8 Fables and facts about discipleship

By Kerry Kind

The Great Commission – “Therefore, 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).


Discipleship is something I can do by myself—just Jesus and me.

Nope. While discipleship is all about Jesus, it’s not a solitary endeavor. Discipleship is relational, and to be obedient to the Great Commission, we need to be disciples who are making disciples of Jesus. This means we need to spend intentional, consistent time with others.


Discipling others is too complicated—let the professionals do it.

Whoa! You don’t need a seminary degree to disciple someone else. The original 12 were ordinary, unschooled people. You just have to be following Jesus in your own life and be willing to help someone else do the same. Discipling others is actually not so complicated. Fishermen and tax collectors who had no formal theology training did it. While it will not always be done perfectly or even with a lot of maturity, it was a risk Jesus took, entrusting the church to his disciples, young and old.


Discipleship is a program of the church.

While the church must encourage every Christian to be a discipler of others, discipleship is not just a program where believers can “opt in” or “opt out.” It is a major mistake to think of discipleship as a program. It’s a lifestyle. Every Christian should live a lifestyle of discipleship–all the time. The only thing required is a willing spirit with a lifetime commitment to Christ, and to intentionally share how you follow Jesus with others.


Helping make disciples is fine if you find it fulfilling.

Our culture says it is all about self-fulfillment. But Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Our lives are no longer our own—they are his. When I get “me” out of the way and step out obediently trusting God, I am free to love, lead, enjoy, and pray for those I disciple.


Seriously, I’m so busy, I don’t see any way to add more into my life.

Let’s face it. In our culture, busyness is a badge of honor. Discipleship may be taking a back seat because we run ourselves ragged with too many other activities, errands, social events, hobbies, causes, leisure preferences. If we totally buy in to our cultural value of “busyness,” discipleship and discipling others will not take place. As Christians, we must be counter-cultural. If we value the things of God, we must make choices and make room.


To be a discipler of others, I’m going to have to become their “best friend forever.”

It would be exhausting and unrealistic to think you have to become a best friend or even a close friend with every person you have a discipling relationship with. Jesus knew he could leave his disciples, knowing that they would be guided by the Holy Spirit. A healthy discipling relationship involves releasing those we help to go, live their walk with Jesus, and disciple others.


Discipling others can be accomplished almost automatically through Christian fellowship.

It actually has to be intentional and prayerful. In order to build a strong disciple, you must intentionally invest time thinking and praying about where the person is on the path to spiritual maturity. Ask questions seeking understanding about where they are. Be faithful to find and share content based on the Scriptures. Discipleship is intentional. It’s time invested in a few people, on purpose. This is how Jesus did it.


Isn’t discipling pretty much the same thing as mentoring?

Similar, but with mentoring in the secular world, it’s your experience and wisdom that you are passing on. With discipling, it’s the presence and wisdom of Jesus you are connecting them to. The real mentor is the Holy Spirit, and you are just introducing them to the way you follow Jesus.

Discipleship won’t work if your private life doesn’t match your public life. You don’t have to be perfect, but are you the same person at home that you are in public? Also, the results are in God’s hands, so the foundation is prayer. As Oswald Chambers wrote: "It is impossible to live the life of a disciple without definite times of secret prayer. . . in the ordinary ways of life, when no one dreams you are praying, and the reward comes openly, a revival here, a blessing there."

What do we get right in discipleship?

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