Want To Make Disciples? Consider First How To Be Discipled

He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

Psalm 25:9

When Christians think of the Great Commission, hopefully the phrase “make disciples” comes to mind. (Matt 28:19-20) We obey the Great Commission when we make disciples – baptizing people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that Jesus has commanded us. 

But we won’t “make disciples” without first being discipled to follow Jesus ourselves. This is why Jesus invested his life so heavily into the twelve. “And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach.” (Mark 3:14). 

Therefore, being discipled yourself is critical to you making disciples. 

So how can we prepare our hearts to be discipled in order to help us become more faithful disciple-makers? 

G.R.O.W To Make Disciples

At ATLAS, we generally use the term “mentoring” interchangeably with “discipling.” While we’ve largely done one-to-one mentoring through ATLAS, we’re also doing some mentoring through small groups. Our focus at ATLAS is on spiritual mentoring that helps launch people onto a lifelong journey of growing into maturity in Jesus Christ. 

Whether it’s through a one-to-one mentoring relationship, through a small group, or through your regular engagement in your local church, consider the acronym GROW to prepare your heart to be discipled so you in turn can make disciples. 

G – Goal

Why do you want to be mentored? What’s your goal? Wrestle with this question as you’re being discipled. 

While you may have many motivations and reasons for wanting to be mentored, keep in mind the central goal of being discipled is always Jesus. Knowing him. Loving him. Obeying him. Growing to become more like him. And then sharing him with others.

This goal should guide you. If your mentoring relationship or small group isn’t helping you get closer to Jesus, find one that does.

R – Remember

The Apostle Peter’s discipleship strategy could likely be summarized in one word – remember.

Before his death, Peter made it his life’s mission to firmly root believers in the truth of the gospel by reminding them repeatedly of it so that they would be able to recall it through any life circumstance. 

After calling his readers to grow in faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, and love, He wrote in 2 Peter 1:12-15, “Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.” 

Jesus taught his followers that life would inevitably punch them in the face. Those who follow Jesus are to expect persecution, suffering, and trials. God refines and shapes us into the image of Jesus through these hardships. 

It’s in those hard moments most of all that we need to remember the past, present, and future reality of the gospel. 

This is why remembering what we learn is so critical to being discipled. Be open to memorizing Scripture, so that when trials arrive you’ll have God’s very words to you easily accessible in your mind. 

O – Obey

As we set our hearts to remember what we learn, we also need to set our hearts to obey what we learn. 

Mentoring is not just about learning new information. Will you learn something new through a mentoring relationship or small group? I certainly hope so. But if all you come away with from your time being mentored is more knowledge or content, then that relationship has fallen short of the goal of Christlikeness I talked about above. 

Jesus taught in Luke 6, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:46-49)

Will you always obey perfectly? No. If you could, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to die for you. Will you mess up repeatedly? Absolutely. That’s why Jesus needed to come. He lived the perfect, obedient life we never could. But when we in faith believe in Christ, God graciously gives us perfect credit for what Christ accomplished on our behalf. 

We are freed from an obedience that attempts to earn God’s favor and instead empowered to obey because God’s favor is already upon us through our union with Jesus. 

Therefore, based on what you learn of Jesus with your mentor, ask yourself what you can start, stop, or change in your life. A good mentoring relationship, either one-on-one or in a small group, will provide encouragement, accountability, and grace as you seek to obey what you learn.

W – Willing To Learn

Honestly, people who know everything (or at least think they do) aren’t that enjoyable to be around, let alone mentor. 

If you already know everything, why do you need a mentor? Is it just to have one more person to convince that you do in fact already know everything? 

From my experience, a willingness to learn – having a humble, teachable spirit – is the single greatest indicator of a mentee who will become an effective, lasting mentor. 

Consider the example of Apollos. 

Luke tells us in Acts 18 that Apollos was an “eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he only knew the baptism of John.” He also spoke boldly about Jesus in the synagogue in Ephesus. (Acts 18:24-26a)

By the time Priscilla and Aquila heard him speak, Apollos already had a lot of know knowledge and great ability as a public witness to Jesus Christ. 

Yet he still had something to learn. 

Acts 18:26 says, “but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” They took him aside and mentored him, although he was already a tremendously knowledgeable and effective speaker.

Apollos’ willingness to learn – his humbleness and teachability – led to him bearing even more kingdom fruit. He moves on to minister in Achaia, where it says he “greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.” (Acts 18:27-28)

As Psalm 25:9 says, “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.” So be humble and hungry to learn. The Spirit uses humble, hungry hearts. 

Prepare Yourself In Order To Prepare Others

What you learn of Jesus is meant to change you and then be passed on to others. So in order to make disciples, consider how to first be discipled.

  1. Goal – Know why you’re learning. 
  2. Remember what you learn. 
  3. Obey what you learn. 
  4. Willing to learn. 

So set your heart to GROW so you can be prepared to help others prepare for their own lifelong journey of following Jesus.

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