There are many factors that go into a healthy mentoring and discipleship relationship. Jesus not only called us to make disciples but he showed us how to effectively disciple through his ministry years on earth. I call these the “X” factors since “X” in the Greek Language signifies Christ. As we briefly explore these factors, consider how they apply to your own life experience and then feel free to comment at the end.
Jesus didn’t undertake this life-impacting relationship lightly. If we are to disciple like Jesus we must spend time prayerfully considering whom it is that the Lord would have us invest our time, energy and resources. There are many times when Jesus addressed the “multitudes” however, much of His ministry time was spent with a certain 12 people. Discipleship at it’s purest level is a one-on-one relationship operating with a teacher/student dynamic. Jesus did not disclose everything to everyone but He did share His heart, experiences and life for 3 years in close proximity to the 12. Pray about the person (s) God would have you share your most intimate times, stories, and life.
The Lord went and called people to “follow Me”. These disciples were not out looking for someone to follow, they were simply engaged in their own lives and work. To disciple like Jesus means that we have to not only pray about the people the Lord would have us invest, but we must seek them out. As a discipler, we have to initiate the relationship. We have to pursue “students”. Some of these people are in our lives already and we just need to define the relationship and provide some structure. However, there are also many people who have never been pursued or engaged in any kind of discipleship relationship and thus are floundering in their faith. As you pray, ask God to bring people into your life that He would have you disciple but be willing to pursue and initiate the relationship. Don’t wait for them to seek after you. Jesus showed us that we have to pursue the people we are to disciple.
Jesus was committed to His disciples. This is no easy task, to disciple people, especially in our current society. People are far less committed to anything than ever before. With over 50% of marriages ending in divorce, it is easy to see that the value of maintaining a committed relationship over the long haul has changed in America. This is no different in a discipleship relationship. Even after Jesus was betrayed by His own, He loved them and pursued them. He forgave their mistakes and welcomed those who doubted, fled and denied Him. He was committed to the person, not their perfection.As we engage in discipling others, we most certainly can expect to endure hardship, trials and errors but we must remain faithfully committed to those we have prayerfully entered in with this relationship. With time being such a commodity, be careful of overcommitting. Jesus was committed to 12 but He was also the Son of God. You may only be able to commit to one or two people and effectively disciple them. That’s ok. Just be committed to those one or two.
There were many times when the disciples just didn’t get it. They may have heard what Jesus was saying and even had an inside track to his heart, mind and ways. But that didn’t mean they understood what He was all about. Time after time, the disciples had to ask for explanations and further insight from Jesus and Jesus gave it to them. He was patient, gentle and consistent in His teaching of His disciples. He pulled them aside and explained to them things that seemed to baffle them and He also gave them special teaching times as they traveled together from place to place. As a discipler, make sure you teach the scripture and find ways to make it applicable to daily life. Jesus employed the use of parables or “stories” to help his disciples get His lessons. He took advantage of His surroundings and used analogies and metaphors His disciples could understand. He had a timeline He was operating from and yet was more committed to developing the core of the disciples rather than making sure they got the “answers” right.
Jesus “lived” with His disciples. I’m not saying to bring 12 people into your home and do everything together but I am saying that sharing as much “life” together is the best and most effective factor in discipling others. From trips to the grocery store to spiritual retreats, going places and doing things together is the best way for you to teach your disciples. Allowing them to see you from the inside out is what will truly transfer your faithwalk into something tangible for your disciples. Jesus knew this and He employed this strategy by inviting all disciples on some travels and yet limiting some experiences for a trio of disciples. As you live out your life in front of your disciples, they will glean lessons and impressions that no classroom outside of life could teach.
Are there other “X” Factors you can think of? Comment and join the conversation below.