We, as believers, are called to "make disciples" (Matt. 28:19). We make disciples as disciples - meaning, we should always be being discipled as well as discipling someone else. But how do we know when the person we have been discipling is ready to start discipling? It all comes down to the heart of the person. Here are 3 desires that should be shaping the heart of anyone desiring to disciple.
A Heart for the Gospel
... rightly handle the Word of truth ... 2 Tim 2:15
When you see someone you are discipling able to apply the gospel to their own lives and the lives of others, it may be time to give them the opportunity to lead others in discipleship. When you see them demonstrating the ability to ask the question, "What am I (or they) not believing about the gospel in this situation?" It's important that this potential discipler can apply what they are reading in the Word to himself and others. It's critical that they handle God's Word well and rightly, not as crutch or a proof-text.
The reason a person who desires to disciple needs a proper grasp on the gospel is that they need to see and understand how the gospel applies to every situation that life brings. They need to be able to do this for themselves well before they will be able to do this for others. This takes a certain level of maturity.
A Servant's Heart
... not quarrelsome, but kind, able to teach, patiently endures evil, corrects with gentleness. 2 Tim 2:24
The heart of a servant is another important quality of a person who wishes to disciple. They should not be quarrelsome in the sense that they are always right and need to win the discussion, but kind. They should be growing in their ability to walk with someone and teach them truth. They need to be patient, especially when the person they are discipling doesn't see the danger of their own sin. It's in those cases (along with others) that gentle correction is required and will ultimately bear fruit.
A servant's heart is a requirement for a person wishing to disciple because the heart of a servant protects from pride. For a servant, it's not about building themselves up or building a platform, but building the kingdom of God. A servant isn't interesting in making a name for himself, but exalting God's name.
A Heart of Repentance
... godly grief leading to repentance. 2 Cor. 7:10
As I look at the previous two categories, I cringe a little at my own shortcomings. I'm never going to live up to that perfectly. My own sin will get in the way. Luckily, I'm not called to. What God does expect is faithfulness, not perfection. This fact is what makes the final category all the more essential (and gives me confidence). If the person who is wishing to disciple others doesn't know their own sin and isn't actively (and daily) repenting of sin, their own ego and pride will ruin their discipling relationship.
Someone who desires to disciple others must not only be willing to share their sin, but walk with others through theirs, demonstrating what true godly sorrow and repentance looks like. People learn best when they have a good example. As we walk with others we allow them to see what we do and give them the opportunity to catch it for themselves.
It's as you see someone putting into practice these qualities that you realize they may be ready to lead someone else down the discipleship road. Be willing to let that person do it, for their growth, for your good (as you seek someone else to disciple), and most importantly, for the glory of God.