March 7, 2012—it was the beginning highlight for what would become the delight of my year.
That evening, I had the joy to begin leading a young Christian through our church’s formal discipleship program.
What is discipleship?
- It is a front row seat in seeing God’s Spirit bring growth.
- It is a fresh reminder of the depth and grace of God’s love.
- It is spiritual energy as you observe a tender heart for God and growth in His grace.
- It is the incredible opportunity to work with God’s Spirit in pressing the button to watch a miracle of His grace unfold in a life.
- It is the perfect vantage point from which to watch God’s Word change a life…at the deepest levels of the heart.
- It is an indescribable joy to participate with God in His work.
- It is…my favorite event of the week!
In case you can’t tell, I love, love discipleship! There is nothing like the energy of a growing Christian with a tender heart to reinvigorate your own walk with the Lord. Something about watching baby steps while giving everything within you to encourage those steps into a walk brings one of the deepest joys I know.
Life’s Vital Priorities
The greatest need in a young Christian’s life is spiritual growth. Without growth, she will wither and fade.
This means, the greatest priority in the mature Christian’s life is the spiritual nurturing of young Christians. There is nothing quite like getting to lead a soul to Christ. But it doesn’t end there! As Amy Carmichael said, “Converts are a responsible joy.” With the new birth of a convert, our work has only begun!
The young lady who I am currently leading through discipleship is actually not a new convert. She was an orphaned convert. Saved some years ago, she never had someone come alongside her to teach, guide, pray for, and encourage. And yet, her heart was so open, so receptive, so hungry for spiritual nurturing.
Like you, I have many responsibilities—personal, relational, family, work, and a hundred more. But there is no priority in my life—except my own walk with God—that should supersede this necessary investment in young lives.
Paul demonstrated his priority on discipleship and his willingness to expend himself to that end throughout his epistles.
And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you…—2 Corinthians 12:15
But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.—1 Thessalonians 2:7–8, 11–12
My Favorite Tool
Through the years, I have used several different tools and methods in discipling new believers. But I have never found one that I liked nearly as much as the Daily in the Word book which our church uses.
To begin with, the book is not meant to be completed in four or five sessions. That alone is a plus, because it allows the discipler and the disciple to develop a relationship through the course of months. As a discipler, I relish the opportunity to invest in a young Christian throughout her early stages of growth. A seven-lesson pamphlet may give scriptural basis for the tenents of the faith; but it does not allow for developing the relationship that grounds a new believer in truth.
In fact, grounding is another reason I love the Daily in the Word program. Each of the ten lessons (and each lesson takes well over a week—usually at least three weeks) includes many Scripture references. It is designed for the discipling pair to look up each verse in the Bible together. This method helps the disciple find her way around Scripture, and it assures her that what we believe really does come from the pages of God’s Word.
As you might guess from the title, the thrust of Daily in the Word is to help young Christians establish a vibrant relationship with the Lord that includes the spiritual discipline of daily Bible study. Nobody develops that habit in a one or two-session meeting. It takes months. And I am delighted for the opportunity to be part of the process.
A Beneficial Exchange
It never ceases to amaze me that God gives us everything we need to do His work…and then He blesses us for what He does through us.
I leave almost every discipleship session exhausted and fully expended, yet saying to myself, “This is living!” Truly, there is no greater joy than serving the Lord by investing in others who continue in the truth.
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4). But they never walk if no one teaches them to take the first steps!