The latest series we have started is about Raising Children and Discipleship. And in the first part of this series, I shared that just because you have a child does not mean that you are qualified to be a nurturing parent. Likewise, having people under you that you are responsible for does not automatically qualify you to be their discipler.
Discipleship starts when we do the following:
1. Develop the DESIRE to become a spiritual parent
2. Seek out the people whose hearts God has opened to you
3. Get a burden for those you are called to
I previously shared that making disciples is a universal calling for all Christians. In fact, it is in the pouring out of one’s life for another – with the purpose to see him or her succeeding and be greater – that one finds the true significance of life.
Significance is found in giving your life away, not in selfishly trying to find personal happiness.
Hence, making discipleship is more than a responsibility; it is truly a channel through which we die to ourselves and find the true meaning of life.
It is in our DNA to make disciples because God created us in this manner. It is who God is!
This is exactly why, despite having the foreknowledge that Adam and Eve would disobey Him, God still went ahead and created mankind. This is exactly why, despite the rejection and betrayal, Christ still went to the cross and died for us all. This is also why most couples despite knowing that having children will rob them of their personal freedom, drain them of their finances and may bring them heartaches and anxieties, still took the plunge and became parents!
Having the understanding that we are created to do this, let us not be afraid to be parents and make disciples of our own flesh and blood and that of our spiritual sons and daughters.
So what are the objectives of Discipleship?
1. To Form GODLY CHARACTER
As most of you know, I have 3 elementary school children: Ethan who is 9, Erin who just turned 7 (yeah!) and little Erika who will turn 6 in December. As their mother, one of my primary responsibilities is to ensure that they develop the right values and form godly characters in their lives. This is very crucial, as it will determine if they will be able to navigate wisely through their teenage years into their adulthood.
Our choices reflect our values. Hence, right values equal right choices! This does not mean that bad things will not happen, but in the event that it does, they are more likely to choose what is right by God and not what is popular.
How do we help them form the right value system? It is none other than living life and working together. It is in observing the way they talk and act and discerning their thoughts.
In this season, I am privileged to have the ability to stay at home and care for my children while in the US. While I enjoy taking care of them, I see that it is more important to get to know them.
There are many stay home moms who are so busy caring for their children – packing lunches, doing laundry, cleaning the house, going on field trips, planning birthday parties – and yet have no time to observe their children and to talk with them and get to know them INDIVIDUALLY.
I personally feel that this is a significant oversight. We need to major on the majors and minor on the minors! Developing character and wisdom in our children is definitely the primary goal.
Making spiritual disciples requires the same process. We need to know the ones that we are disciplining. However, the challenge is that we do not live life with them hence we cannot observe them at length.
While the ownership is on the one seeking discipleship to be open to communicate and to be transparent, the discipler can get to know the disciples better through:
a. Spending time asking questions and listening
b. Serving together in ministry
(I find this most effective in knowing a person because her personality, character and issues usually surfaces in her interaction with others)
c. Spiritual discernment
(Through the help of the Holy Spirit, we can develop an understanding of the inner life and hidden issues of the person we are helping)
2. To Develop SPIRITUAL GIFTS
Though not all have the 5-fold calling yet all who believed have received the Holy Spirit. Along with the Holy Spirit comes divine empowerment to operate in the spiritual realm. There are 25 spiritual gifts described in the Bible. Do you know your spiritual gifts and are you using them for the advancement of His Kingdom? I have discovered that many are clueless of their gifts and hence the Kingdom of God is deprived of the blessing that person’s gift can bring.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit and the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.
As one who disciple others, we should be constantly helping our disciples discover the gifts that are evident in their lives and encourage them to exercise them so that the gifts may be fully established. In most instances, knowing their gifts can provide clues for them to discover their calling in life.
3. To Help Discover HEAVEN’S CALLING
Finally, one of the greatest benefits that discipleship brings to a relationship is the discovery of a person’s purpose, calling and destiny.
The 12 disciples were fishermen living a mundane life until they encountered Jesus who turned their lives around. They became ‘fishers of men’ and found true meaning and purpose in their lifetime. Only through our encounter with Christ can we discover our heavenly calling.
However, God usually works through people such as our discipler to speed up the process of that discovery. One of the channels through which that happens is when we serve under the person who is discipling us.
However, I wish to point out that ultimately we should not be discipling people because we need them to serve our ministry. We disciple them because we desire to see them grow into mature sons and daughters of God who are exercising their spiritual gifts and walking in their destiny regardless they may or may not be a part of your ministry or work.
Truly, there is no greater joy than to see someone who through the help of your discipleship get to know their God and do great exploits and surpass you in your achievements!
That is my deepest desire for Ethan, Erin and Erika and for all those who throughout my ministry have come to walk alongside me.
Matthew 28:19 – Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.
Love, Susan Dunn