This is an ongoing work in progress. While I am writing these articles on discipleship, I am actually doing these same things with other men on a regular basis. Spiritual reproduction is my goal with them. I want them to be able to teach these things to another man that God gives to them. That is the principle of disciplemaking in 2 Timothy 2:2. "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others."
Visualize if you would that you are sitting across from me in a restaurant, and we are having an exciting conversation about making disciples.
I would suggest getting a three ring binder notebook for your new disciple, print all these pages as you work with your disciple, so that they may reproduce this in the life of another.
Friendship might be one of the first lessons in this series, since true discipleship takes place when you become friends with another person. For the purpose of this lesson, we need to take a look at close friendships in the Bible.
Many come to mind. The most notable, Paul-Timothy; David-Jonathan; Paul-Silas; Ruth-Naomi; Jesus-Peter; Joshua-Caleb; Elijah-Elisha; and many others.
Becoming friends with another person takes a lot of time and a lot of work. Superficial relationship do not give us much satisfaction in life. True friendship is very fulfilling and gets us over the humps in life. My pastor refers to this type of person as an "Encouragement Partner". I really like that phrase. It is so much better than Accountability Partner or other terms I have heard down through the years. Accountability scares a lot of people away.
We all need to be encouraged.
I would suggest opening up your Bible and studying Proverbs chapter 27. During this lesson with your friend, go through this chapter verse by verse,and talk about how many of these verses deal with friendship, and how you can consistently use these verses to encourage one another. Of note is verse 9, "...the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel."(NIV)
Notable also is verse 17, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." (NIV) Remember when iron sharpens iron, sparks fly. Be careful what you say, and how you say it. As you develop into great friends, you will be able to be more honest with your friend as you help them to maturity. Encourage them to be honest with you also, and share their heart with you.
Let's make a few comments about some of the folks mentioned above. You should do an in-depth study of these friendships, and apply what you learn to your life.
Paul and Timothy are my favorites. You get a real picture of this in Philippians 2:19-23. He said, "I have no one else like him." And probably one of the keynote verses in all the New Testament is 2 Timothy 2:2. Paul tells Timothy, "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." (NIV)
Paul and Timothy traveled together, suffered together, ate together, played together and ministered together. They mimicked the Savior who "appointed twelve...that they might be with Him." Mark 3:14. You have to spend time with your friend. The five things you do with a newborn baby are:
1. You feed them.
2. You clean up their mess.
3. You love them.
4. You play with them.
5. You protect them.
Do the same things with your friend.
David and Jonathan are another great friendship in the Old Testament. Jonathan saved David from his father's wrath several times, and you need to read about them in 1 Samuel 18-20. It was said of Jonathan that "he love David as he loved himself". 1 Samuel 20:16.
And for the ladies, there is the great friendship of Ruth and Naomi.
Take a few minutes and read this short book. Naomi and her two daughters-in-law all lost their husbands. Naomi tells them to go on home since they were from different towns.
Ruth's sister in law Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodby, but Ruth stayed with her. "And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me."Ruth 1:15,16
This made a real difference when she met her future husband and you can read about that in
Ruth 2:11 Boaz replied to her, "All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know."
Widowhood, a long way from home, and without a lot of hope, Naomi and Ruth became great friends and encouraged each other along the way.
Get your Bible and do a "friendship" study. Then apply what God teaches you with your "Encouragement Partner".
As I stated in one of my lessons, this is a good place to start with someone you are just getting to know, like we are.
I will be adding three discussion questions to each of my pages soon. That will help when you sit down with your Timothy and help him.
There are several questions I would like to ask you.
If we were sitting down to lunch and going over lesson 9, then these questions would come up as we talked.
1. Tell me how you became a Christian. This gives me a starting point so I can see where you are, and where you would like to go.
2. Assuming I got a good response and felt good about your relationship with Christ, then I would continue. If you gave me some response, that caused me to question your salvation, then I would go over the bridge illustration with you, and nail down your commitment so that you really understood it. Many men that we help will be unclear about their salvation, and many men will not even know the Lord, even though they are saying some of the right words. Only the Spirit of God can "bear witness with our spirit" Romans 8, and give us that assurance.
Now once I am assured of your citizenship in heaven, I would proceed with the next question. What is your experience in discipling men? Have you ever led another person to Christ? If yes, did they continue to walk with the Lord? Again, depending on where you are at on this question, would determine where we go next. That is why I have included feeding the new believer and the basics in lesson 2 and 3 of my website. You have to begin where they are, and proceed from there. Since we are doing this email, I will just ask you many of the questions now. But in real time, with you helping another, you would not do that. In America we call that "dumping the truck" on them. That is not good, since many men have to be led along gently. Some take years to get where you are right now.
3. So I will wait to hear from you before I ask any more questions. If you have not helped anyone personally to a become a disciple of Jesus, then we will both begin to pray for God to give you a man. That is covered in lesson one. That might happen soon, or it might take a long time. God has his own timing. He only wants you to be one step ahead of that person, and you will find that discipling another man, keeps you from sin. Even yesterday when I was discouraged about some bad things that happened to me, I thought of you, and the bad things did not seem so significant, when I thought of the joy of your letters and the possible future of many men in Africa being affected by our relationship.
Our God is great my friend.
I will call you soon. Let me know the best time to reach you.