The Christian life is one of continual growth, not just in gaining knowledge from book learning but growth in practicing and applying Biblical principles to real life experiences. The writer of Hebrews makes it clear that maturity involves practicing what you learn.
Hebrews 5:11–14 (ESV) — 11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
A true disciple’s growth or maturity is a never-ending process. Even the Apostle Paul was not content where he was in life, but made it his goal to press forward.
Philippians 3:12–14 (ESV) — 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
In our “individualistic” approach to Christianity, we have lost sight of the fact that other Christians may have a desire to grow and mature but feel much like the Ethiopian:
Acts 8:30–31 (ESV) — 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
We all need to disciple or mentor, and we all need to be discipled or mentored in the faith. As one old preacher used to say, “we all need a Timothy and a Paul.”
2 Timothy 2:1–2 (ESV) — 1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Discipling another individual is not rocket science, especially if you have been disicipled. It’s simply a matter of applying those things you have been taught, things you have seen, and things you have heard from others and building into the life of another individual. Wait a minute! Isn’t this what Jesus taught in the great commission?
Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV) — 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus commands us to make disciples. Too many people have been led to Christ and left to grow on their own and too many times they have fallen by the way because they were not discipled. Obviously, the local church provides a means of shepherding and accountability but within that church body, what would happen if every member personally discipled another? Wow! You can’t help another grow spiritually without growing yourself which is exactly why Paul laid out the principle of discipling others who will disciple others.
So, who are you discipling? The logical order of events would be your leading someone to Christ or inviting them to the preaching of the Gospel, then instead of leaving them to grow on their own, guide them, help them, show them, and hold them accountable. The system works when one is discipled and then disciples another. This Biblical principle has been even proven in the world via the “AA program” as well as every successful network marketing model.
Consider the admonition to Jesus stating the reason for choosing was to bring forth fruit and that fruit not exclusively the fruit of another disciple but in keeping with the mandate to be “fruitful” it would only make sense that the way to be fruitful in the kingdom is to bring forth the fruit of another mature disciple who would in turn disciple another person.
John 15:16 (ESV) — 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
Genesis 1:27–28 (ESV) — 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
So, who are you mentoring or discipling? It’s a life fulfilling principle but it’s also a command. May you begin today by making yourself available to God and asking Him to lead you to someone to mentor / disciple.