Last weekend I had the pleasure of facilitating a workshop on Discipleship at the “RISE” Women’s Conference (#WOCON2018). What a joy to hear how others are busy at Kingdom work and how God is using them to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ! Here are some golden nuggets from that session…
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
In Greek, “to disciple” is μαθητεύω (mathéteuó). It’s a fancy word with a terrific meaning:
“to disciple, i.e. helping someone to progressively learn the Word of God to become a matured, growing…”learner,” a true Christ-follower; to train (develop) in the truths of Scripture and the lifestyle required, i.e. helping a believer learn to be a disciple of Christ in belief and practice.”
This is the essence of what it means to disciple! It’s taking someone by the hand and leading them through the Bible, training them in the truth of it, all the while showing them how to live by role-modeling it ourselves. Discipling others involves modeling faith and godliness with our lives. (Philippians 3:17)
Discipleship always points to Jesus. It’s how we live out faith and hope in Christ each day.
1. Discipleship Is Intentional.
Discipleship is all about creating Christ-centered relationships.
What does discipleship look like in practice? It means being intentional about seeking out others who are lost or who have wandered off from the faith and bringing them into the fold.
like that sheep
It’s about growing people deeper in their faith. This means we have to be out and about, involved in the lives of others and the activities that surround us.
- Getting groceries? Watch for opportunities to speak Christ’s love and encouragement into others. Be a beacon of hope and kindness in a world of discouragement and darkness.
- Watching your kid’s game or going to parent teacher conferences? Heads up! There are tons of places to encounter people who need Jesus.
- Working on the warehouse floor or at your office? You spend 40 hours a week with people all around you. Look to see who the Holy Spirit is pointing out to you that you might one day disciple.
2. Discipleship Requires Humility.
This one is simple. Discipleship‘s all about Jesus, not us. We point people to the Savior so they can have the only Lord that can help them in this life. We want them to find Christ and be with Him for eternity. There is no pride or arrogance in true discipleship.
Look to the Holy Spirit for direction and God’s Word for confirmation. If we try to do it on our own thinking we know it all, “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 16:25 NASB)
3. Discipleship Is Holy Spirit-Directed And God-Empowered.
No matter if you are a lawyer, a grave-digger, or a homemaker, your call and purpose is ALWAYS to disciple, baptize, and teach others about Jesus.
We have to KNOW HIM—through
- the biblical teachings of our leaders,
- our personal study and mediation on Scripture, and,
- accountability and fellowship with other believers,
always pointing people to Jesus Christ. We can only pour out onto others what’s been poured into us through the Holy Spirit.
We have to KNOW WHO WE ARE. As Christ’s soldiers and servants, His missionaries and emissaries, we don’t have to be strong in ourselves but in Him. He directs, we obey.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. “
(Ephesians 6:10, emphasis mine)
4. Discipleship Can Get Messy.
I was an ugly duckling. But some mercifully patient saints helped me to become a swan in the name of Jesus Christ. Those dingy feathers molted and I became white as snow.
When we are forming intimate, Christ-loving relationships with others, we learn a lot about one another! Helping people walk through hurts, habits, or hangups to have their hearts transformed by our risen Savior can get ugly.
“And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy still to others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.”
(Jude 1:22-23, NLT)
Discipleship is inconvenient, often messy, and takes time and energy. But, oh! turning dirty feathers into downy whites ones is worth it for Jesus… Hate the sin, love the sinner.
5. Discipling Others Requires Self-Care.
You can’t pour from an empty pitcher. Here are some tips from others who are making a huge dent for winning others to Jesus.
- Start each day in God’s Word: Fill up your mind & soul with Truth.
- Pray: Be upwardly Christ-focused.
- Watch for the Holy Spirit’s direction: Listen for His still small voice.
- Eat well, exercise regularly, guard your sleep/rest times, be alert: The enemy loves it when you’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired (HALT). He is a prowling lion.
- Be accountable: Have a group of trustworthy believers surrounding you as you help others.
“But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.”
(Jude 1:20-21, NLT)
Finally, Discipleship is for salvation AND sanctification, the furthering of faith, hope, and love as we journey in serving Jesus.