What is Discipleship?
What is a disciple? In The Message, Eugene Peterson translates Luke 14:25-27, “One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s self! —can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.” The disciple’s love for Jesus must surpass every other love, including love for self. There can be no “Mom first!” or “Junior first!” or “Me first!” Disciples have only one Master, and His directives take priority over all others. I am a father, husband, grandfather, brother, uncle, great-uncle, friend, neighbor, citizen, teacher, coach, blogger, Bible teacher, pastor, and DISCIPLE.
Following Jesus means denying our right to make independent decisions without consulting anyone. We're not free to do what we want when we want. Our plans are tentative. Jesus' values and priorities supersede ours. His hands turn the steering wheels of our lives. Jesus demands extreme personal sacrifice because we can’t imitate His ways without giving up our own. My father taught others how to work on aircraft engines for a time. After being instructed, one man who had previously worked on auto engines said, “That’s not how I do it.” My father’s response was, “Not here.”
Jesus demonstrated extreme personal sacrifice. He isn’t asking us to do what He hasn’t already done. He is the mold; we are the clay. The goal is to take on His “shape.” When I was pastor, one of the children told his mother that he didn’t see the Lord that day and was referring to me! No one else has ever confused me with Jesus, but it would be great if that happened more often to all of us, wouldn’t it?
Our obedient sacrifices measure our love for Jesus (John 14:21). Following Him means doing what He says. Galatians 5:6 says that the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Christian disciples follow and imitate Jesus and express their faith through loving words and actions. Love has a four-fold focus – God, neighbor (Matt. 22:37-39); other believers (John 13:34-35), and enemies (Matt 5:44). Love requires extreme personal sacrifice.
My bathroom sink was backing up, and hair and gunk obstructed the pipes and blocked the water flow. An internet search revealed many suggestions for clearing the clog, but I didn’t do the search until AFTER I used harsh chemicals. Those chemicals are not as environmentally friendly as other methods, but they illustrate a point. Self in the driver's seat obstructs the flow of God’s love through us to others. God’s ways for removing self can be harsh and painful at the moment, but they prepare us for ministry to others as nothing else could.
Believing in Jesus means following Him. That's hard because we like the familiar. The older we get, the more our habits control us. Some enrich us, while others entrap us like a fly struggling in a spider web. Nothing benefits us more than developing habits that bring balance to our lives and nurture our Christian growth.
These free Christian discipleship resources are designed to help you walk with God. We need a spiritual development path, and I didn't have one when I was young, let alone free Christian discipleship resources. I am motivated to provide free Christian discipleship resources for you.
Follow-up for New Believers explains how to help new believers grow in their faith. It includes helping them have the assurance of salvation. It encourages them to spend daily time with God and become a regular part of a local church. It describes Jesus Christ as their new leader and the importance of obeying Him. He gives Bible-reading pointers and prayer pointers as well. It reviews the critical area of forgiveness.
Too often, new believers receive little guidance after they embrace Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Consequently, many believers never get beyond first base in their spiritual development. 31 Steps Toward Spiritual Maturity explores 31 core topics for believers to master to become more like Jesus.
My book, His Power for Your Weakness, is a devotional-discipleship resource that five pastors used to disciple 896 people in Malawi and Mozambique in 2022. These 260 devotionals communicate what I have learned in 54 years of following Jesus. See the Book for reviews.
Spiritual Health Checkup is an 18-statement survey to measure your spiritual health. It focuses on Christian practices, not biblical knowledge, and it will help you identify weak areas you can strengthen. If you want, you can compare your responses with others who have done the checkup. The checkup will help you see what areas of your Christian practice are strong and which need work.