A Disciple Is A Learner

Matthew 11:28–29 records Jesus saying, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” In the first century, teachers used the image of a yoke to illustrate a student’s submission to teaching. To take on a teacher’s yoke is to demonstrate the essential quality of “teachability.” A willing student never says, “I know it all.”

Learning takes place when one individual becomes a student (disciple) of another. “Every person has specific needs that must be targeted by a trusted mentor who has taken the time and put forth the effort to develop a meaningful one-to-one relationship,” writes Bill Hull.[1] Much of discipleship is caught rather than taught, learned in the midst of life rather than in a classroom. We all need someone to help us become the persons God wants us to be so that we’ll be able to do what He wants us to do. Based on the kind of regular interaction you have with one or more individuals, ask yourself what kind of changes are taking place in your life and how are you being pushed to resemble Jesus more each day. And that includes passing on to others what has been life-changing in your life (Colossians 1:6).

True learning, biblically speaking, only takes place when one’s life is transformed…when it changes the way you live.

[1] Bill Hull, Jesus Christ, Disciplemaker: 20th Anniversary Edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004), 136.

A Disciple Is A Follower

A disciple is one who follows and imitates the life and teachings of another person. For the Christian, that means following another who, in turn, follows Jesus and obeys what He taught. Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Paul never claimed to be perfect. He was, however, consistent in the way he followed Jesus. We can become model disciples as well. To have the kind of impact that God desires, we need to make sure we are following Christ consistently.

If you think you have to be a perfect model, think again. The Lord knows we are imperfect. Our job is to point others to Him and we can do that even as we fail, repent, receive forgiveness, and resume our pursuit of Christ. Remember our friend Peter who dared to walk on the water? He had his share of failures too. Even so, Jesus didn’t disqualify him. The Lord said to His willing follower, “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32 italics added). Strengthen your brothers on the basis of your failure, your weakness, and what you learned from God’s abundant mercy.

A Disciple Is A Reproducer

Reproducing disciples involves taking what the Lord has invested into our lives and passing along those truths to others. The essence of being a disciple is to be a dispenser of truth, not simply a depository of divine data. Too many Christians consume information without letting wisdom change them; consequently, they become stagnate pools of useless knowledge. One study indicates merely twenty percent of all Christians consistently tell others about Jesus Christ[1]. Fewer still actively disciple new believers. This study also reveals ninety-five percent of those who claim to follow Jesus have never led one other person to the Lord[2].  How tragic!

Christ has already set in place a strategy for maximum impact. But His followers must be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to work through them in order to fulfill Christ’s mandate, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19–20).

So, how do you “make disciples”?

1. First, tell others about Him. Tell them your story, how Jesus has loved you and changed your life, and how He’ll do the same for them. You don’t have to wait until you finish The Four Priorities to do that! You can tell people TODAY about what Jesus has done in your life.  (Click here to watch a short video of John explaining Why We Need Jesus.)

2. Second, walk alongside them in their new faith journey (disciple them) and help equip them to become a learner, follower, and reproducer for Jesus Christ. Just as young children need strong parents, family and caretakers to rear them, so do young believers need mature and wise believers helping them grow in their faith. Whether you are a young or mature believer (and age has nothing to do with it!) as long as you walk this earth you should seek out others to invest in you as well as pour yourself out.

[1] “Street Level Evangelism, Where is the Space for the Local Evangelist,” by Michael Parrott, Acts Evangelism, Spokane, WA, 1993, pp. 9-11, via http://bible.org/illustration/evangelism-statistics

[2] “Street Level Evangelism, Where is the Space for the Local Evangelist,” by Michael Parrott, Acts Evangelism, Spokane, WA, 1993, pp. 9-11, via http://bible.org/illustration/evangelism-statistics