big ministry with huge responsibilities and pressures in a volatile country. We’ve bumbled along at different stages feeling like we’ve been more or less effective, frequently failing, but trying to give it our best shot. Please hear it, no judgment from me! I guess being a disciple takes discipline, and discipling our kids takes even more.

The alarm goes at 6am. On weekdays Lizzie and I alternate doing a 1-mile run 610am-620am with Grace who has the goal, in parallel with her friends in England, to do a run each day. Lizzie and I are aware that these are very special years with the children. We can’t waste this time. We need to be intentional. So 630am-645am over breakfast we read ‘Window on the World’, which is a superb resource that tells of an unreached tribe or nation, and then we pray for it. The kids are fascinated, learning more about history and geography, as well as what God is up to in the world. Every other day, we switch that book with ‘Let’s Just Laugh At That’. It’s a book that highlights the lies we so easily believe (e.g. It’s not fair, I can’t control my anger, I’m not good at anything, etc), and then teaches us what God says about it in the Bible, and how to laugh at that lie with our Laughter Blaster or Giggle Grenade or whatever. None of the kids has ever moaned about these times, rather they love them. Those two books will last us another few weeks. If you have suggestions for other such resources, please do comment below.

Lizzie takes the kids to school at 7am. That’s when I get my guitar, Bible, devotional and notebook, and sit on the floor in the corridor (for the acoustics and coolness) for anything from 20mins to an hour usually. George Muller wrote: “The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day is to have my soul happy in the Lord.” I need to find shalom, to reach that state in prayer, listening, meditation, worship, before entering a hectic day. That shalom may be challenged within seconds of getting to the office because of some horrific situation that is presented to me that needs addressing, so all the more I desperately guard and crave this time. I have my prayer lists for each day. I have a pen to write whatever comes to me in terms of ideas for sermons or prompts for people I need to get in touch with to encourage, ideas for ministry, etc. We’ve just started a men’s group on Thursdays at 730am so that is the one different day.

A crucial thing for me is to give God my best brain time. I won’t look at emails or social media until after time with the Lord, because then ‘boom!’, my mind is swamped with important stuff (emails) and inanities (social media). I use social media very intentionally for work – it generates significant financial and prayer support – but I can’t kid you or myself, I often get sucked in. God help us! Yes, we are busy, but what kind of business? As John Piper challenges us: “One of the great uses of Twitter/Facebook/Instagram will be to prove on the last day that our prayerlessness was not from lack of time!” I think a lot of us need to address this area of our lives urgently. Feel free to hold me to account!

I have a gloriously short 52-second commute on my motorbike to work! Lizzie says I’m lazy and should walk it, but I say I often have to go on from there to other meetings. I share a pokey office (on purpose as I don’t want to model being the ‘big man’) with two other people. It’s in our conference centre, which is a great networking hub. GLO supports nine organisations as partners, and other groups and initiatives besides, so there’ll be lots of people to meet and plenty of work to get on with.

Kids are back from school after midday so I pop back for lunch at 1230pm. I love the fact that at this stage of life, unless traveling, I usually get to eat three meals a day with family – a privilege that very few others get. I might have a read/snooze for an hour during the hottest part of the day, then back to the office. Hopefully I’ll fit in three gym sessions per week, using that time to listen to a podcast (Flatirons in Colorado is my current favorite, Francis ‘no-diluting-no-compromise’ Chan another).

Supper is at 530pm, and 2-3 times/week we have visitors. Then 630pm-745pm is spent reading with each child individually (for years we did all three of them together but we’ve found recently that the one-on-one time is very special): about 10minutes Bible/notes (some resistance there), and then a book of their choice and currently a chapter from the ‘10 boys/girls who changed the world or made history’ series. After praying them off to bed, we slump down knackered and try not to go to bed by 8pm! The humidity here means we’re always shattered. Social life is very limited so we are rarely out at night (one date night each fortnight), and also security means minimizing trips out in the dark. So we’ll probably watch a DVD series, and then be in bed by 930pm-10pm, at which point we debrief, mind your own business(!), and pray briefly (and it has been known for one of us to fall asleep during the praying itself, such is our tiredness!)

That’s it. Your context will be very different, as I said. There’s no right or wrong way in this. But if you aspire to being a disciple, it will take rigorous discipline. And Jesus didn’t make disciples as an end in themselves, but they were all to disciple others. For those of us who are parents, that starts with our kids. But for all of us, He’s most assuredly got others He wants us to invest in. Who might that be? What does it (or will it) look like? What needs changing/tweaking/initiating? God give us all the grace we need.

So, God bless you on your journey with Jesus with others in tow! God help us all to be disciplined discipling disciples!

I’m interested in your thoughts on this, so do comment and share this with others. It’s so important.

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12 comments

  • While serving in Congo, we were almost always asked the same question, “What does a typical day look like?” As there never was a real ‘typical’ day, we would do our best to describe what our days were often like, folks visiting without notice (this is Africa!), issues with work, shopping for the day, etc. I appreciate your sharing what your day is like. It gives a neat window into your lives. thanks! will check out one of the podcasts you recommend.

  • You sound like great parents !
    Certainly you made a big impact on my life, Simon – when you gave a sermon in Leicester some years back .
    I enjoy your blog and social media posts – I agree with your comments regarding social media – a blessing if used well .. anything that spreads the reach of Gods word.

  • Thank you, Simon for sharing your typical day. It was very enlightening. I love your comment anout Francic Chan. I also follow him and have digested all his books. My previous youth group reslly enjoyed his teaching. By the way I used your videos as well to help them to prepare for short term mission trips. I’ll keep you and your growing family in my prayers. Man, your oldest is 11 already!?

  • Thank you, Simon; we now have a ‘picture’ as a prayer aid.
    Much shalom.
    Roger and Sheila.

  • Than you, Simon; we now have a ‘picture’ as an aid to prayer.
    Much shalom.
    Roger and Sheila.

  • Our Esther and Lydia will eagerly suck up “Ten girls who changed the world”. Will buy it today. Life in sheltered Shropshire could too easily leave them unaware of the adventures that are out there.
    Time to set my alarm clock a little earlier

  • Well if it means we have to Burundi to make family time happen, then we are in trouble! How swamped we are in the west with all the mod-cons which vibe for our precious time! How undisciplined and uncaring we have become as we indulge in our gameplay, over-subscribed tv channels and reading on facebook about some unknown ranting about the beggar who annoys him for his call for help. Well done Simon and family for staying rooted in honouring God, creating space for yourselves in a challenging environment.

  • Thanks Simon. A few things to chip in from the Hawke family in Cambodia trying to get good habits and rhythms to keep us focused, growing and sane.
    Something Ellie and I do weekly after boys are in bed is Wed eve prayer and worship and Sun eve communion and prayer which really help to anchor the week and give us focused time seeking God together.
    Our boys, 8 and 6, still enjoy the Jesus story Book Bible (the Tower of Babel story still gets howls of laughter!). At the mo I read from Thoughts to make Your Heart Sing at bedtime before we sing and pray. We’ve also read Everything a Child Should Know about God by Kenneth Taylor. The boys enjoy Seeds Family Worship – kids albums of songs using scripture verses. And they bop around to Rend Collective! We’re about to buy ‘Exploring the Bible: A Bible reading plan for Kids by David Murray (Crossway) so we’ll see how that goes. Going to check out the Lets Laugh at That book! Our times of family worship and prayer have at times been random, at times frustrating, at times precious. But its something we need to persevere with. We’re blessed they’re in a Christian school for mission kids and have Sunday School but these don’t take our place as primary disciplers.
    At the moment I read Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening, every, well, morning and evening and Piper’s Solid Joys devotional and pray into those and for the day ahead. Good daily anchors. Bible: I sometimes use the Explore Bible study app or I usually follow a Bible reading plan but long ago jettisoned trying to read it in a year in favour of taking time over it. And worshipping one way or another every day.
    We’re with you about social media. I decided not to have it on my phone and don’t check/use it on Sunday and never, ever, in bed! I share prayer requests and updates and other bits and pieces and pick up on some good articles.
    Someone has said ‘Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.’ As we do like to be spiritual we do this often. It’s humid and tiring here too and it helps us engage with the 2nd half of the day. Exercise is essential or I may nod off at any…. zzzz….. moment or lack energy for what I’m here for. I get to the gym twice a week (accompanied either by worship music or a sermon) and I even learned to skip last year so I could do more exercise at home.
    We’re in a battle and we see the enemy’s efforts at discouragement often. Our time with God and our self care are vital to a sustainable and fruitful life.

  • The writings of MR.SIMON Guillebaud is an excellentone especially his way of giving time first for Prayers and thereafter only to Social medias. He perfectly said that today our time is just wasted in social medias and one has to take his advice seriously. Thanks brother for motivating us to get disciplined

  • Love the books you are reading to your kids, and that you are teaching them about other countries that need prayer. I am pretty sure God used this blog to gently tell me to quit casually reading email “real quick” (i.e. oops did an hour go by) before I spend time with Him. Thanks for that. Always good to be encouraged to have focus and discipline.
    God bless!

  • Thanks so much Simon. Your life (and Lizzie’s) continues to be one of on-going encouragement, inspiration – and conviction! 🙂

  • Simon, is there any chance that we could hear what a ‘typical’ day looks like for Lizzie? Love that John Piper quote about social media.

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