The mission of the church is to make disciples; and to make disciples, one must be a disciple. (pg. 87 emphasis added)
(Quote taken from Note to Self by Joe Thorn ©2011 by Crossway. Get it here.)
In order to make a disciple, one must be a disciple. It's impossible to make something without having some experience with it yourself. Even if we have an understanding of the parts involved, we have an understanding of how they go together in order for them to work right. This means certain things must be true of the person who wishes to disciple someone else. What must be true of a disciple wishing to disciple another?
Disciples must be GROWING
As a disciple, I have to be growing in grace and faith myself if I have any hope of helping someone else grow. Why? Because, without going deeper myself, I have nothing to give. I have to know it for myself in order to be able to share it effectively.
I need to be growing in my understanding of both grace and sin. I need to be growing in grace in order to show the person I'm discipling how deep the grace of God is. I need to be growing in my understanding of and battling of indwelling sin in order to show the person of the depth of their sin.
But in order for this to be a reality, we have to be willing to take the next step.
Disciples must be VULNERABLE
Not only must we be growing, but we must also be willing to be vulnerable. Without it, we run the risk of making the person we wish to disciple a project (which I dealt with in a previous post.) In order to avoid this mistake, we must be vulnerable.
This is done by showing weakness. Part of discipleship is helping others avoid the mistakes we've made. In doing so, we also show the strength of the Lord that is available to those who are looking for deeper holiness.
Also, as disciples, our vulnerability will remind us of our need for the ministry of the Holy Spirit; without which, we would stop growing ourselves. As disciples we still need to be teachable, even by those we are discipling. We have as much to learn as we have to teach.
But what else has to be true of us as we disciple?
Disciples must be willing to SERVE
Part of the command to make disciples means that those who do it are willing to serve. It's not a short term type of service either. Our service is done through building relationships and being "able to teach" (1 Tim. 3:2, 2 Tim. 2:2, 2 Tim 2.24). In this way, our teaching is an act of service.
Our service is not only in reply to the command to make disciples but also to show brotherly love for one another (Rom. 8:12, 1 Thes. 4:9, Heb. 13:1, 1 Peter 1:22, 3:8, 2 Peter 1:7). This is doing what Jesus did, which the apostle John further corroborates (1 John 3:11, 3:23, 4:7, 4:12).
This is, at least part, of what it means to disciple. So, this is what we (and by we I mean all true believers) are called to. How are you doing? Are you growing? Are you willing to be vulnerable? Are you willing to serve?
In the next post of this series, I'll tackle what needs to be true of the person being discipled.