How do We Disciple Others?
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Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
- Matthew 28:19-20
When my sister and I were in youth group as teenagers, I remember one night where our youth pastor thought it was a good idea to do a trust fall from the back of a pick-up truck.
Now if you’ve never done a trust fall, let me explain. A trust fall is where you stand somewhere—in this case, the back of a pick-up truck—and then fall backwards and trust the people behind you to catch you. The trick is that you can’t bend your knees. You must completely trust the people catching you and just fall.
First of all, I don’t do heights. Second of all, I didn’t trust anyone in my youth group to do the catching.
So I was out of this particular activity. I was fine where I was, thank you very much.
My sister however thought it would be a great idea.
So up she went onto the pick-up truck and proceeded to fall backwards so that the others could catch her.
Meanwhile I believe I hyperventilated at the back of the line.
Why was I having such a hard time trusting that these people would do what they said when they said they’d catch us?
Because I didn’t completely know them. I mean, sure I knew their names and I knew that some of them had a hard time paying attention during lesson time or that a couple of them really hated when we played ultimate frisbee. But that was about it.
I didn’t truly know them enough to trust what they said and listen to it.
And I think that’s a good picture of where we get it wrong with discipleship.
For a lot of us, we think that “discipling” someone is just telling them about God and how to live for Him and then your job is over.
As a youth pastor, I know that this definitely does not work.
I could teach teenagers once a week about God but if I walked away and didn’t invest in them throughout the rest of the week, am I really discipling them as God has called us to disciple others?
Discipleship requires trust. And trust requires a relationship. You can’t completely trust someone that you don’t know because you won’t know if what they’re telling you is right or true.
Jesus gave us a perfect example of this in the way that He discipled His people.
His twelve disciples did everyday life with Him. It wasn’t just about Him teaching them for a couple hours a week and then sending them on their way, it wasn’t just about spending surface time with them, but Jesus spent deep, intentional time with them that invested first in their relationship. They ate together, they traveled together, they did ministry together. Jesus spent time with them in intentional ways that grew their relationship.
And discipleship is all about relationship.
So if you’re wondering how you can follow Jesus’ example, obey His Great Commission to disciple, and learn how to disciple others well, here are some things to keep in mind:
-> Love them well.
John 13:35 says this: “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.” If we are disciples of Jesus trying to show others how to be a disciple of Him, we’re going to love radically. It’s going to be a sacrificial, selfless love that doesn’t look anything like the world. It’ll be difficult and it will require sacrifice and laying down what we want sometimes. But if we really want to disciple well, we need to love well.
-> Pray for them.
We underestimate prayer in discipleship so much. Pray for them during your personal prayer time, but take it beyond that. Pray with them. Set aside time when you’re with someone to pray with them and for them. Discuss their prayer requests and teach them how to pray.
-> Set aside time for them.
Be available. Jesus was available to others. That didn’t mean He didn’t have boundaries, because boundaries are important. It didn’t even mean that He didn’t take time for Himself, because regularly He would get away to spend time with His Father privately. But He also allowed Himself to be available to others and set aside time to invest in them. Don’t just pray for someone on weekends or check in with people Sunday mornings. Set aside time to find someone you can invest in and disciple through relationship. And then be available to them.
We have been called to follow the example of Jesus and disciple others through relationship.
Let’s invest in people today.
1. Who is someone in your life that needs discipled?
2. How are you currently discipling people today?
3. How can you disciple someone better this week?
Thank You Jesus for loving us and having a relationship with us. We love You and we’re grateful for what You do. Please help us to love others well too and point them to You through relationships. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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