As a developing leader, it is important to remember the weight of responsibility leadership carries. Along with serving the people we lead, there is a duty to lead in such a way that Christ is glorified. As you lead and disciple others, it is up to you to raise them up as loving, Christ followers.
When Paul was writing his letter to the church in Corinth, he admonished them, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) Paul was in a position to tell his disciples that they could think and act as he did, because Paul himself was an accurate representation of how Jesus thinks and acts. Paul’s character was so in line with the character of Christ that the believers in Corinth were able to see who Jesus was by knowing Paul.
Are you in a position to tell others that your character is so close to Jesus that by watching and following you, they would be able to know what Jesus would do?
Read the account of David in 1 Samuel 17-18. David appeared to just be a young shepherd, but turned out to be a great warrior.
David was such a great warrior that King Saul became jealous and tried to kill him. David was forced to flee for his life. Read 1 Samuel 22:1-2 to see what took place next.
The people who followed David were the dregs of society. The men who were in debt, who were distressed and discontented. These were not the military elite, great heroes and champions. They were average guys with nothing going for them. They were broken in spirit and broke financially. But they followed David and learned from him, even as they lived in caves.
What became of these men that followed David? Read 2 Samuel 23:8-39, 1 Chronicles 11:10-47 and 2 Samuel 21:18-22.
These broken men fleeing for their lives spent time with David and became great warriors and giant killers, just like David himself. David discipled these men, and they became like him. When you disciple people, you can teach what you know, but you will reproduce who you are.
David’s disciples when he was younger are some of the greatest warriors described in the Bible, but what about David’s latter years?
Read 2 Samuel 11.
David had been a mighty warrior, but instead of going to war, David stayed home sent his army out to do battle without him. David then commits adultery, and then plots to kill Uriah, (one of his own mighty men!) to try and hide his sin. Instead of a mighty warrior, David is now a plotting, murdering, adulturer.
How do the faults in David’s character affect those around him? Read 2 Samuel 13.
David’s sons did not learn to be great warriors, but instead echo the moral failings of their father. Amnon raped his sister and Absalom in turn murders him. In 2 Samuel 15, we see how Absalom even plots to take the kingdom from his father David.
You can teach what you know, but you will reproduce who you are.
Discipling others takes commitment and sacrifice; it takes determination and hard work. Jesus called his disciples and spent nearly every moment with them for 3 years. While praying in the garden before His arrest, Jesus spoke to the father about His disciples. Read John 17:6-26 to see the heart cry of Jesus for His disciples.
Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8.
Paul shares the heart of discipleship with the Thessalonians. We see Paul’s heart clearly in verse 8 when he says, “we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”
Discipleship is more than just teaching about the gospel. Discipleship is even more than modeling the character of God. Discipleship is about sharing your life with others. Just as Jesus did with His disciples, living with them as He taught them about the kingdom of God. Just as Paul did when he traveled to the different cities of the early church, living with them and teaching them. Just as David did as he lived with and fought alongside his men.
In James 3:1-2, James says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.”
As teachers and leaders, there is a responsibility to lead well. Are you willing to put yourself to a higher standard, to allow God to mold you into the man or woman of God you are called to be? Are you willing to run the race like Paul, casting aside anything that hinders you? Are you willing to take up the call of discipleship so you can say to others, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)?
Take time to search your heart and ask God to reveal to you areas where you can continue to grow in order to be the ambassador for Jesus you are called to be. Ask yourself if you are willing and able to take on the responsibility of leadership. Pray about these questions and take on the challenge and responsibility of leadership and discipleship.