dis·ci·ple – a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; follower.
The topic of discipleship came up in our small group this past week. We were studying what it should look like to be a disciple of Christ and how we are to be living out Matthew 28:19-20 by making disciples. Incredible conversation was had as we went back and forth with different discussion questions. I love our small group. When we meet together, I always feel that I walk away refreshed and challenged to be more like Christ. That’s what Christian fellowship should be. One of the many blessings I’ve experienced in my journey with Christ has been learning from ones that have gone before me, gleaning wisdom from someone who has walked with Christ longer than I have and is at least one step in front of me. For as long as I can remember, God has divinely placed someone in my life to help lead me closer to Himself. Even if I was in a season of faithlessness, God remained faithful in His pursuit of me. Sometimes it was a bible study leader, other times a pastor, a coach, or a friend, but each person made a profound impact on my life. I can only imagine that I made life difficult for many of those people that loved me and walked alongside of me as I went through my periods of wandering and rebellion, but I am who I am today because of God’s grace and their obedience to live out their faith by making disciples.
Not until my college years did I begin to really see the importance of discipling others. In all honesty, as I look back I see how I approached my faith with a consumer mentality. I was one who would take and take all that others were offering to me and feel really good about how I was growing spiritually, but giving back into the lives of others was another story. I lived for myself. During college, I was given the opportunity to mentor inner city junior high and high school girls. This experience changed my life forever. It’s hard pouring your life into someone else’s, especially when they don’t show any desire to change their behavior or to embrace faith in Jesus. I remember long, hard nights praying for my girls, desperately hoping that my efforts were not in vain. During that time, I remember thinking that there must have been countless prayers that had been poured out on my behalf, prayers from those that had discipled me. It was as if in an instant, God revealed to me the importance of both discipling and being discipled. Both are necessary in the life of a Christ follower. Both are exemplified in God’s Word.
It was also during this time that one of my college professors told me that everyone should always have a Paul and a Timothy in their life, someone who is leading you and someone whom you are leading. Something clicked. For years, I had lived off of the benefits of others investing their lives into mine, but I was beginning to see that their effort was meant for me to pass it on to someone else, to pay if forward if you will. To whom much is given, much is expected. God had richly blessed my life with godly women who had loved me and pointed me towards Jesus. I still needed their influence, but I also needed to take seriously the call that God places on the lives of all of His followers – to go and make disciples. You see, it’s not an option. It’s not a suggestion. I don’t think God makes many suggestions in His Word, really. The commands He gives us are for His glory and for our good. He knows that a life best lived is one that is walking in obedience to His Word. In His sovereignty, He could force every human being to follow Him, but because He is loving and good, He chooses to invite us into His work and to use us to accomplish His purposes here on this earth. What an amazing God we serve that He would delight in our fellowship with Him and our service to Him!
The 12 disciples walked with Christ, learned from Him, and when He ascended into heaven, they were given the responsibility of carrying the message of the gospel to every corner of the earth. And since Judas was out, the remaining 11 carried this responsibility. Now a few thousand years later, the saving message of the gospel of Jesus Christ lives on in power and authority because many before us have taken very seriously the call to make disciples. I want to be one that spends my life to the final day making disciples of Jesus Christ. There’s no higher calling. And I never want to stop learning. Forever a student of God’s Word, humble and teachable, I desire to grow in my knowledge of the Lord every day of my life. I will always see the importance of having a Paul in my life, an older woman to learn from as she lives out her faith. I will forever be devoted to having a Timothy in my life, someone who I can walk alongside, invest my life in, and point toward Jesus. Who is your Paul? Who is your Timothy?
Below is a picture of me and my college small group that I’ve had the privilege of leading now for two years. Some of the girls have come and gone, but my greatest joy has been to play even a small role in their growth in Christ and watching them become godly young women. My daily prayer is that God used the time we had together to shape their lives and draw them closer to the Lord.
As you spend time with the Lord today, allow His Word to speak to your heart and to challenge you to be a disciple and to make disciples. Here are a few verses for you to ponder: