Discipleship. A disciple is defined as someone who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another. When used as a verb, todisciple means to teach or to train. Discipleship is a core area of the Christian faith, and should be a primary focus of a believer’s life.
This is the first blog in a series focused on discipleship. I hope this series will show you what it takes to disciple someone, and to be discipled by someone, and encourage you to enter into an active, discipling relationship with someone.
Discipleship begins with a willingness to either be discipled or to disciple. We must be willing to take part in discipleship for it to be effective in our life. We must want to be discipled. A person cannot bediscipled if they are not willing to be taught or challenged. Discipleship cannot be forced upon someone. It is a two-way street, with both parties walking patiently together on the path of sanctification.
In the lives of Paul and Timothy, a discipleship relationship had been formed. Both Paul and Timothy were willing to work together in discipleship, so that both parties might benefit from the relationship. I believe that if Timothy would not have been willing to listen to the words of Paul and apply them to his life, the relationship between them would have failed. But it didn’t. Timothy, as a young pastor, and a man who was weak and trembling often, was willing to let Paul, the veteran pastor and missionary speak truth into his life and become a mentor. The Holy Spirit can work through other people who teach us and mold us spiritually.
It truly is a blessing to have the letters written by Paul to Timothy. In 2015, we can see just how important discipleship was in the early church. Young Timothy needed a mentor and Paul was willing to continue a correspondence through letters with him. An important factor in the discipleship of Timothy from Paul was dedication. Both parties were dedicated to spiritual growth. Paul, even as death was at his doorstep in a prison cell in Rome, was willing to take the time and write a second recorded letter to Timothy. Paul was dedicated to the spiritual growth of Timothy. He viewed Timothy’s growth as part of his ministry and mission. As a missionary, pastor, church planter, and evangelist, Paul was dedicated to the spiritual growth of young pastors.
Paul was not the only dedicated one in this relationship, though. Timothy must’ve been quite dedicated, as well. To have received Paul’s letters and advice would have been one thing, but Timothy had to apply those truths to his life. They weren’t easy, either. Timothy had to work hard at becoming who Paul expected him to be. Timothy had to work hard at being the disciple God was calling him to be. He was fearful, trembling, and weak, but Paul assured him that God had given him a spirit of power, love, and self-control, greater even than his fear (2 Tim. 1:7). Paul encouraged Timothy to do the work of an evangelist, and live out his calling while preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 4:5). The young pastor had to work hard at these items pointed out by Paul, but he knew the hard work was worth it for the sake of the gospel.
My challenge to you is to read 2 Timothy. The entire book. It’ll take you about 20 minutes, but pay attention to the instructions given by Paul to Timothy. He wrote out specific things that Timothy could be working on. He was invested in the life of Timothy and dedicated to seeing growth. Timothy, we can imagine, applied these words to his life and grew spiritually. You can apply these words to your life, and you can also benefit from having a mentor, a Paul, if you will. Listen to that mentor, apply their words. Be willing to be a mentor if you must. Pray for a discipling opportunity to come in your own life, and then, be dedicated to discipleship.