Haver: A whole new level of friendship

Haver is a word we Cadre missionaries love to use. It helps us understand how God designed us to live as disciples together. Here’s some background on where “haver” comes from.

Haver (ha· ver) is a Hebrew word that means friend; comrade; companion. It’s the practice of grappling in twos or threes over Scripture and talking about how to live it out together. In the First Century, both men and women wrestled together in disciplemaking friendships. The female version of the word is haverah.

Learning together

A havruta, or what we call a disciplemaking learning community, supports these friendships. This was the standard learning style for teaching 12-17-year-old students in villages like Capernaum, where Jesus lived after Nazareth. Adults in the community were welcomed to join students in the bet midrash, or house of learning, whenever their jobs or life allowed them the freedom.

havering

Get yourself a haver

Finally, the plural is haverim (ha· ver· im): learning as friends, together. It’s a learning method where teachers pass on faith instruction to groups of 2-5 students. Together, they wrestle the content as friends for both understanding and application in life, together.

The ideal way to support a disciplemaking lifestyle is through friendships (haver) linked in a disciplemaking learning community.

Lois Tverberg describes it well in Sitting At The Feet of Rabbi Jesus: “Pairs or small groups grapple together aloud over a text, earnest in their desire to dig deeper. This tradition is ancient – a rabbinic comment was made before Jesus’ time that you should ‘get yourself a haver,’ a study partner.” (Tverberg’s books and blog are a great source for understanding the cultural context of Jesus’ life and teaching.)

 

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Want to further explore the concept of haver? Grab a friend and wrestle these passages together:

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Proverbs 12:26

Proverbs 17:17

Proverbs 18:24

Proverbs 27:6

Proverbs 27:10

John 15:13, 15

 

Our love affair with books

 I know. We’re in love with books these days.

The Bible? Not so much.

I am often asked by ministry leaders, “What are you reading?” I smile and deadpan, “The Bible. It’s an amazing book. It’s really changing my life.” (This is where my wife starts kicking me under the table.) They’re like, “Well of course the Bible, but what other books are you reading?” I continue: “No, seriously, I’m reading the Bible and trying to learn how to make disciples like Jesus.”

Insert long awkward pause here. Often the conversation changes subjects or ends.

Interesting, ain’t it? Maybe it’s my coffee breath. I’m not trying to be a self-righteous jerk. I’m simply trying to answer the question—and have an honest and thoughtful conversation.

THE Book

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-books. I’m not trying to throw all books except the Bible under the bus. I’ll read/listen to about 12-15 books this year. But I used to read about 30 books a year. In an effort to make the Bible my first and primary text in life, I’m learning to be very selective about what books I read. I even ask God to show me what books he wants me to read. I value good books, but not more than THE Book.

 

open-bibleI think it’s a big mistake to make any book beside the Bible the first and primary focal point of disciplemaking. (Yes, that goes for anything I’ve written as well.) Why? Because the way you give disciplemaking to someone is the way they will tend to give disciplemaking to others. So, instead of making a book the center of your disciplemaking, make THE Book the first and primary text of your Disciplemaking Learning Community…so that when those you disciple start to disciple others, they will do it using the Bible. (Call me old school if you want. I’ve been called worse.)

It’s time to get over our love affair with books and get back to our love affair with Jesus as found in THE Book.

There. I said it.

After you’ve established God’s Word as the the first and primary text in your life and disciplemaking, then you may want supplement your learning with a book if you are so inclined. However, don’t feel obligated to use books. God—as it says in the Bible—has already given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

There I go again.

“The words of the wise are like prodding goads, and firmly fixed [in the mind] like nails are the collected sayings which are given [as proceeding] from one Shepherd. But about going further [than the words given by one Shepherd], my son, be warned. Of making many books there is no end [so do not believe everything you read], and much study is a weariness of the flesh.”
—Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:11-12

So what’s next for you?

I challenge you to consider the 15 minutes a day that will change your life forever.