It Begins With A Relationship

Up to this point in the series, we have discussed the motivation and key biblical concepts undergirding disciplemaking. It’s important to be grounded in the ‘why’ before pivoting to the ‘how.’ But with the foundational principles of disciplemaking under our belt, I want to get practical now.  What elements make us effective as disciplemakers?

To help us answer that question, over the next several posts we will consider five characteristics of a disciplemaker. These characteristics—or traits—can be found in the book Five Traits of a Christ-Follower, which delves deeper into the core competencies that are critical for authentic disciplemaking. They include:

  • Know, love, and become more like Jesus
  • Know and live from the Scriptures
  • Engage those who don’t know Christ
  • Live in community with other believers
  • Equip others to follow Christ

The first trait—to know, love, and become more like Jesus- focuses on a growing relationship with God. We become effective disciplemakers by first being disciples of Jesus. Remember the principle of ‘we become what we behold?’ John 15:8 tells us that a fruitful life is a natural byproduct of being connected to Jesus. We can only make disciples to the extent we are one!

The entire practice of making disciples hinges on a vibrant and active relationship with God. This involves day-to-day dependency on His presence, regular intake of His Word, and constant communication with Him through prayer. As we remain connected to Jesus in relationship, we are equipped to be his representatives to the world.

Jesus understood His own mission in connection to the One who sent Him. Speaking of His united purpose with the Father, Jesus said:

“I do nothing on my own”Jesus does the works of the FatherJohn 4:34
“I speak just what the Father has taught me”Jesus speaks the words of the FatherJohn 14:24  
“The one who sent me is with me”Jesus was always with the FatherJohn 16:32
“I always do what pleases Him”Jesus does the will of the FatherJohn 6:38

Our relationship with God ultimately leads to personal transformation. As we cling to Christ, we are empowered through the Holy Spirit to mirror Jesus’ way of living and making disciples. Pause with me for a moment and ask yourself: Am I living a life of connection to Jesus, and therefore becoming more and more like him?

 As disciplemakers, our investment in others relies on our own transformation. The idea of transformation brings to my mind a type of bait used in fly fishing. Most fly fisherman use nymphs—or baby insects—that simulate flies before they mature into their winged state.  But nymphs are insects that do not stay as they are born.  Though they begin life as a worm-like creatures on the bottom of the stream, their destiny to become all God created them to be hinges on transformation—when they emerge from the waters with colorful, translucent wings.

We, too, are destined for transformation. Our part in God’s change process is to imitate Jesus’ model for life. As we come to know Him more and make our home in Him, He will transform us into people who relish doing His works, speaking his words, and doing His will. Ultimately, He’ll also use us to raise up others who will be disciples of Jesus, walking in His footsteps.

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