Discipleship is important and is key in our growing and changing to becoming more like Him. Discipleship is primarily following Jesus, but it is also following people who are ahead of us on their journey and who God has put in our path for us to learn from. It is also about bringing along and encouraging people who are behind you.
To be a Disciple means to be a ‘learner’ or ‘follower’.
A Disciple of Christ will have:
- A supreme love for Jesus first
- Denial of self
- A life spent following Christ
- A fervent love for all who belong to Christ
- A commitment to his word
Characteristics of a good disciple:
Faithful Faithfulness is an essential characteristic of a disciple. Faithful, reliable, and loyal people can be trusted with the precious gospel message.
Available This means you put your discipleship calling first in life and you are ready to respond to god’s challenges. You prioritise your learning and growing and spiritual journey over things that can easily distract.
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Teachable If you are unwilling to humbly learn from others you cannot grow. True humility is a rare quality to find as pride can so easily get in the way, this then hinders your learning and growing. It is essential to lay your pride down and humbly hear what you need to hear however painful or difficult it is for you. In the end, the more open you are to hearing the truth the more you are able to deal with and change the issues.
In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul the apostle told the Corinthians,
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
This is the essence of Christian discipleship. We follow men and women who are leading us to Jesus. When we become more mature Christians, we lead others to follow Jesus, as we ourselves follow Him.
When Paul speaks to and about Timothy, he described him both as his ‘son in the faith’ and then later on he describes him as his companion, showing that there can be different seasons in your relationships.
He writes his letter of encouragement and guidance, building him up in his abilities and the things he was doing well, but also giving him encouragement in the things he was not confident in i.e his timidness. He did this so that Timothy put his confidence in Jesus and not himself.
But we dont tend to write letters now…
So how do we ‘do’ discipleship today? I got to thinking about how I have been discipled and how I disciple others.
- Pray and read the bible together.
My wonderful discipler prayed for me and spent time listening to me and then encouraged and supported me. I knew she was regularly praying and seeking God for me and she always had some form of encouragement through her thoughts, scripture, word of wisdom etc.
- Practically caring for each other, feed them, buying them coffee/lunch etc.
- Challenging and pulling up on certain behaviours. Asking the difficult questions and keeping things at quite a deep and honest level.
- Enjoying time together, doing fun stuff or just doing life stuff together- looking after the children, cooking tea, cleaning etc all things that you can see how they are- their attitude and behaviour and they see how you are.
- Listen to each other and the holy spirit and always point them to Jesus.
- Challenge any wrong thoughts or behaviours with truth and in love.
- Be honest and vulnerable.
Relationship capital and permission must be there before challenging and asking the difficult questions or making observations of behaviour. If they don’t trust you, they wont trust what you say.
Discipleship needs to come out of a relationship where one is further along then the other and she can teach, encourage and build up the one who is a few steps behind.
Are you being discipled?
Pray and ask God for someone to lead you to follow Jesus.
Having believed and received Jesus we set off on a lifelong journey of discovering His will and following it – i.e. becoming active followers of Him. You will see from the great commission of Jesus to His church that it is the mission of the church not just to make and baptise believers, but then to teach them and equip them to obey all his commands. Terry Virgo