This is the second post in a four-part series on the topic of “Discipleship.”
Discipleship is not easy. There is no getting around the fact that discipleship is hard work. Biblically, there is no promise the discipleship process will ever be anything but hard. Rewarding, but hard.
With that in mind, the process of discipleship takes discernment. Not discernment in the sense of picking out which clothes to wear on a certain day, but prayerful, determined discernment that is guided by the Holy Spirit. Discernment in this sense can be full of anguish. It can be emotionally taxing. It can be hard. But in the end, discipleship must have this discernment.
Someone who is interested in entering into a relationship based on discipleship must show discernment from the beginning. I want to take you to the life of Jesus. Jesus is a perfect example in everything that is good and righteous, and in our case, discipleship. Jesus obviously had his 12 Disciples. He taught them, blessed them, empowered them, poured into them, lived with them, and enjoyed life with them. He also chose them. There had to have been a point in which Jesus actually chose the twelve men who would be sharing life with him over the course of his ministry. At some point, Jesus had to discern how many disciples he would have. He had to decide who those men where going to be. He had to figure out exactly who he was going to disciple and for how long. Discernment was a key part of Jesus’s discipleship of the Twelve.
In Luke 6:12-16, we see the discernment of Jesus in the process of discipleship. His ministry had already begun, and he had several followers and disciples, in a very broad sense. He hadn’t yet chosen the core group that would eventually begin the movement of the gospel. Before Jesus could chose the men he would disciple, he spent a night in prayer. This was not just a prayer that Jesus said before he closed his eyes to sleep, or a prayer first thing in the morning; this was an entire night devoted to communication with God the Father discerning who Jesus would chose as his disciples. Jesus knew these men had to be committed to discipleship, and had informed them of the cost of discipleship. He had to discern which men to chose. I’m sure it was not an easy decision. Any decision that requires a night full of and completely devoted to prayer is not an easy one to make.
You see, discipleship is not a game show. You can’t just choose whoever stands behind “door 3” and start discipling. The process takes much prayer and devotion to discernment. The purpose of discipleship is to see growth in both parties. Both the person who is discipling and the person being discipled need to grow spiritually through this relationship.
When entering into a discipleship relationship, or a “mentor-mentee” relationship, be careful. Choose wisely. You don’t want to waste your time attempting to counsel, disciple, or mentor someone who isn’t willing to be counseled, discipled, or mentored. You will quickly become frustrated with the situation. Instead, seek guidance from the Holy Spirit. Pray over the person whom you should be discipling. Trust in the Lord’s choice for you, and your discipling relationship will be blessed. Don’t rush the discernment area of the discipleship process. The last thing people need is to be “discipled” by someone who isn’t really willing or wanting to disciple them, and vice versa.
Take your time, pray, and make the right choice. Jesus did that with the disciples. Paul did that with Timothy. It works. Do not miss out on this very important part of discipleship.