THEIR HOME IN ORDER
1 Timothy 3 makes it very clear that a church leader and mature disciple has his/her home in order. That does not mean that by appearance on the outside they seem to have a good marriage and/or have obedient children. This strong exhortation means that they have taken the time to learn and work out God’s instructions in how to tend to each other as a husband/wife, and as parents to their children.
Sadly, this is an area that is overlooked when deciding on anyone being considered for a ministry position. Indirectly, by doing this, we are minimizing the value and priority God has placed upon marriage and our families.
NOTE: If a potential disciple has never been discipled themselves in being a husband/wife or parent, it is important to first invest the time into them to learn and a season to work out God’s non-negotiable principles in their homes.
A discipler must:
• Have made a personal commitment to Christ.
• Be a patient and a good listener.
• Be committed to a local church, has personal accountability, an honorable reputation and proven faithfulness within that church body.
• Be motivated by love for the Lord, a desire to glorify God and to edify another believer, not personal gain or fulfillment.
• Be filled with the Holy Spirit; therefore is empowered and enabled to minister from the fullness and overflow of his/her own intimate relationship with Christ.
• Have a willingness to make a commitment of 1 to 2 hours per week for a pre- determined period of time.
• Have the wisdom and ability to keep confidential what is shared.
• Have the wisdom to seek pastoral advice if the need arises.
• Have his/her home and personal life in order.
ESSENTIALS OF DISCIPLESHIP
• The goal of discipleship is for God to be glorified and the young believer to be edified (built up).
• The power and enabling to disciple is from the Holy Spirit, not our own experience, abilities or knowledge.
• Discipleship can be effectively accomplished in either a one-to-one or a small-group setting.
• Discipleship is not for the purpose of a more mature believer taking full responsibility for the spiritual growth of another, but to help a committed young believer learn to walk with God.
If the following occurs this may indicate that the disciplee may not be truly committed or ready to make discipleship a priority.
• Not consistent in keeping the discipleship appointment.
• Does not complete their homework.
• Not taking responsibility for what God is revealing to them (asking for or giving forgiveness toward others, etc.).
• It would be wise in this case to gracefully discontinue the relationship, encouraging them to reconsider discipleship when they are ready and able to make a commitment.
• If the disciplee is unwilling to repent of sinful behavior in their life that may be exposed during discipleship (immorality, unforgiveness, marriage or family out of order, etc.) and does not begin to work out the biblically prescribed changes, direct the disciplee to the pastor or church leadership that oversees discipleship for counsel and exhortation.
• Be patient with the simple-minded believer who may struggle understanding biblical principles and may need your encouragement. Remember Paul’s relationship with the Thessalonian believers!
• Don’t be afraid to confront in love when the disciplee is in error.
• Never be condescending or appear to be spiritually superior to the disciplee.
• Don’t allow the disciplee to become dependent upon you. Remember that the goal is dependence upon the Lord.
• During the duration of the discipleship relationship take care that you do not lose focus. Don’t avoid social events and casual fellowship, but don’t feel obligated to become close friends. Close friendships may develop from discipleship, but the priority should be to complete the discipleship material and accomplish the goal of helping the disciple grow toward spiritual maturity.
• With a very talkative disciplee, the discipler must make a point to keep control of the meeting time and keeping on track.
• Discipleship is not a social engagement. People may step forward for discipleship with the wrong motive, seeking to fulfill emotional or social needs, rather than spiritual needs in their life. This is why the Disciplee Questionnaire (Why do you want to be discipled?) is so important.
• Don’t be afraid if you do not have the answer to the disciplee’s questions. It is okay and even wise to tell them you will find the answer and get back to them. (Halley’s Bible Handbook is a wonderful resource to have on hand!)
• Open and close each appointment with prayer. Keep your prayers simple so that you do not intimidate the disciplee.
• As the disciplee becomes comfortable, ask them to also pray.
• Pray for the disciplee during the week.
• If the disciplee has progressed, and you have seen spiritual growth and maturity developing, begin to encourage them to consider becoming a discipler when your discipleship commitment is finished. Remember 2 Timothy 2:2.