Like you, I have many things that bring me great joy. I love to travel. Have a passport? I am ready to leave! I love to compete. Ready for a game night? I will bring the chips! I love being with my God-daughter. Any opportunity I have to spend time with her is precious to me!
But very high up on the list of personal things that I love is the opportunity to disciple someone. Right now, I am meeting weekly with a gal that I met through my teaching ministry. We spend a couple hours together every Tuesday. We are working our way through various books of the Bible. She studies during the week, writes down her questions and I try to answer them. Of course, all kinds of wonderful discussions ensue. It is a highlight to my week.
During Covid, some students that I know were not able to go back to school and really missed their Bible study time. So, I had a 3rd grader and 5th grader meet me out on my porch each Monday morning. I took them through the book of 1 Samuel. We memorized Scripture together, role-played some characters, talked about how to apply those stories to their lives, took a quiz or two, and studied some maps. It was a blast.
I share those two experiences to highlight that discipleship efforts often look quite different, but they all have some key ingredients that help make a discipleship relationship meaningful.
First, let’s be clear on the goal. The purpose is simply to help someone else grow in their relationship with Jesus. It is not necessarily a teaching opportunity, but it certainly will involve God’s Word. We don’t need to follow a printed curriculum or mirror what someone else does. We just need to be willing to come alongside a friend and help them move forward in their spiritual life.
Second, recognize that there are a wide range of reasons why a discipleship opportunity presents itself. Perhaps the person you are discipling may have a specific need that you can address. Or maybe you see amazing potential in their walk and want to help spur them along. The Christian life is a journey, and we are all trudging down the same path. The reason why we meet together isn’t all that important, it’s just critical that we treasure that time together.
Third, remember that discipleship takes time and effort. It is more than just idle chit chat over a cup of coffee. It is intentional. We have to be willing to spend hours, maybe even seasons of life, to see spiritual fruit in our friend’s life. Paul spent over seven years discipling Timothy.
And lastly, don’t miss that discipleship occurs as we are “on the way.” Paul and Timothy had conversations as they walked from town to town. No doubt, they chatted as they leaned against the rail on a ship while sailing to a new port. They shared conversation over a warm fire in the evening. Paul and Timothy did normal life together.
The heartbeat of discipleship is a willingness–no, a deep desire to accompany someone on the way. We just want to be together as we follow hard after Jesus.
So, who are you discipling?
Sherry Worel is a Bible teacher at heart and lives a life of ministry. She’s been involved at Coast Hills teaching Women’s LIFE, Bible studies, online courses, devotionals, participating in Upstream conversations, and much more. Having a love for education, Sherry has over 50 years of teaching experience with schools, churches, and mission agencies. As well as earning her Master’s at Talbot Seminary, she rounded out her education with 35 years as Head of School at Stoneybrooke Christian School. Sherry is happiest with a book or fishing pole in hand.