“You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” – 2 Timothy 2:2.
Alabama head football coach Nick Saban is considered by many the greatest college football coach ever. Whether he is or not, his accomplishments are significant. One of the things that stand out, in addition to the national championships, is the number of successful coaches that were a part of his programs. The list includes Mark Antonio, Jimbo Fisher, Lane Kiffin, Will Muschamp, Jeremy Pruitt, Kirby Smart, and Steve Sarkisian to name a few. In a very real way, his career should be judged not merely on the number of the wins and losses of the college football team he coached, but by all the men he trained and sent out to coach in his footsteps.
This is the mindset we need to adopt as Christians. Being a disciple of Christ is not just about each of us following Jesus personally, but also involves passing our commitment on to the next generations of disciples.
But that process begins by becoming a disciple ourselves. The standard definition of “disciple” is someone who adheres to the teachings of another. It is a follower or a learner. It refers to someone who takes up the ways of someone else. Applied to Jesus, a disciple is someone who learns from Him to live like Him — someone who, because of God’s awakening grace, conforms his or her words and ways to the words and ways of Jesus. Basically, discipleship is a lifelong experience of learning the mind of Christ and following the will of Christ, submitting ourselves in complete obedience to His lordship.
Making disciples is important because it is the Lord’s chosen method of spreading the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. During His public ministry, Jesus spent more than three years making disciples—teaching and training His chosen twelve. He gave them many convincing proofs that He was the Son of God, the promised Messiah. He spoke to the crowds, but often He drew the disciples aside privately to teach them the meaning of His parables and miracles. He sent them out on ministry assignments. He also taught them that soon He would be returning to His Father following His death and resurrection.
Paul told Timothy (2 Timothy 2:2) because you are a disciple, and you have heard and learned these things from me, now I want you to go and share these things with others: “entrust these to faithful men.” Paul is asking Timothy to do for others what he had done for him: “entrust” to them the doctrines and practices of the faith which he had learned from Paul. Because Timothy had been a disciple, he wanted him to now go and make disciples too.
So, how do we make disciples? In the example of Paul and Timothy, Paul was going about his mission, and came across Timothy, pulled him aside, and poured into his life. This is a model we can follow: find a person in the course of your life and ministry who is receptive to spiritual things, and spend some special time with them, investing in their life. Jesus also exemplified disciple-making, which should say a lot to us. He ministered to the crowds for sure, but He always had the 12 with Him whom He was investing special time with, and taught them things that the multitude was not ready for yet.
We should look for opportunities to do these same types of things. As you go about your life and ministry, find a person or two who are receptive to growing spiritually, and spend time with them, investing in their lives in a special way. That is discipleship.
- Who has poured the life of Christ into you? How did that person invest in your Christian life?
- What is the responsibility of one generation to share Christ with the next generation?