In its simplest form, “disciple” means “learner.” A disciple is a student of someone else.
In Jesus’ day, “disciple” was not a unique term solely reserved for spiritual contexts. It was used to describe whenever one was learning something from another.
In our context, we automatically envision a student learning in some educational setting. While a version of classroom learning did exist during Jesus’ time, most education was done “along the way” rather than “in the seat.” Disciples matured by immersing themselves in modeling, equipping, and implementing types of environments. You weren’t a disciple from afar. You could never accept that designation if you only heard the expert nestled from your seat in the back of the classroom.
A disciple became a follower of the mentor and learned all that he could by observing the mentor’s life up close.
In Jesus’ efforts to disciple the original twelve, he exemplified what he expected them to imitate. Choose a small number of people, and ask them to follow you wholeheartedly for a set time. Empty yourself and give them everything you have. Multiply yourself through those disciples, and then send them out to replicate what you did.
The process of discipleship is supremely simple yet intricately involved.
If discipleship is so simple in theory, why aren’t we doing it? Here are 5 reasons we neglect discipleship.
- Apathy – An apathetic disposition sidelines many people. Too many worldly concerns have stolen our hearts and quieted our passions (2 Tim. 4:10).
- Insecurity – Some allow insecurity to rob us of discipleship opportunities. Many of us have this imaginary spiritual qualification line in our minds. We honestly believe once we cross it, we will be ready to make disciples. The only problem is that the line continues to distance itself every time we draw near.
- Complexity – We believe that discipleship has a nature of complexity. Unfortunately, we have put so many hurdles in front of our efforts that we honestly buy into the lie that it is too difficult even to attempt.
- Unavailability – Many of us will never engage in discipleship due to our unavailability. People take time and effort, and we would rather meet with them occasionally than walk beside them throughout life.
- Unclarity – Many of us neglect discipleship due to unclarity. While we talk about its importance, we simply don’t know where to begin.
Let’s remove the excuses and get to work. We have wasted enough time despairing our inabilities; it is time to start embracing our opportunities.
I know you aren’t perfect – that’s why you need to disciple the person to Jesus. Take what you have and teach it to one other person. That’s the start.