DISCIPLESHIP QUALITIES

In the coming months here at Southern Hills we are going to be placing a heavy emphasis on discipleship. Our leadership is really desiring and praying that our people will begin to participate in the discipleship process. For some, maybe you never have been discipled. Maybe you have been discipled but that process stopped with you and you’ve never poured your life into someone else’s. Either way, the church is going to encourage you to participate. Because this emphasis is quickly approaching, I want to deviate from our study in the book of Psalms and look at this idea of discipleship, and especially at seven essential qualities that every disciple maker should have.

Matthew 28:19-20 is our text. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

So what does this command to make disciples mean? What is a disciple?

First, discipleship means intentionally partnering with another Christian in order to help that person obey Jesus and grow in their relationship with him – so that he or she can then help others to do the same. Discipleship is a cyclical process. You invest in someone so that they might then invest in someone else. As long as we are breathing on this Earth, there will never come a time when we can take a break and rest and say that discipleship is complete. It is never complete. It is always ongoing. Jesus sets this example for us. He taught his disciples to follow Him and to obey His commands – so that they could then lead others to do the same after his departure. Paul continues this same Pattern with Timothy. In his second letter to Timothy he says, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

Second, the command to make disciples is a personal call. Every person who places their faith, hope, and trust in Jesus is commanded to make disciples. It is not optional. You either are obedient to Jesus’ command. Or you are disobedient. There is no in between. There is no exception. The people of God are very clearly commanded to make disciples.

One more thing about discipleship before we look at those seven qualities and it’s simple. A.W. Tozer said, “Only a disciple can make a disciple.” You can’t be about the task of making disciples if you are not yourself a disciple.

{{Disclaimer: here’s where the plagiarism begins. As I explained yesterday, these seven qualities were shared in a breakout class that I attended at Glorieta. Tim Lafleur is the man who initially composed this list.}}

7 Essential Qualities of a Disciple Maker

  1. You must have a heart for God.
    What does this mean, to have a heart for God? It means this: “loving God more than anything or anyone else.” That’s the simplified version of what it means to have a heart for God. You love Him more than anything or anyone else. In Matthew 22 Jesus said this was the first and the greatest commandment, that you“love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Disciple makers must have a heart for God.
  2. You’ve got to love the people that you are investing in.
    Jesus says the first and greatest commandment is to love God supremely. The second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”In John 13:34 Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Discipleship is indeed a command but it is not merely a project that Jesus has called us to complete. We are called to love people. John Maxwell says,“People don’t care about how much you know until they know about how much you care.”Disciple makers must love the people they are investing in.
  3. You must live a Godly life.
    A disciple maker should model godly behavior. The way that you live your life should be consistent with what you claim to believe. Colossians 1:10 calls us to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fulling pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”Why is this so important? Because only sometimes will people listen to what you say. They will almost always be watching you. Do you live in a manner worthy of your calling? Do you live like someone who knows, loves, and follows Jesus? Do you model Godly behavior that is noticeable to those around you? Here’s the convicting part about this quality for me personally. In my every day life, I don’t find it all that difficult to refrain from things that we typically think of as being sinful. I don’t consume alcohol. I’m not tempted to consume it. I don’t smoke weed. I don’t curse when I stump my toe or when someone cuts me off in traffic – although sometimes I am tempted in this area. I’m not shacking up with a different girl every weekend…I’m not shacking up with any girl for that matter! Hopefully you follow what I’m saying. For the most part, I refrain from those “noticeable” sins. Here’s where I stumble: in the way that I respond to people. Sometimes people make me mad and I’m rude to them. Sometimes people keep asking me dumb questions and I’m a jerk in the way that I respond to them. A good deal of my responses are not godly. They are instead a reflection of my flesh. How about your reactions? How do you respond to those who annoy you the most? Sometimes your talk talks and sometimes your talk walks, but your walk will always talk. A disciple maker must live and model Godly behavior.
  4. Be a friend.
    This one could be included in the second quality to love people. Remember, people are not projects. In addition to growing closer to Jesus, friendship will be one of the greatest byproducts of discipleship. If you really love the people that you are investing in, you will inevitably grow as friends. Friendship and discipleship go hand in hand. Someone described disciple making as “friendship with a vision.” A disciple maker must be a friend.
  5. Pray for those you are investing in.
    M. Bounds said, “You can’t rightly talk to men about God, until you first talk to God about men.”This causes you to acknowledge your dependence on God. You are recognizing that you cannot do this whole discipleship thing on your own. You are pleading with God to shape and mold and form this person into His image. This is the greatest thing that you can do for the person you are discipling. In John 17 we see Jesus doing this for the men He was discipling. This quality is also evident in Paul’s life. In nearly every letter that he writes, he prays for the people. A disciple maker must pray for his disciples.
  6. Be patient.
    Don’t look at people for just who they are when you meet them. See them for who they could become. Spiritual growth takes time. The example given in the breakout was this: it takes 100 years for God to make an oak. It takes six months for Him to make a squash. Which do you want to become? Which do you want others to become? In his letter to the people at Thessalonica, Paul instructs the readers to be patient with everyone. Discipleship will take time. Our own lives are proof of this. We didn’t become the Christians we are today overnight. It was a process and for many of us it was a lengthy process. In fact, that process is still ongoing with each and everyone of us. When I started working in the bakery, I hated training new people. I thought I should only have to explain something one time and the person should just understand it. I hated it when they would ask me how to do something that I had already shown them how to do. I wanted them to learn instantly. I’m so thankful that this is not how discipleship works. Arnold Glaso was an American author and he said this, “The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not be smashing it.” A disciple maker must be patient.
  7. Be a life-long learner.
    This was the other quality that was especially convicting for me. You guys know that I don’t like school all that much. I’d rather just be done with it all. I don’t like reading books. I get no pleasure from that kind of stuff. But, If I’m going to be a true disciple maker, I need to be a life-long learner. If you are going to be a disciple maker, you’ll always need to be searching for those little nuggets that you can share with others. The process of discipleship is never complete. You can never follow Christ too closely or know Him too much. You can never know too much of His word. You can never memorize enough scripture. A disciple maker will be a life-long learner.

I hope that my life will be marked by these seven qualities.

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