Discipleship Detachment

In counseling others, it is often recommended that we need to learn how to detach.  When one becomes adversely affected, tired, or loses their objectivity, it’s said that retreating to regroup, refresh, and reflect, is a healthy and necessary activity.  Does that hold true with discipleship?  Discipleship certainly includes counseling, but is also much, much more.  This will be the first in a series of posts dealing with detachment in discipleship.  I hope to discuss such things as:


What is detachment in discipleship?

Why to detach in discipleship.

When to detach in discipleship.

How to detach in discipleship.


Who we should detach from in discipleship.

The remaining posts in this series, however, depends on the answer to this question:


Is there a biblical warrant for detaching ourselves from those whom we are Making Disciples of?  


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    1. Sounds like a bunch of useless psyco-babble to me. One who needs to detach is one who needs to do something other than counsel. I do understand the assumed “usefulness” of it, I’m not being naive here, I just disagree with it’s usefulness, and especially it’s Biblical precedent. Jesus didn’t detach from the man with the legion of demons, nor did He coddle him. He simply cast the demons out, and told the man to go tell people what had happened to him. The exact opposite of what most modern counselors would recommend.

      The problem with detachment counseling is that to the counseled, it makes their problem seem blasé, like something that’s not all that bad, just another one of “those cases” among many. It normalizes the condition, and works to give them a feeling of “brotherhood” with a certain section of society which should be the exact opposite of what the counselor is trying to accomplish. I’ll go even further, and say that it’s (partly) this kind of counseling, and the whole “detachment attitude” that has been so widely touted that has led to the world we live in now. Where No one can be shocked by anything, and everything is “tolerable” as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else–or at least, if that somebody else doesn’t know about it. It’s the Jerry Springer style of counseling where people are allowed to give voice to their sickness, and feelings about it, then be told why they are wrong and need to change. It’s completely counter-productive–as the condition of the society which has touted it for so long testifies.

      It is, by and large, a hindrance to society, and not a help in the least.

      There’s something to be said for shock value. For the reality of what they actually did, or are, or claim to be, or whatever, coming to light, and hitting others in the face like a brick. There is something to be said for allowing others to feel ashamed of what they’ve done. I’m not talking about publicly shaming people, or badmouthing them to their face, that would also be rather counter-productive, but when people are counseled into feeling ashamed of their actions, they are more likely to try to change that action than to try to find an outlet for it, and an accepting group of people to do it with.

      I understand most people will vomit up the same old psyco-babble “it drives them inward, and causes them to hide it”. Baloney! If they are attempting to get counseling, usually (except for forced counseling) they are trying to do something about it. Whether that be the case or not, people are much more resilient than most give them credit for, and can handle a whole lot more than a lot of so-called “counselors” may think IF they are counseled the right way.

      • As far as tying it all in to discipleship, isn’t discipleship mostly just counseling others in the way of the Lord? The writers of the epistles, and the seven letters to the seven churches, etc. certainly made no bones about what was good in their doctrine, and what was bad. They simply “let ’em have it” telling them straight up what they were teaching correctly, and what needed to be changed.

      • Thank you Connie… As cool as it looks, Miguel is spelled with a “g” not a “q.” Common error. I’m looking forward to this series.

    2. Jesus, on occasion detached Himself, for prayer, and the Father’s strength, that He might be a more useful Witness to the Truth, that is in Him. As for total detachment, with Jesus, it was impossible. He left for us an example to follow in His footsteps. Giving all of Himself for the Kingdom of God. Just like He had no choice, because He was moved by the Father’s love, we don’t either. I choose to live, by giving all to Him. For there is nothing else, but His purpose. Death on the other hand disguises itself as a power and force of life, that we might choose it. Guard your hearts, or better yet, let the Lord guard it for you.

    3. Isn’t detachment in a counseling sense more about how the counselor is affected by the experiences and choices of those they’re counseling? It’s not about be blasé as much as guarding your heart so you’re not wrecked by others mistakes. Every good counselor I know has been very direct about calling out lies and sin. Detachment is about my identity not being shaken, about not playing savior. By that definition I think it’s very necessary in discipleship. If one of the guys I’m investing in is having a rough time or making stupid choices its absolutely important for that not to affect my identity or I won’t be able to love him well at all.

      I think There are hints of this in Jesus life – he gets frustrated, sad, etc but never wrecked by his disciples struggles. It’s “do you still not understand” vs “I’m a failure as your teacher.” Of course, he actually WAS the savior, coming to bear everyone’s issues so that part is a little bit different. :)

      I think Paul’s life looks similar – very invested in people (pangs of childbirth etc) but at the end of the day not defined by their failures.

      Finally I think Jesus answer is to frequently withdraw and be pruned and draw our life from him again even before there are detachment issues.

      • Yes Mark, it is more about how it affects the counselor. I started by saying that I understand all this, I just disagree with this method because of how using this method affects the counseled. The session is about the counseled, not the counselor, and if the counselor can’t handle the heat, he should remove himself from the kitchen.

        My main point was that counselors should lead by example. The whole “more caught than taught” adage applies to adults just like it does children, and when the counselor acts detached, it inadvertently teaches the counseled to act the same way. To detach themselves from their problem. This is precisely what empowers the problem action or thought. People live with themselves after committing a wrong act by detaching from it, and learning to live their life around it, and this is exactly what the counselor is teaching them by example to do. This is why it’s completely counter-productive.

    4. Write on! We’re to love God above all, and loving all else (incl. one’s family) is idolatry! Our only attachment is to God, and all other loves must be attached and detached in light of this Love!

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