Last week we looked at God’s heart in making disciples and this week we will look at what making disciples looks like in our daily lives.
Begin by looking around you. Who is hungry? Who is needy? Who keeps saying that they would love a mentor or someone to disciple them? Who keeps calling you for help? If there is nobody around you at the moment, ask Jesus to send you someone. This is a prayer that He will answer! I have noticed (and have been this person in the past) that some people are a bit shy about asking, so you may need to take initiative.
While many times God uses needs to open up opportunities for ministry, we cannot be led by need or we would never have a moment to rest! If you haven’t noticed, the world is full of needs and the more you mature and become a passionate lover of Jesus who is overcoming in your life, many people will want you to help them. Jesus only said what the Father said and did what He saw Him doing (John 5:19, 8:28). We must be led by the Spirit of God for our lives in every area just as Jesus modeled. Do not feel pressured to say yes to every person who asks you to mentor them, but be sure that Jesus does have someone for you to pour into. Another note: unless you are in a group, it is best to stick with mentoring those of the same sex.
Be intentional. Since discipleship takes time and energy, either set a time to meet with someone on a regular basis or to talk on the phone if they are too far away to meet in person. Before you take on discipling someone, you need to be willing to be available to talk/meet with them-sometimes even when it is inconvenient for you. This is what love looks like!
With this said, we are not supposed to be Jesus to people, but rather point them to Jesus. We cannot be expected to meet all of their needs and be there at the drop of a hat on a regular basis. This creates an unhealthy connection for both you and the other person. While we need to be there for people, we also need to continually point them to the One who has every answer to their every need and be led by God when they are becoming mature enough to take more steps on their own. Just like parenting, there are seasons in relationships. New believers, like infants, need much more care and hands-on nurturing than when they grow and mature. If you are discipling new Christians, expect to change a bunch of diapers! Life will be messy for a while while they are discovering what saying yes to Jesus really means and as they are being healed and set free from things (not that it ever stops, but this season is pretty intense!)
Sharing your life with people is the essence of both Christianity and discipleship. Don’t only share your victories or this will discourage people! Share the battles-the ugliest battles-and how Jesus rescued and delivered you as you trusted in Him. This will teach them to do the same. Impart the faith-the more than conquering faith-that brought you through the darkest times in your life so that they, too, will be equipped for every battle-and every victory!
Sharing your life means inviting them along on your journey with Jesus. Jesus included the disciples in what He did both in His life and ministry. The apostle Paul had deep relationship with Timothy and they traveled together in ministry. They ate, talked, and simply lived life together. Not everything you do with those you disciple has to be “spiritual”. I do not sit around and pray and read the Bible with my daughters all day. We shop, laugh, eat lots of chocolate, and get out and enjoy nature together. Doing fun activities with others strengthens our bond with them.
I have heard the phrase that being a parent is like wearing your heart on the outside of you. This is so true! Whatever our children go through-whether good or bad-it affects us. They are a part of us and we carry them in our hearts wherever we go. This same dynamic should be true of those that we disciple. The apostle Paul said in Galatians 4:19, “My little children for whom I labor in birth again, until Christ is formed in you”. This sounds like some work, prayers, tears, faith, and a lot of our hearts are going to be involved in the process. Paul longed for the Galatians to walk in all that Jesus had died and risen from the dead to have them live in and he was willing to open up his heart and give his life for them to walk in freedom. God reveals His heart for being mothers and fathers in the faith through Paul’s life (and yes, I am being convicted to live more like this as I am writing this!). Again, we need to be led by the Lord in this area and not take on any burden that is not from the Lord. When we have good boundaries and are emotionally healthy (not perfect) this is so much easier to do!
Last, have lots of patience, love, grace, and mercy as people are growing. Goodness knows that both Jesus and others have had so much on me as I have fallen, gotten back up, fallen again, gazed upon the face of Jesus, finally rising to my wobbly feet to begin walking in victory! I am convinced that discipling others is not only for their benefit, but for ours. We are made to give our lives away and when we say yes to this, we become more like Jesus. Areas in our lives that we need to be more patient or loving come to the surface during this process. God is so clever and is the master multi-tasker!
The reward of being obedient to disciple others far outweighs what we give. Lately, I have been seeing much fruit from pouring my life out for others and it is the best feeling in the world! Our daughters are doing really well and seeing Jesus do some amazing things in and through them. We’ve had some recent seasons where it felt like all I was doing was giving and giving, without seeing much fruit (nothing negative on their end). There are also two ladies that I disciple who are just killing it! Jesus is taking their lives and transforming them before my very eyes. I could not be more proud of their obedience, character, and love for Jesus and others. They have become such good friends and partners in ministry. They teach me how to love Jesus more! Somehow, I think this was God’s plan all along.
We need each other. Others need you. We all need Jesus. How about taking some time today and talking to Jesus about this. Ask Him to share His heart with you and what steps you can take to be obedient to what He has asked you to do when He said, “go into all the world and make disciples”.