Discipleship or Dependency?

Bible Study in DiscipleshipI was recently asked the question:

“When do you know if someone is becoming dependent on you in a discipleship relationship or if you are taking the place of the Lord in that person’s life in any way?”

That’s a great question. You always want to point the person you’re meeting with to the Lord. Listen to her, ask her questions, but always give her direction on how to go to the Lord for answers and strength.

If she doesn’t know how to have a quiet time, have her sit with you while you have a quiet time. (Bonnie did that with me at LSU.) Give her direction on what to do in a quiet time and help her understand the value of that time. Direct her to a passage in the Bible to read and jot down her thoughts or questions. Ask her what God is teaching her from His Word.

If someone isn’t consistently spending time with the Lord, but seeking your guidance alone, then I would be honest with her. When I find myself in this situation with someone, I will sometimes give her something specific to do in the Word, and if she hasn’t done it by the next time we meet (and there’s not a good reason why), I will give her a few more times to work on these assignments, but if there is no consistent faithfulness, I will usually stop meeting with her for a time and explain to her why.

I mentioned in a previous post, Questions About Discipleship, what I look for in someone to disciple. The two main things I look for are a teachable spirit and a heart for God. Does she long to know God deeper? Does she sincerely want to grow in her faith? Is she teachable and demonstrating that willingness to grow? If I don’t see that after a period of time, then I will stop meeting with her, at least for a while.

You don’t want to build disciples that are dependent on you, but dependent on the Lord. Who are they seeking direction from and time with the most – you or the Lord? If they’re looking to you first, then redirect their focus to Him. Before you give them advice or counsel, ask them what the Lord is showing them.

As a discipler, we want to nourish the person God has entrusted to us to disciple, but not in a way that would allow or encourage her to become dependent on us instead of God.

Do you have a question about discipleship? Leave a comment below and I’ll address it. Join the conversation. How would you answer the question above?

For resources to use in discipleship check out Building Your Spiritual Toolbox, Book 1 and Book 2, on Amazon.

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