As you may know, I’m taking this month to share the bible study material I’ve written on biblical discipleship. It’s a series titled Invest. The first installment was simply titled Invest, the second was Invest- part 2, the third was 4 Building Blocks to Successful Discipleship- part 1- Be an Example. This post will cover the second building block to successful discipleship, which is building the relationship.
Discipleship is all about investing the transforming truth of God’s word into another person, living life with them, and helping them to grow in their faith, character, and ministry.
Women especially need this relational component. We crave connection, companionship, and compassion. In the context of Titus 2 discipleship relationships, we need to be willing to help meet those needs of other women.
Think of it in terms of a mother-daughter relationship. Would a daughter grow and thrive with a mom who only gave principles, promises, and facts? No way! She’d be starved for affection and attention. She needs quality time.
The counsel, care, prayers, and pats on the back in addition to sound doctrine from her mom are essential to her becoming a virtuous woman of God. Daughters need the encouragement and support of their mothers. Oftentimes they need their presence and prayers more than their preaching. It’s the same with spiritual mother-daughter relationships.
When building the relationship in discipleship, there are three things that are important to focus on:
- Salvation- In Matthew 7:24-29 Jesus describes the difference between wise and foolish builders. Wise builders (the obedient ones who hear and do), build upon the rock (Jesus), while the foolish (those who hear but don’t do), build upon the sand. The storms of life come at both of the houses, but only the wise one will stand.
If we look at these verses in light of discipleship relationships, unless they’re built on Jesus Christ- they will fall apart. The foundation of our relationships must be our common salvation through Jesus Christ.
Share your testimony and have your disciple share hers. If she’s not born again, be intentional about sharing the gospel with her, and showing her in the scriptures how she can be saved. Be prayerful and prepared for your time together, you never know when she’ll be ready to give her life to the Lord.
- Study 1John together- This is a great book to start studying together to begin discipleship because it’s all about eternal security. 1John 5:13-These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. There are 12 proofs of salvation in this book. It really helps to alleviate or to validate any doubts of salvation.
Without securing the foundation of salvation, your relationship with your disciple will be unstable as you will be on uneven ground. She won’t think biblically, live righteously, or learn faithfully.
- Fellowship is community and communion, sharing intimately in the word and work of the Lord. This is a vital component to the discipleship relationship. In reading through the gospels, and looking specifically at how Jesus interacted with his disciples, we can learn how to be relational like he is.
Jesus made the first move and connected with the disciples, ate with them, prayed with them, taught them God’s word, ministered with them, and prepared them for his departure. All of the Lord’s fellowship with his disciples was to train them how to relate to others and do the work of the ministry to advance the Kingdom of God when he returned to heaven.
Our partnership with our disciples in ministry is to do the same. We must spend time with them and minister to them like Jesus did, all the while training them to do the same for their disciple when we move on. We need to encourage and equip our disciples like Jesus did through biblical fellowship.
This kind of fellowship doesn’t just happen, you have to be intentional and plan it.
- Have them over for coffee, or for dinner to meet your family.
- Go shopping or to the movies.
- Have them over for a counseling and prayer session.
- Spend time teaching her the basics of how to study her bible.
- Do side studies with her.
- Take her with you as you minister to others.
- Send a bible verse or encouraging texts throughout the week, check on them, and for prayer requests.
- Keep in contact via social media or email if you have too, just make sure they know that you’re thinking of them and they matter to you!
While you fellowship with your disciple in these ways, make sure you ask questions, and get to know them. Find the common ground in physical and spiritual things, and build on that. Every woman is different and will need different things from you, so remember to be sensitive to her unique situation and schedule, and be flexible.
- Remember your source of strength, wisdom, compassion, and love, is Jesus Christ. (John 15:1-5) You can’t have true biblical fellowship with your disciple without your own personal fellowship with Christ. He fills you up with what you need to pour out to those you minister to. Abide in Christ, in the word and in prayer, seeking His presence and power to do all things for His glory. Partner with Jesus to minister to your disciple. Apart from him you can do nothing, but with him you can do all things.
We must be intentional to secure the foundation, to invest time in fellowship, and to beware of the Foe who seeks to destroy this relationship.
3. The Foe
- In John 10:10, Jesus says that “The thief cometh not, but for to steal and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Satan wants to steal the glory from God, and kill our fruit by destroying our relationships. He will use busyness, sickness, death, insecurities, and drama to distract us from intentionally investing in our disciples and to distract them from being available to meet with us.
When distractions start to pile up we have to recognize it as spiritual warfare, pray about it, and be even more purposed to engage in building the relationship. When the warfare comes that’s how we know we’re on the right track, so we can’t give up!
- He divides- Satan hates discipleship because it doesn’t just affect one person. It transforms entire families and that in turn inspires other people, and turns them to Christ. If we allow the distractions or drama to get between us, our relationship will surely fall apart, and that’s exactly what the enemy wants.
Satan will use all kinds of tactics to try to divide God honoring relationships. That’s why it’s so important to have that sober mindset. Run everything through the filter of what you know to be true-about God, the person, yourself, that relationship, your purpose, your responsibility etc!!
Ecclesiastes 10:18 says By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through. Relationships take work. They’re sometimes messy and complicated. But they can also be a great source of joy, and they’re necessary.
Let’s be intentional to invest time in building our discipleship relationships by securing the foundation of salvation, having sweet fellowship with Christ and our disciple, and being aware of our Foe’s agenda to destroy us.
~Proverbs 24:3-4~ Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: and by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.