Here’s a definition of discipleship I came up with one day as I was thinking about the subject.
The (intentional) influence on the life of another person that helps them grow spiritually, becoming more like Christ in their character, with the purpose of reproducing themselves in the life of others.
There are a few assumptions made by this definition:
- This influence is intentional? Although not necessarily true, it will be true for those who willingly enter into a discipleship relationship. There’s a lot of influence that takes place unintentionally.
- Our life and influence is the kind that helps them grow spiritually. This implies an imitable life. A life that helps people grow. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who have influence who are not worthy of imitation.
- The person on the receiving end has the desire to be more like Christ (i.e. make the necessary changes). You can be influenced without your desire, but you will not be changed to be like Christ without this desire personally.
- The person’s change will reproduce itself in others. The change in me will affect those I influence. Will I reproduce myself? That is the goal, allowing the discipleship process to be repeated in others.
Here are a few observations:
- Every one of us leave a part of who we are in the life of the people with whom we spend time.
- The more time you spend with other people, the more like you they will be.
- Disciples learn through both seeing and listening.
Technorati Tags: discipleship youth+ministry church
I’m just thinking through this with you: what about the discipleship that takes place unintentionally that we may never know about? Like, the student who comes back to me and says, “Remember when you said such-and-such? That impacted my life and changed my future forever.” I may have no idea what he’s talking about or even remember what I said, but discipleship still took place.
And is it possible to disciple someone without them knowing it? If I just hang out with a student one-on-one and talk about what God’s doing in our lives, that could have the same influence as “formal” discipleship.
This is excellent to think through. Thanks for bringing it up.
I actually think that the influence we have in others is DEFINITELY discipleship. I believe there is a formal/informal aspect to it. That’s why the word intentional is in parenthesis. I think we (those DOING the “discipling” have an intentionality in that we live our lives intentionally. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we are always having a “discipleship study” or whatever “formal” aspect there is to discipleship. Just some clarification.