The past couple of weeks the terms “disciple” and “discipleship” keep showing up in my life – in conversations, sermons and my Bible reading. And, one of the common themes of discussion is usually about “how to disciple” someone. Over the years, that’s a question that I’ve learned is both hard and easy to answer. It’s hard, not because the process is really that difficult, but because to “disciple” someone well means we have to sacrifice. And, if we are honest, that can be hard for all of us sometimes. But, since “making disciples” is THE COMMISSION given to us in scripture, I think we should all be more prepared to accomplish this Kingdom task.
So, here is an easy 3 step guide to Discipleship 101 to help get you started:
Discipleship takes time.
I said discipleship means that we have to sacrifice and there is often no thing more difficult for us to sacrifice than our time. We are busy people with lots to do. But, it is impossible to be a “teacher” to someone else (which is what discipling largely is) without spending time with them. To disciple well you have to spend regular time with another person talking, studying, telling stories, and praying. There is no substitute for being together.
Discipleship means knowing your limits.
Several years ago I was in a small group pastors’ training session with Pastor Andy Stanley when I learned something that’s continued to stick with me when I disciple someone. Speaking of the limits of discipleship responsibility, Andy said, “It’s not your responsibility to fill someone else’s cup. But it is your responsibility to empty your cup into the person whom you are discipling.” That makes so much sense! I can never be everything that someone else needs to grow spiritually, as a leader, as a man or as a person. And that burden is not mine to bear. However, I can be open, honest and willing to empty myself, my experiences, my prayers and my heart to another so that he may grow from my experiences and encouragement.
Discipleship requires knowing the Truth.
It’s not enough to just spend time with someone and give them a bunch of advice. True discipleship means helping to train someone in their spiritual growth as a Christian. And that means knowing the Truth of the Gospel and speaking the Truth of the Gospel. Jesus Christ is the guide and the model to whom we are aspiring (not the latest leadership or self-help guru or life coach). That means reading and studying the Bible – together. That means relying on the Word of God instead of your own “feelings” or “instinct” to guide thoughts, actions and decisions. Discipling well requires that we use the Truth as our standard, nothing else and nothing less.