At the core of church leadership is the need for discipleship. Just as Jesus did much of his work in a small, intimate group, so will most of our best work be done. While it may seem like discipleship should come effortlessly as we share our Christian walks with one another, it actually will take a good deal of thought and effort to disciple someone well. Here are some ways to make your discipleship more affective.
1) Get to know the person
If you are trying to disciple someone, the first thing you will need to do is develop a real relationship with him or her. Go out of your way to talk to this person at church before trying to hang out with them outside of your church. Once they feel comfortable enough to meet with you outside the church, then you can begin to develop a relationship with them. This is an essential for good discipleship. Try to develop this relationship with the person before you begin to do any level of formal discipleship.
2) Earn their trust, THEN use it
When disciplining someone, you will need to ask tough, probing questions about their life and struggles. This requires a great deal of trust. Before you begin asking such tough questions, make sure you have earned their trust. Too many people try to earn trust by asking tough questions when it should not work that way. The person you disciple will never want to open up if they do not feel comfortable with you. Asking tough questions too fast can set a person on edge. Try to let topics naturally arise in conversation. Once someone has brought up a topic, they are most likely signaling to you that they trust you with this topic. Questions about it then become fair game. Always remember that a person’s trust in you is a precious thing. You should never share something a person tells you in confidence to another unless they are in physical danger or if you are asking one (keyword: ONE) more experienced leader than you for advice on how to lead them well.
3) Be consistent
The simplest way to show a person you care about them is to make them a consistent part of your life. Try to have set times where you can meet with your disciple. If you cannot physically meet with them, try to substitute that time with a phone call at some point. In between your meetings, send them a text message to let them know you care for them and are always available to them. Things that require very little effort can go a long way in showing a disciple that they are cared for and can trust you.
4) Point them towards Jesus
In every discipleship relationship, the goal is to make the person more like Jesus. You will undoubtedly share your own experience, but you must always make sure they get more of Jesus than they do of you. He is ultimately the one changing people and your disciple needs to know that. Make sure that you are like Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1 who said, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.”
Discipleship is a lot of hard work, but it is work well worth doing. There are few rewards as great as seeing someone you helped disciple grow in their walk with Christ.