We have been looking for the past couple of months at the theme of discipleship. Remember that our church mission statement is that we exist to make disciples of Jesus Christ. In October I proposed the idea that discipleship is risky business. Of course, it is a risk-reward situation, and the rewards far outweigh the risks, but it is risky nonetheless. Last month we explored the key feature of being a disciple, that we are becoming like Jesus. This month, I’d like to take a ‘deeper dive’ on what it means to be a disciple-maker.
The following list includes some of the characteristics of a person who is a disciple-maker.
The disciple-maker is a servant.
Jesus came to serve, not be served. Among other things, He was a foot washer, a truth-teller, a time-giver (expended His discretionary time on others rather than on Himself). So, a disciple-maker willingly gives of themselves for the benefit and building up of others, even if they have to give up personal recreational activities to do so.
The disciple-maker is growing spiritually.
The d-m’s walk with God is increasing. Their relationship with Jesus is not in the past tense, it’s a present reality that is vibrant and evident to others.
The disciple-maker is spiritually mature.
Not to be confused with sinlessly perfect. The d-m has come to the place in her/his life that they react to the unexpected with biblical wisdom and biblical faith. They have an understanding of deeper truths from the Bible. Their faith is not shaken by tough questions; indeed, they know how to find the answers to tough questions. And their life is able to withstand the storms that come because it is founded on the rock of obedience to Christ.
The disciple-maker handles the Bible accurately.
She/he is a student of the Scriptures. The Bible is a vital part of their behavior and conversation. They read it, they study it, they hide it in their hearts. They understand the difference between essentials and distinctives. And they don’t argue or quibble over non-essential doctrines.
The disciple-maker is teachable.
They are open to God’s direction and redirection, His training and His discipline. They understand that they have something to offer to every person they meet, and that God has something to teach them from every person they meet.
The disciple-maker is a faithful witness for Christ.
The Great Commission as given by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 is that we make disciples of every nation. In Acts 1:8 and Mark 16:15, Jesus told us to be His witnesses and preach the gospel to all creation. The d-m recognizes the importance of always being ready to share this good news with everyone. They also recognize the importance of serving those who respond to the gospel by nurturing their new-found faith.
This is not an exhaustive list. And, these character traits don’t line up in any particular order of priority. Every one of them is an absolute must if a person is to be effective in making disciples. Of course, also a disciple-maker is himself/herself a faithful growing disciple of Jesus. Make it your aim this month to fully cooperate with the Holy Spirit in His work of conforming you to the image of Jesus.
May your December be filled with the joy of the Lord as we celebrate His first advent and look forward to His second!
In Christ our living hope,