Discipleship, Part 4: Me—Disciple?
II Timothy 1:13-14 [Paul to Timothy] Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
II Timothy 2:1-2 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
There is a dynamic of continuous training in discipleship. We are discipled so that we may in turn disciple others who are to disciple others. Chances are that if you are a serious Christian, you are in some kind of discipleship relationship already, even if you’ve never thought about it in those terms.
Intense training relationships such as Jesus’ training of the twelve apostles—in particular, Peter, James and John—was discipleship plus leadership training. So was Paul’s training of Timothy and Titus. Not all Christian discipleship is leadership development. But Paul makes it clear that there was to be ongoing discipleship that didn’t stop with the person being discipled.
If we stopped reading II Timothy at the end of the first chapter, we might conclude that the things Timothy learned from Paul should be held onto and kept tight. We just have to read a few more verses to see that that is the opposite of what Paul was saying. Those good things we receive from God directly and through others, we are to keep, make ours, and then pass along in a spirit of service and ministry.
You may not think of yourself as a discipler of others. You are, and you are likely functioning that way already. If you’ve ever explained something to another Christian that you’ve learned, you’ve discipled. If you’ve affirmed or encouraged, you’ve discipled. If you’ve taught anyone anything, you’ve discipled.
Most people who back away from the concept of discipling others do so out of fear or misunderstanding. Here are a few thoughts you may need to take to heart:
• It is the Holy Spirit that convicts of sin and illuminates the heart—not us.
• People grow spiritually at different rates; no two grow the same way.
• You don’t have to become a counselor and fix people or their problems.
• Yes, real discipleship can be awkward when you first get intentional about it.
“But what do I have to give?” you might ask. Take another look at Romans 12:6-8:
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Don’t take more responsibility on yourself than you need to, but use your gifts to bless others. If you desire to dominate someone else, pull back and get more discipling yourself. If you long to serve others, start giving them what you’ve received.
Prayer: Father, give me direction in serving others in this area. I offer You my heart and willingness. I admit that I don’t fully know what I have to give. Show me what I can pass along in service to others, and help me to take the place of discipling that You have for me.