I’m consistently focusing on what is likely the most foundational idea of my calling. I started with considering those that brought me along (https://scottprickett.com/2015/01/27/what-it-looks-like-2/) and am going deeper into what that means for me as I relate to others going forward. The definition of disciple is required for intentionally growing as a disciple maker.
The original word which we translate as “disciple” is also translated to communicate that the disciple is a “learner.” Something that I realized when I was in law school was that learning is really much more dependent on the student than it is the teacher. The teacher can’t read, consider, write or practice the things that they have to pass on for the student. Only by a student’s efforts born of their desire can they move from where they are.
John 4:1 says, ” . . . Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples . . .” He was “making” and “baptizing” disciples. John 4:2 goes on to say that it wasn’t Jesus that baptized them, but his disciples were actually baptizing newer disciples. So these disciples that Jesus was “making” were pretty new . . . certainly newer than the ones that came with Him to this baptizing place.
So these new(er) disciples were “made.” This means that, 1) they hadn’t walked with Jesus for what turned out to be three years like the twelve, and 2) they were identified as disciples. This means that it didn’t take a process to “make” a disciple. It took an encounter.
A disciple is born out of an encounter with Jesus, not a program about Jesus. The only way to have the “want to” necessary to become and remain a learner is by encountering Him. Other people, those that have gone ahead of us, can baptize, teach and build on the change that He caused, but only He can facilitate the new birth that creates a disciple.
The first step in disciple making is to encounter. We are much more facilitators at this point than we are teachers. Without a Spirit to spirit invitation, acceptance and affirmation of new birth, any further “disciple making” will be built on a faulty foundation. Being a disciple is much harder than advertised and when the fire gets hot, only the born-again new creation will choose to go further. The conditionally interested, self-disciplined moral achievers will check out.
So, my first conclusions regarding my efforts to be a disciple maker are:
- Disciples are born of an encounter with Jesus
- The new life from the encounter contains desire for learning
- From a desire to learn, I can teach and support the initiative of the disciple
- Their initiative is the fuel that drives the process
- That initiative will take them to the hard places of growth