In part 1 of this blog about discipleship, I shared how I believe that “every Follower of Christ CAN and SHOULD be in a discipleship relationship with someone else, from teens on up”.
Recently I was part of a conference for student leaders called the Equip Student Leadership Summit, and at this conference I taught a seminar called Students Discipling Students. In this seminar I shared with all of the students what I said above, everyone who claims to be a follower of Christ can and should be in a discipleship relationship, including you. I said that God never makes a distinction of age when he tells us to “go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). In fact, when we read 1 Timothy 4:12 we see that young people can be an example to other believers. So teens can disciple others same as adults.
In that seminar I shared 3 Basic Keys to Discipleship that we need to follow in order to be in and have discipleship relationships with others, both in formal and informal ways. These 3 keys that I shared are not just true for students, but for all Followers of Christ.
1. Don’t be so busy or distracted that you can’t take opportunities to have a conversation
First thing we have to understand is that we have to be willing to talk to people if we are ever going to get to the point where we can reach the level of a discipleship relationship. This is a very logical and obvious point at first glance…of course we have to talk to people if we are going to be able to have a relationship with them that can include discipleship…but it is often overlooked.
What I’m talking about here is not a relationship via text or social media, but a face to face relationship where you and someone else have conversations with each other. The hard part is that in today’s world we are extremely busy, so we are constantly distracted and moving from one thing to the next. It is very easy to walk right past people and not even notice them when we are on our way to do something. We have to learn to slow down and be available for conversations to happen.
We are also a very shallow-connected world, and that leads to the second key…
2. Don’t keep relationships shallow…have deep and authentic relationships with others
Social Media makes it easy to stay in contact a midst our busyness, but to get to the point of a discipleship relationship, we have to move beyond that. We have to be willing to give our time and focus to our relationships so we can take those relationships beyond the basic, small-talk, texting level and into a deeper more authentic level.
This means we have to be willing to do things like put the phone down and listen to the person talking, adjust our schedule so we have some free time and aren’t so busy that we can never stop to talk, or even intentionally schedule times into our day where we can stop everything else and talk with people.
This step also means that we have to be willing to be authentic in our relationships if we want others to be. If we want someone to trust us enough to share beyond just the casual things of their life, we have to be willing to first share the deeper things in our life with them first. Be honest with people about your life…struggles, victories, questions, etc. When you are, often they will in turn be honest with you as well.
When you are able to get to that point of a relationship, you can then get to the third key…
3. Look for opportunities to have spiritual and meaningful conversations, formal and informal
This third key actually will come naturally when you have followed the first two keys, because when you are intentionally being available for conversations and are seeking to allow your relationships to be deep and authentic, what you end up talking about in those relationships will be the things that are most important to you. As Followers of Christ, God should be a natural part of our conversations because striving to live for him should be what is most important to us.
These opportunities can be both formal and informal.
Informal opportunities like this just come when you and a friend are talking, and you share what you are struggling with or what you are praising God for, and they do the same. Or, in your conversation you talk about what you’ve been reading and learning in scripture with each other. You are being intentional in what you talk about…because it is easy to just stay shallow and only talk sports…but it’s done in an informal setting.
Formal opportunities would be if you schedule a meeting with someone to specifically talk about scripture, what it means to follow God, what you are struggling with, etc.
Both of these opportunities are discipleship. Discipleship is happening in both of these settings.
Ok, so I’ve shared the 3 keys to having a discipleship relationship. Now what? How can we all apply this truth in our own lives, and what would it look like? I’ll share that in part 3 of this blog.