Are you considering discipling someone but not sure what that looks like? In 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12, Paul demonstrated through his relationship with the Thessalonians what a discipleship relationship should look like. He related to the Thessalonians in four ways:
“But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.” The characteristics of a mother-child relationship are gentleness, tenderness, and a caring heart. This part of a discipleship relationship is a nurturing one.
(2) He related to them as a friend in 2:8. “Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.”
Friends have a fond affection for one another. They impart or share their lives with each other. There is a commitment to stand by each other as the relationship becomes sweeter with time.
“For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers.”
As disciplers, our lives should model the way to live the Christian life. Our actions speak much louder than our words, and our disciples will follow what we do more than what we say.
“Just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children…”
The qualities of a good father are exhortation and encouragement and imploring his children to do the right thing. The father is often the one who disciplines when the child gets out of line. There are times we have to be “tough” with our disciples and exhort them to stay on God’s path and be willing to confront when necessary.
Paul was intentional in his relationships with his disciples. He expressed his goal for them in 1 Thessalonians 2:12: “… so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”
His goal for the Thessalonians was to see them walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. That should be our goal as we disciple others.
Greg Ogden, in his book Discipleship Essentials, defines discipleship as “an intentional relationship in which we walk alongside other believers in order to encourage, equip, and challenge them in love to grow toward maturity in Christ.” That’s exactly what Paul described in 1 Thessalonians.
The greatest investment we can make is investing in someone’s life through discipleship, helping someone grow toward maturity in Christ.
What questions do you have about discipleship and discipling others?