When I assess my life since coming to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I see a pattern of finding myself most in love with God's Word and most delighted in His kingdom work when ignited and spurred on by discipling relationships. There is a profound joy and privilege found in discipling relationships, which is likely why so many of us desire to seek them out. Discipling relationships are life-on-life relationships with faithful intent to point another to the likeness of Christ. The Christian life comes with many questions. Those questions change through varying seasons of our lives, and we need help along the way from those who have walked before us and who graciously and truthfully point us to Christ.
Many looking for discipling relationships may wonder, how do I seek out discipling relationships? There may be confusion about who to ask, how to ask, or even what to ask! Likewise, we may be confused about what it should look like or what expectations we should have about it. There are a few things to consider, but it is important to remember that we are commanded in Scripture to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). This begins at salvation and continues well into the life of a believer. Truthfully, there are many places we can seek to find discipleship, but ongoing discipleship best happens in the context of the local church.
When considering meeting up with someone in our local church, we must begin by asking, "is this person faithful?" Referencing Titus 2:1-7 is a great foundation for understanding what faithfulness looks like. Is she a member of your local church? Does she serve faithfully in her season of life? Does she show up when she says she will? Does she encourage others? Does she love God's Word? You should be able to identify many faithful men and women in your church. If you're having trouble discerning, connect with your elders and pastors to recommend faithful men and women among the congregation who you can reach out to.
Among the many who are faithful, who is it easy to connect with? You may find yourself naturally connecting with or serving alongside others who are spiritually pouring into you and investing time in you. It can certainly happen organically, but it doesn't always happen that way. This may take more intentionality and effort. You can invite someone out to coffee and get to know them. Are you encouraged by your conversation with that person? Do you desire to learn from him or her? Is it easy to share your life? Is it easy to have spiritual conversations? These are all great and clarifying ways to consider pursuing a discipling relationship with someone.
We may try to overcomplicate it, overthink it, or wait around to be sought out. But no need to formulate a paragraph text or come up with a prom-esque discipleship proposal. Just ask! More likely than not, when we initiate with others, they are encouraged by our pursuit. It is deeply rewarding and humbling to be asked by someone to meet regularly to talk about God's Word or pray or encourage one another. This doesn't mean everyone will be able to say yes, but that is the beauty of pursuing more than one discipling relationship. Our dependency on accountability shouldn't rest on one person but many members. If you are a member of a church, you have committed yourselves to each other and to build up one another in the faith. Therefore, discipleship should be a normal and known pursuit among members of the church.
Discipleship doesn't always look the same. It may mean meeting weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or whenever both of your schedules allow! It may look like reading through a book of the Bible, doing a study together, reading a book together, praying together, or just meeting up to share your life and encourage one another. Life on life discipleship is stepping into the life of another–the sweet parts, the hard parts, and all the in-between. It is a commitment to another where each of you are and share gospel-saturated truth, grace, and friendship. It may look like sitting in a coffee shop, going for a walk, or joining each other for dinner. But sometimes, meeting that person where she is means during naptime, at a child's soccer game, carpooling together, or doing a handy project together. Seasons of life can dictate what discipleship looks like, and it might not always look the same. What matters is that there is a commitment to one another–a promise to always help one another pursue Christ and encourage each other in the faith.
The women who invested their time in my earlier years as a new believer truly helped me to establish a foundation for practicing spiritual disciplines and to mature in the faith. Their lives looked a lot like the older woman in the Titus 2 passage–reverent in behavior, not gossipers, not drinking excessively, teaching what is good, encouraging the young women to love their husbands and their children. I continue to be helped by these types of relationships in every single season of my life! I will never outgrow a need for discipleship, nor will I outgrow the command to disciple. It is both a privilege and joy that God has gifted to us to grow alongside each other into the likeness of Christ. It is a tender and loving gesture to give us help along the way.
Listen to more about discipleship relationship on Episode 61 of The Daily Grace Co. Podcast: Learning From Those Who Are Ahead with Hunter Beless on the Daily Grace Co. Podcast