by Neil Anderson
THE DEFINITION OF DISCIPLESHIP
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing
Jesus' primary call to His disciples is seen in His words "Come to Me" (Matthew 11:28) and "Follow Me" (Matthew 4:19). Mark records: "He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons" (Mark 3:14, 15). Notice that Jesus' relationship with His disciples preceded His assignment to them. Discipleship is the intensely personal activity of two or more persons helping each other experience a growing relationship with God. Discipleship is being before doing, maturity before ministry, character before career.
Every Christian, including you, is both a disciple and a discipler in the context of his Christian relationships. You have the awesome privilege and responsibility both to be a teacher and a learner of what it means to be in Christ, walk in the spirit and live by faith. You may have a role in your family, church or Christian community which gives you specific responsibility for discipling others, such as husband/father, pastor, Sunday school teacher, discipleship group leader, etc. But even as an appointed discipler, you are never not a disciple who is learning and growing in Christ through your relationships. Conversely, you may not have an "official" responsibility to disciple anyone, but you are never not a discipler. You have the opportunity to help your children, your friend, and other believers grow in Christ through your caring and committed relationship with them.
Similarly, every Christian is both a counselor and counselee in the context of his Christian relationships. A good counselor should be a good discipler, and a good discipler should be a good counselor. Biblically, they are the same role. Your level of maturity may dictate that you do a lot of Christian counseling. But there will still be times when you need to seek or receive the counsel of other Christians. There will never be a day when we don't need each other.
Prayer: Father, help me remember that I will never be so mature that I need not receive godly counsel from my brothers and sisters in Christ.
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