A very good friend of mine in New Zealand called together about a dozen Christian men and pastors to discuss one of my books on discipleship. I opened the conversations by asking the group to define the words disciple and discipleship.
It was interesting to hear the varied answers. Words like this came up in the discussion: apprentice, follower, servant, mentor, devoted believer, a special kind of learner, leader-in-training. While all these words are pieces of the definition in defining our relationship as authentic disciples of Christ, there needs to be further explanation of the context of our relationship to Jesus and one-another.
My friend Pat Morley once said, “A disciple is someone called to live ‘in’ Christ, equipped to love ‘like’ Christ, and sent to live ‘for’ Christ.” In my book The Spiritual Mentor I state the following:
Mentoring and discipleship are very similar, and you will find in this book that I use the terms interchangeably; however, the essence of discipleship is finding a spiritual mentor with who whom you can connect. Spiritual mentoring implies the heart of discipling another person within the context of a relational mentoring environment.
Throughout the New Testament we read about disciples. Our ministry has had the privilege of writing several books on the subject and delivering scores of messages about what it means to be a disciple.
My review of Scripture suggests that a disciple must not only accept by faith the promises of Christ but must also be willing to apply the truth he knows. There must be a resulting action from the commitment or conversion experience. As Jesus tells us, “By their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:16 NIV) There must be a by-product to a Spirit-filled life. “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” (John 9:4 NIV) “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed — not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence — continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” (Philippians 2:12 NIV).
The Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Romans prior to his visit to Rome. He begins his letter to the believers in Rome by surveying the spiritual condition of all mankind, especially as he understood it to be in Rome. If you look at Rome it was much like America is today. The first eleven chapters in this book explain: the problem of sin; salvation through Christ is the only answer; how the Holy Spirit can help sanctify a person; and that we serve a grace-filled God who wishes none to perish.
Paul goes on in Chapter 12 to say that what he covered in chapters 1–11 is not all there is to being a Christian. In Romans 12 he provides us with a definition of a Christian.
- Vs. 1 Surrendered to God.
- Vs. 2 Be not of this world — be transformed.
- Vs. 3 Thinking accurately of self — God made me for His glory.
- Vs. 9 Relationship with others — loving people — this is how we treat each other in the body. – Matthew 22
- Vs. 13 Serving in love — God allows you to supernaturally love others. – Matthew 20:26
It’s that simple. Let’s all work on being a Romans 12 disciple.
Jewish teachers taught by a discipleship process that encouraged the students to ask questions to which the teacher would reply. They developed relationship beyond the spiritual dimension. How are you discipling others that God puts in your life?
Our ministry can provide you with many resources to assist you in the spiritual mentor process (mensministrycatalyst.org). Which ones will work best for you?
Jim Grassi, D. Min.