In one of my first blogs I wrote on “what is discipleship and what does it look like?” It’s a very common question that I get from a lot of people very frequently. More recently the question narrowed in a bit more as some of the young men I disciple are advancing and starting to make disciples themselves. In the desire to equip these choice men of God, I always want to do a better job and improve in the way I disciple them so that they are effective in showing others what it looks like to follow Christ by their example. As I’ve prayed and thought out loud and in private on how I can do this the thought came to me…”What does the heart of an effective disciple maker look like—what are some of the traits?”
Most everyone I know and those I speak to really appreciate and enjoy authenticity in people. Persons who really carry a genuine heart for those around them and exhibit the character of Christ in all they do. I think God’s people should be leading the charge in our world in this area. Sadly, many people I speak to all over the country can’t really tell the difference between Christians and rest of the world that mostly lives only for their own interests. I really want the men I disciple to be men who make a difference for the sake of more than a billion people today who have yet to even hear the gospel. For the sake of a sometimes marginalized and ineffective church in our culture. I want the men that I disciple to have a huge impact and make a difference for the Glory of God to be known and the Gospel of Christ to be spread like a wildfire. This burning desire led me back to what Jesus said in John 13:35 that “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” So as I disciple these men that God has placed in my life I don’t want to just go through lessons, check off the box, go over this and go over that and we’ve made disciples and they’re ready to go. I should really be all about sharing my life with these men and the root of what this lesson is about is loving them sacrificially. This should be that I am laying down my life for these guys and serving them. This is praying for them, being humble and vulnerable with them, doing whatever I can to help them grow in Christ so they can make disciples for Christ in their own lives successfully. I have been discipled and am currently being discipled by some incredible men of God. Every one of them do some very specific things outside of our normal meeting times and I must do the same things for the men I am leading. Here are a few of them:
- Powerfully pray for those you disciple daily. How are you praying for those you disciple? We must pray for those we disciple. I have gotten texts from the men who disciple me telling me they’re in prayer for me. They check in on me when I am traveling and sometimes pray with me over the phone. They pray for me when we meet. These guys really, genuinely love me and they take me before the Lord daily so that like in Ephesians 1:17 that “God may give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that I may know Him better.” They pray for my needs, my family, my job, my ministry and everything else under the sun that is relevant in my life to grow with Christ. An effective disciple maker continually prays for those God has placed in their lives to lead.
- How are you serving them? Am I really there for them and showing that I really love and care about them? Is my dedication to them as strong and radiant when they’re having problems as much as it is when things are going great? Serving them is really being there and having your love for them on full display in their lives especially when things gets difficult and messy. When it costs you more time out of your schedule, when you really have to make a sacrifice to help them achieve breakthrough. When they can be stubborn or even rebellious? Again, I can’t be just about going through lessons in time blocks and checking off boxes. Am I meeting them right where they are at and not where I want them to be and working where God is working on them? It can be difficult and trying, but Hebrews 6:10 reminds us-“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”
- How am I inviting them into my life? Am I doing this in a very intentional way so that I am showing them what the life of Christ looks like in action? Discipleship can’t be about just what happens in a couple of hours meeting every week or two. This is a foundational time where we do walk through God’s word together with lessons, but this has got to be a connection or a bridge into sharing life on numerous levels outside of just the lesson to spur conversations and examples that open up revelation in ways that our times together couldn’t do. How do they see me in how I treat my spouse? My daughter? My co-workers or a potentially mean supervisor? My relatives and especially ones who might be difficult to love? Am I sharing my life with them in a meaningful fashion to where a lesson can be revealed in the way we live our lives by not what we say, but how our love, joy, peace, patience, our compassion, generosity, integrity, humility, and self-discipline is lived out in our everyday lives for them to see? Do we invite them into our lives enough that they really see the character of Christ in us?
The heart of effective disciple makers know that their greatest legacy isn’t so much in the things they personally achieve, but more so in the people they develop to reap a harvest of winning the lost to Christ and to lead and raise up the next generation.