Discipleship is such an important biblical command, and it comes in all sizes and shapes. Unfortunately, most church’s today don’t place a lot of focus on the importance of one-on-one discipleship. It’s so important to have someone come alongside you in an atmosphere where you might feel more comfortable sharing things you wouldn’t in a larger group. I hope and pray that this article will give you the confidence to consider cultivating these relationships in your own walk. Here are some helpful tips I’ve learned along the way…
1. PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
-2 Timothy 2:15
The most important thing we can do when we are mentoring someone is to be a good example. And be a good example not so the person you are leading can see how perfect you are, but so that we can show them how important Christ is to us by the way we live. This should be our goal with everyone we meet or live with. People can see how important Jesus is to you by the way you treat your spouse, or interact with strangers.
2. BE HUMBLE AS YOU SERVE.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”-Mark 10:45
You are not the boss, Jesus is. We shouldn’t abuse this person that God has so generously entrusted to us by making it about ourselves. Put their needs ahead of your own, and show them the same compassion and consideration you would wish on yourself. When we are humble, God gives us favor.
3. KEEP JESUS AT THE CENTER.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”-Matthew 6:33
It’s important to have fun with the person you are meeting with, but it’s also important to not forget why you both are there. It’s not just a social gathering; you are meeting for a purpose. If you have to write a list of questions that bring focus to your time together, do it! Steer the conversation back on track, and be thoughtful. How was your time spent with God that week? Did you have any prayers answered? What did you read that was pleasing to God? Focus on the kingdom to make the most out of your gathering. You don’t have to be overly religious or spiritual, but if you spend an hours together without bringing up Jesus, or how to live a life more focused on Him, then you’re missing the point.
4. EVERY GOOD TEACHER WAS FIRST A GOOD STUDENT.
“It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes.”-Deuteronomy 17:19
I disciple a handful of people, but I also AM a disciple. I try to meet with my mentors (it’s okay to have more than one) at least once a week, and we talk over the phone almost everyday. I can’t give someone something I don’t have. My cup gets empty at times, and it’s good to have people who can steer me back onto the path. On top of mentors, I read as much as I can, watch TV that is pleasing to God, listen to sermons on the radio, etc. Spending my time in ways that help me to grow in my faith helps me to help others. Often times, the people I disciple help me to learn and grow just as much as my mentors. Everyone has unique experiences and unique strengths. Staying teachable is important in our journey to become better followers of Jesus. One of the things I love about God is that I could spend ever day of the rest of my life learning, going deeper into Him, yet never exhausting the unknowable-ness of Him! It’s almost like a wonderful treasure hunt that God has given to us as a gift, to continue to know more and more about who He is!
5. BE FAITHFUL.
“Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”-1 Corinthians 4:1-2
Discipling someone is not a sprint, but a marathon. Everyone has had an experience where they felt neglected, forgotten, or unloved. And often times, people new to the faith are afraid that their new family (the church) is going to be just like the rest of the world. If you can’t commit the focus and attention that this task deserves, then maybe you shouldn’t commit in the first place. This principle is one we should carry into every aspect of our lives, whether marriage, a new job, or our church. We have to be ready to sacrifice our comfort, our time, and our energy in order to be a good steward when it comes to relationships.
6. BRING IT BACK TO THE BIBLE.
“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”-Proverbs 25:2
The Word of God is living, and sharper than any two edged sword (Heb. 4:12). I think that if you want to use a study guide to help you make the best of your time together, then that is a great idea. However, make sure that the wisdom you are getting isn’t just coming from man. This is important not only in discipleship, but in life. Jesus says in Matthew 24:11, “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.”(emphasis mine) He didn’t say just a few people would be deceived. He said MANY would be led astray by these false teachings. Check out the Word for yourself, read it in context, and decide if what you are hearing from others is true or not. This is too important to entrust to anyone other than yourself. Make a habit of studying the Word of God daily.
7. PRAY, PRAY, AND PRAY SOME MORE.
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”-1 John 5:14-15
As we learned last month, in my article on Prayer and Other Weapons, prayer isn’t a last resort; prayer is a FIRST RESPONSE. We should be in prayer for all of our relationships, especially discipleship. If you don’t have anyone to disciple, pray that God will show you someone that you can partner with, and pray that He will strengthen you for that relationship in the meantime. Pray in agreement with your mentor, and with the person you mentor to have God direct the focus during your time together. Pray that He would sharpen you to discern what you should say and do. God gives His wisdom freely to anyone who asks (James 1:5). So ASK! If you have trouble focusing try getting some tips on prayer from friends, family, or your favorite blogger 🙂
8. CHOOSE YOUR DESTINATION.
“There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel-that will stand.”-Proverbs 19:21
This tip comes from the first question I have for everyone who has asked me to help disciple them. I ask them what their goal is for our time together. Your understanding and their understanding of what it is they want to get out of this partnership may be entirely opposite. Make sure you start with a clear picture of what this relationship looks like. For some it may look like sitting down and studying God’s word together; for others it may look like something less formal-sharing a meal and telling each other what is going on in your life. Neither one of these are wrong if the focus is centered in Christ. But they are drastically different expectations which, if left unaddressed, could present problems down the road. Get an idea of what both of your goals are and iron out the details ahead of time.
Don’t be afraid to deviate from the plan every one in awhile. You don’t have to script every moment. Let the Holy Spirit guide you.
My prayer is that God blesses you in your search for wisdom in one of the most important, if not the most important, commandment He has ever entrusted to each and everyone of us! Please contact me if you have any questions, or would like more studies about discipleship or any other topic!