Discipleship. What exactly is this? An appointment between two people? A time where two study scripture? Is it a relationship where two pray for one another? The fact is that it is all of the above and so much more.
I have come a long way in my walk with God since that fateful summer in 2006. The first two years were some of the most difficult times in my growth. My first two discipleship relationships had left me hurt and wounded, and unsure if this was something I wanted to enter into again.
Discipleship seemed hopeless and helpless to me, and from that point on I decided that it was me and Jesus and that was all I needed. Funny, my plan though understandable, was not my Father’s plan. He had greater things in mind for me.
A friend who I had met in my first semester of college in the summer of 2007 invited me to her small group. It was when I joined this small group that I met Chris, who God used to redeem and show me what the true meaning of discipleship is.
In those times, I was scarred, thinking all of it – discipleship, community, church, were mainly appointments, transactions and schedules. It seemed cold, clinical and devoid of God’s warmth, love, and grace. What then? What was the point? The point, as I learned, is that apart from the fact that I have an amazing best friend in Chris, is this: Discipleship, summarized, is the pouring into of another, with unconditional and extravagant love in order to enhance the relationship between the disciple and God.
The discipleship relationship that formed between me and Chris was never, official, per se. God in His knowledge kept me (and him for that matter) unaware of the role we would play in each other’s lives. He did so with great reason, I was traumatized and hurt, and Chris still was not aware of the impact he had on men around him.
Discipleship is organic, its deep, its personal, loving, close, sacrificial, humbling, and ultimately necessary. The body of Christ, especially in the states I feel, has missed the mark in this arena. I rarely see people who are being discipled at all.
Imagine, what it would be like, if those younger in Christ, where given friends, disciplers, to give them a tangible example of how to walk in His footsteps. Imagine if everyone had that friend, who adhered closer than a brother or sister. Imagine if we all knew the joy that comes from being truly connected to a loving spiritual family.
Consistently Chris has given me advice, prayed for me, studied scripture with me, encouraged me in my identity in Christ, helped me through so many struggles, and has been a great outlet for fun too. That being said discipleship is not and never should it be simply about the discipler pouring into the other. No, its far more than that.
In a conversation I had with a friend, Beau, he spoke to me about his then disciple Zach. He noted that Zach would tell him how much of a blessing Beau was to him. Beau then told me that he at times felt like he was the one who was with the greater blessing.
When a true, deep, loving, agape filled discipleship relationship is established, a cycle begins to form. The discipler gets to not only see their disciple grow and mature, but also sees him/her begin pouring into others. I myself went from being merely discipled by Chris to also building into others.
Now as I pour into one of my roommates, and begin to pour into another, I find myself feeling blessed, humbled, and perplexed by what God has done in my life through His gift of discipleship. God through my discipleship with Chris, led to greater intimacy with God, a friendship that has changed me forever, knowledge of the Campus House of Prayer, an internship experience with Campus Renewal Ministries, support to carry out my calling, and more than can be expressed in words.
So then what? Must a discipleship relationship be exactly like the one between me and Chris? The answer, simply put is, no. God is an intimate Creator. He is a Father who knows His children better than anyone ever will. As such every disciple and discipler will look different and the dynamics will be different but what will be the same is what God’s work in that relationship accomplishes—a work that is life changing.