The four Gospels present Jesus in action training His disciples. Because Jesus is our ultimate model, here are six particular aspects of the way He made disciples:
1. The Disciples of Jesus were Teachable
All those Jesus selected (except Judas) were ordinary, simple, working people. Jesus selected them because they had hearts that were willing to learn. Deep inside they were teachable.
Godly leaders are not made with money or education. They are made by transferring values from a godly older person to a younger person who may not be godly now, but who is willing to learn the ways of God.
2. Jesus taught by His life and example
For three and a half years, Jesus stayed with His disciples. He spent day after day with them. In His class, He was not only their Teacher but also the subject they were studying. His life taught them.
Can you honestly say to your younger brother, as the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”?
- Are there one or two brothers who come to your house regularly to spend time with you and your family?
- Do they know how you live and what your weaknesses are?
- Do they know about the times you have had to repent to your wife and kids, or are you keeping the door shut?
No worker is truly God’s worker who cannot expose his life to others whom he is trying to help. Let your life teach others what it means to truly walk with Christ.
3. Jesus required absolute obedience
Following Christ is not a light thing. Jesus was more concerned with gathering a few committed individuals who would obey Him no matter what, rather than many who were half-hearted.
He didn’t want the superficial and self-seeking following Him. The person who is following Christ for position, power, money, excitement or something to do will never follow Him in absolute obedience, which is what He required. They must be willing to walk as He walked, obedient to the Father, even unto death.
4. Jesus completely gave of Himself
Jesus completely spent Himself on the disciples. He imparted everything He was to them, holding nothing back. He opened His life to them. Jesus could have done the opposite—demanding He be treated as the king He really was and drawing a clear separation between the disciples and Himself. But He didn’t do this. And neither must we.
How do you become the servant of all?
- You take on the attitude and behavior of a servant.
- You give of yourself.
- You go out of your way to help others.
- You encourage and pray for others.
If you want to train somebody, don’t sit at the top of the pyramid; rather, come to the other person’s level. Be like Jesus—give yourself to the people around you, being an example of Christ and discipling them in this same way.
5. Jesus showed the way
Christ worked wonderfully through demonstration. Jesus was the model. For three and a half years He took care of His disciples, defended them, protected them, covered their sins and loved them. And in the Upper Room, just before going to the cross, He said, “Children, come. I want to tell you something. This is My commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.”
Train people by demonstrating and showing them the way.
- Instead of discussing and gossiping about others who are not acting as they should, let others see that you fast and pray for the Lord to help those people.
- Instead of just talking about seeking forgiveness from another, be the one who repents of your own sin toward the other person.
The world must see how you live, serving as the example for those around you. From these small actions you will have preached the most powerful sermons without a single word.
6. Jesus delegated responsibility
In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 10, we find Jesus sending out the disciples to do the things He had been doing—healing the sick, raising the dead, driving out demons.
To disciple and see growth, you, too, must delegate responsibility to those who are serving the Lord with you. Give others a job to do. Not only do they grow in their own walk with the Lord, but the ministry grows as well.
Delegating means trusting others with jobs or duties. You might think, Nobody is able to do this like me. You are making a significant mistake. Remember that at some point somebody trusted you with responsibility. Were you perfect when you were given that responsibility? Didn’t you make some mistakes? Release other people, then, to take some of your tasks and empower them by trusting them with responsibility, with money and with people.
Making disciples is our great privilege
Disciples are produced one by one, with time, understanding and patience. It is a great privilege the Lord gives us to help raise up believers who will do the will of God, and invest our lives in the brothers and sisters around us.
To read more on the topic of Discipleship on Patheos by Dr. KP Yohannan Metropolitan, go here.
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Are you a young person in need of discipleship yourself? Find out about Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship.
Dr. KP Yohannan, founder and director of the nonprofit organization Gospel for Asia, has written more than 200 books, including Revolution in World Missions, an international bestseller with more than 4 million copies in print. He and his wife, Gisela, have two grown children, Daniel and Sarah, who both serve the Lord with their families.
Gospel for Asia is a nonprofit organization serving the “least of these” in Asia since its beginning in 1979, often in places where no one else is serving. Gospel for Asia supports national workers who are serving as the hands and feet of Christ by ministering to people’s needs so they can understand the love of God for them for the first time. Gospel for Asia is engaged in dozens of projects, such as caring for poor children, slum dwellers and widows and orphans; providing clean water by funding wells; supporting medical missions; and meeting the needs of those in leprosy colonies. Through Gospel for Asia’s Bridge of Hope Program, tens of thousands of children are being rescued from the generational curses of poverty and hopelessness.