“He also told them this parable: ‘Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.’” – Luke 6:39-40
Discipling is essential. Discipling is exciting, frustrating… yet fulfilling. Discipling can be difficult if you are not devoted to it. There are no short cuts. Jesus discipled men – we are to do the same. To be successful, we must follow in the footsteps of Jesus. We must walk with our disciples as Jesus walked with His. No one knows everything about this multi-dimensional subject, but what we do know is that if we fail to make true disciples we will fail to impact this world with the saving message of Jesus Christ. The world was evangelized once through the discipling of men and women to Christ – it can be done again!
Jesus as a Disciple:
Jesus shows us by his own life that we must be a great disciple to be a great discipler. Jesus was a student, a learner, a pupil for His entire life. He had a disciple’s mindset.
- Jesus was reverently, willingly, and completely submissive to God’s will. (Matthew 26:36-46, Hebrews 5:7-8)
- Jesus possessed an all-consuming desire to obey God. (John 5:19, John 6:38)
- The motivation for Jesus’ obedience was in His relationship with God. He obeyed because He loved God (John 14:31). He obeyed because He wanted to please God.
Jesus’ Teaching on Discipleship:
Jesus’ words are the very words we are to speak. We must continually call our disciples to God’s level of “followship.” We must do this before baptism and after baptism without fear, shame, or compromise. We must call people to a radical submission to God’s word (John 8:31-32), to a radical love (John 13:34-35), to a radical purpose (John 15:8), and to a radical commitment (Luke 14:25-33).
Jesus as a Discipler:
Jesus is the perfect discipler – all others are not, and yet, we are commanded to make disciples. As we ourselves become more like Christ (in life, not just in knowledge), the better our disciple-making will become. Some keys to dynamic discipling are:
- Careful and Prayerful Selection – Luke 6:12-16: Jesus prayed all night believing the Father would give Him the men He could mold into dynamic disciples.
- Explanation of Expectations – Mark 3:14-15: Jesus allowed His expectations to be known – the desire of deep friendships and the mindset needed to be discipled.
- Focus on a Few – Matthew 10:2-5: Jesus knew His limitations on the number He could effectively disciple.
- No Confusion Regarding Purpose – Mark 1:16-17: It must be clearly understood that bringing others into the Kingdom is the ultimate reason for the relationship. People must feel their calling and their destiny!
- Invest Much Time – John 1:39: There can be no substitute for this at any time (For anyone, in any place).
- Open Up Your Life – Mark 14:33-34: To instill faith you must share your goals, your accomplishments, and your victories. To instill greater faith you must share the struggles, doubts and fears which have to be dealt with in order to reach them. Openness breeds openness – this means you will honestly know one another, and a vital bonding of two lives takes place.
- Specific and Constant Instruction and Explanation – Matthew 17:17-23: Instruction is dependent on the need of the hour. To lead a person effectively is to know what his next step is before he even realizes he is ready to take it.
- Specific Accountability – Mark 6:30: You must not only give specific instruction, but you must learn to follow up on that instruction so that input can be given. There must be an unlimited amount of patience with an uncompromising firmness. There is to be a sensitive, yet absolute expectation for obedience never letting go of God’s standard of discipleship, which is the same for everyone. Lastly, we must all understand the difference of how much time each person has, depending on their particular life situation (married or unmarried, in school, with children, etc).
- Encourage Daily and Specifically – Hebrews 3:12-13, Ephesians 4:29: Everyone needs encouragement – we are to make our times together uplifting. A ratio of ten encouragements for every correction might be a good balance. An important part of this is believing in a person and having a dream for their life.
- Specific Warnings – Mark 8:15: We must be smart. We must be aware of what our disciple may be exposed to at work, school, or in the home. The schemes of the devil need to be exposed – the fact that we are in a spiritual war must be understood. We should be aware of specific weaknesses. There should be warnings concerning sin – sexual sins, materialism, selfish ambition, divisive attitudes, etc. We should not wait until people have problems to teach about these.
- Straight Forward in Correction – Matthew 16:23: Jesus pulled no punches. His love was filled with truth. Jesus was constantly taking the initiative to deal with his concerns about His disciples’ lives.
- True Involvement and Emotion – Luke 10:21: Jesus was not aloof. He was full of emotions which were clearly expressed – anger, joy, etc. Disciple-making is not just a project or an appointment on your calendar. It is a consistent relationship where you are emotionally involved – you care so much that you risk getting hurt.
- Jesus Is First and Foremost – John 12:26: Jesus repeatedly said “Follow Me.” The right heart and character must be developed and not just the right actions. Jesus is our example and is to be our main emphasis – then we will know how to think, feel, and act.
- Set the Pace – Matthew 11:1: To lead someone you must be ahead of them. Jesus set the pace. We must also. We must set the example in serving, praying, teaching, in humility, and openness. We cannot lead others where we have not been or where we are unwilling to go.
Have Fun – Ecclesiastes 11:8-10: Incorporated into Jesus’ discipling was a sense of excitement, joy, and fun. Jesus went sailing and mountain climbing with His disciples. Jesus went to the beach, and went fishing with His disciples. He ate with them, traveled with them, and took them to weddings and parties. He healed people, raised the dead, and let His disciples watch God work wonders through Him. THERE WAS NEVER A DULL MOMENT IN THE MINISTRY OF JESUS!
- Specific Prayer for Your Disciple – Luke 22:31: There is a great power available and great concern shown when you pray by name for your disciple. A knitting together of hearts happens when you have someone consistently on your mind – desiring them to be protected from Satan and victorious in the Lord. The kind of impact we make for Jesus in the world is dependent on the kind of disciples we make. Our dream should be to make an impact that lasts into eternity. An old Chinese proverb says:
If you want to work for a season… plant rice
If you want to work for a century… plant a tree
If you want to work for eternity… plant a man
LET US GO AND MAKE DYNAMIC DISCIPLES!