How Do I Know Who to Invest My Disciplemaking Efforts in?

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We’re all busy, and our pace of life doesn’t leave much room for anything other than the highest of priorities. As you choose to place Jesus’ call to make disciples as a high priority in your life, you may find yourself wondering, How do I know who I should invest this precious time in? I’ve only so much to give, so I want to invest it in the right people. There are a few helpful ways to discern who could be a good fit for a disciplemaking relationship.

Faith

Does the person you’re thinking about discipling have FAITH? And no, I’m not talking about faith in Jesus (though that’s something we hope for in every disciplemaking relationship). FAITH is an acronym that helps us assess whether someone possesses a heart posture of seeking after God, and whether or not they are already a believer. Let’s look at what each letter of this acronym represents.

Faithful. A person who is faithful is someone who keeps their word. They are trustworthy with the responsibilities entrusted to them. Faithfulness is an important quality in a potential disciple because it means you can be confident that they will reliably show up, follow through on their commitments, and value your time and investment.

Available. A person who is available has the time, capacity, resources, and energy for whatever they are committing to. A person can have all the faithfulness in the world, but if their lives are simply too full to commit the time and energy to be discipled, you’ll find the endeavor frustrating and fruitless.

Intentional or initiative. A person who is intentional is not just a responder but someone who takes initiative in their lives. They don’t just wait for opportunities to come to them; they seek out opportunities to grow and serve others. When someone asks to read the Bible with me or to be discipled, I automatically bump them to the top of the list of people to consider discipling. Someone taking the initiative communicates to me that they have evaluated a need in their lives and are actively seeking out support to meet that need.

Teachable. A person who is teachable is humble enough to recognize they don’t have all the answers. They aren’t combative or dismissive of what you bring to the table; instead, they are eager to learn and receive from you and put new tools into practice. Discipling someone who feels they know all the answers and is continually closed to new perspectives week after week can be frustrating. The softness of a humble and teachable heart provides rich soil for new growth to sprout and bear fruit.

Heart for God and heart for people. This may be confusing if you’re thinking about discipling a non-Christian, but I fully believe that you can sense whether someone is looking for answers greater than themselves. At the very least, you can observe whether they have genuine care and concern for other people. We are image-bearers of God, and our ability to love echoes back to a God who is love, whether we know him personally or not. Some of my most fulfilling disciplemaking relationships have been with non-Christians who were seeking God before they even realized who they were looking for.

You may be thinking, But I don’t know this person super well. How can I tell if they possess these qualities? You can glean a lot simply from observing someone. Does this person follow through on their commitments? How do they steward their responsibilities and resources? Are they always talking about how busy they are and how they can’t fathom adding something else to their plate? Do you observe them seeking out development opportunities? Do they ask good questions, and are they genuinely curious about your walk with God? Have you observed them moving toward others in love and service? Have they expressed a desire to grow in their walk with God but don’t know where to start?

Hopefully this framework can help you identify the character traits of someone who would be a good candidate for a disciplemaking relationship. And hopefully this framework can even help you evaluate the condition of your own heart and posture as you walk with God and enter disciplemaking.

The Four Psychographic Qualities of a Disciplemaker

Here are four qualities commonly observed among disciplemakers:

  1. Optimistic for change—They believe they can and should have a daily impact on the world and on those immediately around them.
  2. Accountability driven—They know the importance of mentor ship and give others the authority to lead them.
  3. Relationally motivated—They share what they’ve been given to help others grow, and they feel a relational responsibility to invest in the spiritual growth of friends and family.
  4. Growth minded—They know there is always more work to do, and they seek opportunities to challenge themselves.

Those who possess these four qualities may not yet be disciplemakers, but they are more likely to catch the disciplemaking vision and continue the spiritual lineage of disciplemakers who have gone before.

Where You Live, Work, and Play

With our frenzied pace of life and many competing priorities, adding a completely separate commitment to our lives could easily set us up for failure. But here’s some great news: disciplemaking doesn’t need to be separate from the other parts of your life! As you consider who to disciple, an excellent question to keep in mind is this: what potential disciples are around you every day, right where you live, work, and play?

I love what my friend Kyra has done in her workplace. Kyra works  full- time in the medical device engineering industry. When she observed that her Christian and  non-C hristian coworkers were interested not only in keeping up with the television show The Bachelor but also in reading the Bible together, she started a weekly “Bachelor and Bible” time. Each week she and her coworkers would gather to watch an episode of The Bachelor and then read through the Bible. What a creative way to share the gospel, live in community with other believers and among the lost, and make disciples literally right where she lives, works, and plays!

So what could that look like for you?

If you’re a student, is there someone in your class, dorm, or lab you could potentially disciple?

If you work, is there someone in the workplace you could potentially disciple?

If you are a full-time stay-at-home parent, is there another parent in your child’s playgroup, school, or extracurricular activities that you could invest in? What would it look like to intentionally disciple your children?

If you participate in any hobbies with others, is there anyone in that group you could invest in?

As you consider people you could possibly disciple, ask the Lord to open your eyes to those around you and point you to someone he would want you to invest in. Disciplemaking doesn’t need to be separate from our everyday lives. We can make disciples right in the middle of what we’re doing.

Alice Matagora
Alice Matagora

is the Leader Development Initiatives Program Coordinator for The Navigators and Navigators Collegiate staff at the University of California at Irvine. She lives in California with her husband and children.


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