In God’s infinitely wise and good design, He created His children to rely on Him and to live in fellowship with one another. These truths are evident throughout Scripture (Jeremiah 7:23, Ezekiel 36:28-30, John 15:5, to name a few). God has also commanded that we live in loving and united fellowship with other believers, especially within the local church (Ephesians 4:1-6, 1 Peter 3:8, Hebrews 10:24-25). Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” Discipleship is a beneficial tool that Christians can utilize to receive wisdom, guidance, encouragement, and if necessary, admonishment. Within the local church body, Christians must live and be in fellowship with one another in order to walk alongside each other, build each other up to love and good works, as well as teach and admonish one another. Discipleship is an intentional and critical way that a Christian can walk alongside another believer to pursue godliness, encouragement, help, and guidance.

In Titus 2:3-5, the example is given of the older women in the church training up the younger women to “love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands.” The older women who had lived longer lives of following the Lord were to teach and guide the younger women to live their lives in a righteous and God-honoring way. There is no explicit command in this passage that depicts how this training was to take place. It does not command it to be done in a formal or strict setting, but simply that this training up and guiding should take place. In like manner, Proverbs 27:17 explains that, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

Men, therefore, should seek to build one another up in the faith, to love and good works, and be sources of encouragement to one another. We, as Christians, cannot have this guidance, encouragement, and direction without the fellowship that God has designed us for (Hebrews 10:23-25). Discipleship is essentially a relationship in which a Christian seeks the guidance and wisdom of another believer in order to live their lives in a manner that is honoring to God and grow in their understanding and love for Him. This process is often most easily done in informal, casual, and everyday settings in which believers can live their lives while at the same time doing life with another Christian and discussing gospel truths. Looking to the gospel not only reminds believers of their own sinful nature, but of the good news of God’s mercy and love through Christ, which is what should push us on toward the upward call of God (Philippians 3:14). We must constantly point each other to Christ, the hope of the gospel, and our need for sanctification. Hebrews 10:24 and 1 Thessalonians 5:11 express that we are to encourage one another and build each other up in love and good works. Intentional discipleship is an excellent way to pursue these good commands, while at the same time living in fellowship with another believer.

There are numerous and varying ways in which discipleship can take place and be received, so I will not attempt to list all of them or go into too many possibilities. I do, however, want to focus on 5 key points that I believe may be beneficial for someone seeking to be discipled. These 5 ideas have proved beneficial in my own life as grounding stakes to hold on to while being discipled and mentoring someone. It is my hope that these points will be relevant, beneficial, and encouraging.

  1. Choose a faithful follower of Christ to disciple you. This point may seem ridiculously obvious, but it is absolutely crucial to understand and grasp. Discipleship is meant to build a believer up in the faith to live for Him in an honoring way – and this guidance and training regarding living out the faith should come from someone who is of the faith and following the Lord with their lives. Seeking out a faithful member of one’s church body can often be the best way to begin this journey. Finding a member of one’s church who has been faithful both to the Lord and the church is someone who could have wisdom, guidance, encouragement, and life experience to speak from. Look for someone who has followed the Lord for years and has the advantage of looking back on their life and seeing the hand of God at work so that they can share their God-given wisdom with you.
  2. Be flexible with your desires and the overall outcome. Although it is helpful to have an idea of what kind of help or encouragement you desire in discipleship, go into it knowing that not every specific want may be met. Be willing to meet in casual settings and glean the wisdom and guidance that your mentor has to offer. That does not mean you should go into discipleship with no questions or ideas at all, but that you should be willing to take in advice and guidance even if it does not seem like it fulfills your direct desires. Pastor Jay Bauman, Author of The Church and Discipleship on Ligonier, explains that “true discipleship is not just about hanging out. True discipleship is about embracing gospel truths in the context of a biblical community that results in life change. It’s about visibly seeing sanctification in the life of a new believer. It’s about progressively becoming more aware of our sinfulness and of God’s holiness.”[1]
  3. Be flexible with time and location as much as possible. Often when meeting with a mentor for discipleship who has kids, a family, or other obligations, it may be difficult for them to go out somewhere or meet regularly. Becky Wilson, co-author of Go Outside: & 19 Other Keys to Thriving in Your 20’s, notes that, “You might desire to meet every week, but rather than ask for that specifically, first ask how much time they are comfortable giving you. Once a month may be all they can afford.”[2] Be willing to go to their home, help out with different tasks, keep the conversation going while on a walk, or meet in a place that may be more out of the way. In my own life, this looked like going to my mentor’s house, helping with different things around the house, discussing life, playing with the kids, and talking about spiritual matters and truths while on a walk. This was so encouraging as it helped me see how another Christian family ran their home and lived their lives as followers of Christ, and also provided me the opportunity to be intentional with conversations.
  4. While discipleship is meant to be upbuilding and beneficial, it must not take the place of going to the Lord Himself through prayer. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says that we are to “pray without ceasing.” Romans 12:12b instructs us to “be constant in prayer.” Whether you are being discipled, discipling someone, or neither, prayer must be one of the pinnacles of the Christian’s everyday life. Pray about being discipled, pray for wisdom and guidance, pray for discernment and encouragement, pray that the Lord would draw you closer to Himself and to other believers around you. God’s Word is filled with the riches of righteousness, goodness, love, steadfastness, and encouragement; it is a wonderful thing to take the time to pray through it.
  5. Focus on the word. Meeting with someone for discipleship is important, but it must be informed and guided first and foremost by God’s Word to deepen a Christian’s love for and understanding of God. God has clearly given us His commands through His inspired Word, and Christians being discipled or discipling someone must use Scripture to guide their focus, desires, goals, and conversations. His word is the lamp to believers’ lives (Psalm 119:105).

In summary, the concise version of the five keys listed above are to look for a faithful Christian for discipleship, be willing to be flexible with the outcome as well as time and location, stay rooted in prayer, and stay focused on God’s Word. Again, there are seemingly endless ways in which godly and upbuilding discipleship can take place, but I believe these five keys can prove themselves to be beneficial guidelines to keep in one’s mind when pursuing discipleship.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

[1] Jay Bauman, “The Church and Discipleship,” Ligonier Ministries, August 25, 2016,

https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/church-and-discipleship.

[2] Jared Wilson and Becky Wilson, Go Outside: & 19 Other Keys to Thriving in Your Twenties (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2023), 54.

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