When you’re discipling people who are in recovery, I’ve found that there comes a point when you have to shift gears. Once someone is well-established in recovery—not drinking or using but still wrestling with life issues—an important shift needs to happen in your leadership skills.

Early on in recovery, people often require a directive style. They need clear rules and structure to get on track—they need rails to run on. As they get healthier and more established in their recover and are past the major crisis points, they need the shift to a less-directive coaching style. This is the time to shift the responsibility for making decisions onto them. Allow them to listen to the Holy Spirit and process what he is saying to them. Exhibit trust in their capacity to hear that.

So next time someone asks me, “What should I do?” I’m going to think through where they are in recovery and where they are in the discipling relationship. If someone is early in recovery and in crisis, I may very well just tell them, “Here’s what you need to do right now.”  But if it’s later, I may say, “Pray about it. Listen to God, and find out what he wants you to do.”