Discipleship: meaning and characteristics

Discipleship, we invite you to know what it means, what is its importance, and what are its characteristics, discover and understand everything about Discipleship, here.

What is Discipleship?

You may have heard the word disciple on several occasions, which can be used in different contexts, not necessarily in the religious one, however, in the Bible a disciple is a person who follows the life and teaching of another. Christian discipleship is a concept that has its origin in Jesus Christ, when he chose the first people to become his followers.

A disciple is a chosen one who is convinced to follow a doctrine, a movement, a school or an individual. In our particular case we will refer to those disciples who follow the Christian life, those who, following the example of the first disciples who followed Jesus during his stay on earth, want to continue his path and his teachings today.

We can recognize as the beginning of discipleship, the moment in which Jesus was baptized by Saint John the Baptist, specifically at the moment in which John declares that Jesus is the Lamb of God, two of those who were present decided to follow Jesus, becoming at that time the first disciples of the Christian religion.

The story tells that it was Andrés and Juan, then Andrés spoke to his brother Simón and Jesus called him Pedro and in this way the movement began. In a very short time, Jesus managed to gather his twelve disciples and through them his word and his teachings were taken everywhere, the disciples are the ones called to grow in the word and carry Christ in it.

With the sacrifice of God on the Cross after his death, the resurrection came, but before Jesus ascended to heaven, he was present before his disciples on several occasions, he made the call of his disciples and this is what is known like the Great Commission.

In the Great Commission, Jesus tells discipleship that he has all power both on earth and in heaven, so he gives them the mission of creating disciples in all parts of the known world. These disciples were to be baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity, as we know in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

This passage in the history of life and the beginning of what we know as the early church can be found outlined in the Book of Matthew chapter 28, verses 18 to 20. As we can imagine, discipleship grew when the apostles met in Jerusalem to that moment there were only 11, because Judas in a show of repentance for having betrayed Jesus, had taken his own life.

Peter was the one who took the initiative to define the way in which they would select the missing disciple and Matthias was chosen, now the disciple of Jesus, they would be the messengers of his word and work. On the day of the celebration of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came down and dwelt in each one of them, the sign that allowed them to recognize that it was time to make discipleship grow.

We can then find in Book of Mark chapter 16, verse 15 the mandate to evangelization: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”, however, in evangelization we must only believe, be baptized and be saved.

For its part, in the book of Matthew in chapter 28 verse 19 and 20, the mandate is to make disciples of all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, so that they may be saved, but teaching them to keep all the things that Jesus has commanded us and he will be among us every day and until the end of the world.

The apostles presented Jesus as a servant, as a king, as a perfect man and as God. Therefore, the great commission is not only to evangelize to make saved but of those who are evangelized to make disciples. In the world there are people who see Christ as a saviour servant and for them to believe and be saved is enough, but those who recognize him as a King, are those who decide to serve him, to be a disciple there are certain conditions and one of them is the way in which we recognize Christ.

Based on this first quality, the recognition of discipleship is made and unlike those who are evangelized who are given the information so that they believe in the word and be saved, the disciples are given training so that they form the character, which begins by denying himself, taking up his personal cross each day and following Jesus.

The disciples are those people who are willing to work on every aspect of their life, which must be corrected to look more and more like their teacher, that is why the first condition of wanting to be different is the fact of being willing to refuse to himself in order to be more like Christ and for this, a path must be traveled.

Discipleship Process

Discipleship is much more than just being a believer, a discipleship takes a preparation process, because it is related to being a follower, for this you must make the decision and after that you must become a true disciple. The faithfulness of the apostles who managed to grow and model themselves to be like Christ is an example of this.

For the benefit of all, as they understood their role as messengers of Christ, they left us the scriptures in gospels and epistles that serve to guide us. Each one of those who decided to be disciples and were accepted, because as we have already mentioned, one must have the qualities to be one, wrote letters that now make up the New Testament, so our path to discipleship was paved with their work.

Within this process to be a disciple, we must be aware that we must divest ourselves in order to know Jesus better, since the Grace of God is necessary to be in our hearts.

For this it is necessary to carefully study the word of God, to be able to recognize which are the qualities of ourselves that we must improve. Prayer must be our fundamental tool, to request the necessary help and wisdom to identify the changes that we must make.

For the study of the word, you can become part of a group that teaches the word, also look for people who are on the same path of discipleship, which helps in understanding the message. It is important that everything that is learned is shared, not only to evangelize, but also to identify new disciples.

However, if we carefully read the testimonies found in the Scriptures, we can identify in them a very clear idea of ​​what we must do to become disciples. We will realize that to be discipled we must feel that we have the need to respond to God’s call, we recognize Jesus as our king and we want to serve him.

We must feel in our hearts the need to know the word of God, we have to be willing to separate ourselves from what we are and what makes us different from Jesus, therefore we must know that we have to break with the world’s standards. Commitment and discipline are necessary, as well as the desire to seek out and motivate other disciples.

How to identify discipleship

In the scriptures we can find the characteristics to recognize discipleship, we can recognize its origin, through John the Baptist, who prior to the arrival of Jesus prepared people for his coming. We can also recognize discipleship in the work of Jesus, to the extent that he is shaping that group of men, who became his followers and we know as the twelve apostles.

In the Book of Acts in the formation of the early church and especially in the mandate of Jesus requesting that disciples be made. The growth and expansion of the church is a living example of discipleship. Discipleship is not defined in the scriptures, it is recognized in actions, discipleship can be assumed by the church as a whole and it can also be assumed individually.

The objective of discipleship never remains simple or individual, nor in relationships to do the spiritual good of a community, all this is a major job but everything will depend on those that God wants. But everything contributes to discipleship, because the church through the scriptures, through prayers, through the diversity of gifts promotes growth as a disciple. The individual relationship of discipleship must always be part of the great work of making disciples of the church.

Therefore, we can identify in the scriptures that discipleship is an intentional and deliberate action, it is not a call, it is a feeling that has a purpose. Why should you be guided? because credibility and motivation are needed, the guide must support the growth of the disciple in the word of God. Discipleship involves relating and loving each other, growing in the word and work of Jesus.

How to become disciples

When it has already been identified that we have the conditions and the desire to be a disciple and we understand that being a disciple is consenting that we will be a follower, that we agree to help spread the doctrines of Jesus, then our growth begins, through the process that we described above.

We begin the process of growing in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit has a place in our hearts, it is he who will help us overcome trials, to eliminate every obstacle that keeps us from becoming more like Jesus every day.

This process implies that each part of us must be reviewed, identify and analyze our actions, our thoughts, our words, each of these aspects that are so ours we must compare them with the word of God and see how much of us we must modify and discard to grow in Christ.

To do this, you must study the word every day, find the teaching to make the change, you must pray to internalize it and you must be obedient to the word, in order to achieve change. We cannot forget that being a disciple not only implies individual change, but also the search for disciples who are on the path of God or who want to start in it, so that they become our followers and in this way promote the growth of discipleship.

Characteristics of Discipleship

The characteristics of Discipleship are clearly indicated in the scriptures, however, to make your search easier, below we are going to point out the books, chapters and verses in which you can find the characteristics of discipleship, we will start with Mark chapter 8 from the verse 34 to 38, it clearly indicates that the disciples must be separated from the world, because the Lord must occupy the first place in our lives. One of the characteristics then that we can identify is that one cannot be self-centered.

In 1 Samuel chapter 28 verse 18, they tell us about the importance of obedience, this being the proof of faith in God, just as it was in Jesus who obeyed his Father until death. This is another characteristic of discipleship, being obedient. This obedience will bear fruit, which will be born from the Holy Spirit, this will be the most noticeable change and will be the result of our permanence in Christ.

When change occurs from within those who choose to be disciples, it will be reflected effortlessly on the outside. This being another of the characteristics of discipleship, inner change. Love is one of the characteristics of discipleship that is indicated to us in John chapter 13 verses 34 and 35, the disciples are asked to do as Jesus did to love one another.

This love that must be professed is through actions, not feelings, disciples must be able to see others and love them as superiors and ensure the interest of their needs. It is not an obligation to love them, it is an action that arises naturally. We can find each of the qualities in the scriptures by reading Philippians chapter 2 verses 3 and 4.

And of course we can not stop mentioning Matthew chapter 28 verses 18 to 20, it is not about evangelizing, in reality discipleship is about forming and making more disciples, we will be a testimony of the changes that have been generated in our lives and we will offer our experiences to others, to serve as motivation and we can grow in discipleship.

Although there is talk of qualities to be disciples, it is good to make it known that we are all capable of being disciples and the call of Jesus is that the people who believe in him become disciples, we just have to be motivators and encourage people to recognize the King and want to serve him.

How to guide

When our own transformation in Christ has allowed the change in principles, values, vision of life and goals, we are prepared to share the desire to serve the Lord. If we are then prepared to form new disciples, we must organize ourselves. When we find these new people with a desire to disciple, we must begin to organize frequent meetings that allow them to share concerns and knowledge of the word and work of God.

For each meeting you must organize what knowledge is going to be shared with your disciples, it is advisable to select a topic, allow the holy spirit to guide you. Before developing the selected theme, you should begin by praying with your group of disciples. Try to make the meetings feel close, familiar, not like a class, we recommend gathering around a table. Be attentive to the concerns of your disciples, ask them questions to promote conversation.

Always let each other know how important each other is at meetings and when someone is absent through no fault of their own, let them know you missed them. Developing a personal relationship with your disciples will make them feel more comfortable, it is good to do social activities together. It is very helpful during formation to share with the disciple’s spiritual needs and personal problems, we all have them and it is normal.

Sharing the word of God, the biblical principles will allow you to develop and grow in Christ, by listening you can more assertively guide the concerns of the disciples. It is important to let them know that they must grow internally and for this they must let themselves be guided by the Spirit and not only by you, the restlessness of knowing and growing in the spiritual should be promoted, not fearing the wisdom of discerning, prayer will bring clarity.

Be the vehicle of the word of God and remember that the disciple must seek the Lord to reveal his word. You are a model, if you are trained by the Lord, the Holy Spirit guides the word, you don’t need anything else, you just have to freely share the life of Christ that you already have.

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