Discipleship. It’s a term that has been exponentially growing in appeal and practice over the past couple of years. One that I feel as though hasn’t been practiced as much or emphasized enough compared to some of the other disciplines like fasting, prayer or tithing. This at least is my observation…if I’m gravely mistaken please feel free to correct me.
As a teenager, I’ll admit that I was probably too prideful and arrogant to respond to anyone’s willingness to disciple me. It’s the problem with youthfulness. We have no concept of life or death; we think we will always be forever young, that we will live forever and that we’ll never have any responsibility or care in the world. Why would we ever need any counsel, when we have all the answers! Oh the naivety of youth...
My dad died my freshmen year of high school. And it wasn’t till after my dad died, that I really felt like I wanted to be discipled. There was an obvious void for which no-one would ever be able to fill. However, one of my friend’s dads started leading a Bible study that eventually gave him permission to disciple our circle of friends. He would go to most of the high school games whether his son was playing that sport or not and root for the team and all of us. I will always be grateful for the investment he made into our lives as it has had a lifelong impact on who I am today.
Obviously I’m writing this because I’ve been very intrigued by discipleship, especially as it pertains to leadership and my life. As I read the Bible and begin to reflect upon my life as a Christian trying to be Christ-like, I see failed discipleship efforts and ones of success. Such is the story of our lives. I don’t believe anyone ever lives a life of complete success, because without any bitter taste of failure we would never know the sweet taste of victory.
My failures often occurred in relationships where I was either forced into discipleship or arrogantly and foolishly thought that I could impart my wisdom and knowledge. My discipleship successes came when the relationship developed naturally over time, out of intentionality, often times with kindred spirits, and in some instances Spirit-led. As I’ve reflected on my successes and failures, I’ve had to ask myself, have I made a difference? Have I imparted the lessons that I’ve learned and the wisdom I’ve gained? Have I challenged those I’ve discipled to be better than themselves?
Unfortunately, or fortunately only time will tell. Time of course, like inches, feet, or meters is a form of measurement. I don’t think anyone would have thought that the very first “disciples” would have ever been ready enough to change the world. So many times Jesus had to rebuke or correct them…they couldn’t even stay awake to pray with Jesus before his crucifixion! Yet, they would go on to start and lead the church.
Only time will tell…this is the measurement of discipleship. Time will tell whether those we disciple will do something radical like go-on to change the world or return to their boats to go fishing. But we must be intentional about sharing our life lessons, counseling, and guiding those we disciple…challenging them to be better than themselves and us.