Discipleship Tip From Lee

Confidentiality Is Vital in Discipleship

Your disciples may need to open their hearts to confess ugly, embarrassing sins. They need to do this to find true healing. James 5:16 says we can’t be healed until we confess our sins to one another. If your disciple has a deep addiction, confession is necessary for freedom!

But you must be 100% committed to confidentiality. When your disciple bares his soul to you, cover his sins with the blood of Jesus and NEVER tell others what he said. 1 Peter 4:8 says: “Love covers a multitude of sins.” You are betraying your disciple if you tell others about his private confession. Unless he confesses to child sexual abuse or murder (which you are required by law to report to the police) his confession is between you and him. Your disciple needs a “safe place” to heal. Don’t disrespect him by sharing private information.

 

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You Must Learn to ‘Chew’ the Bible

One of the best ways to study the Bible is to read one book at a time (such as Romans or Isaiah) and slowly “chew” on each verse. The biblical word “meditate” means “to chew,” as a cow chews its cud over and over. The more you read a passage, the more “juice” you squeeze out of it!

Another great method is a word study. You can pick a biblical word such as heaven, hell, salvation, mercy, Holy Spirit, doubt, healing or justice. Any word! Then use Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance (it’s online at eliyah. com) to read all the verses in which the word appears. You can also see the original Hebrew or Greek meaning of the word. Doing a word study will soak your mind with God’s truth concerning a topic you need to understand. Joshua 1:8 promises if you meditate on His Word every day, you will be successful. Try it! ”

 

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Make God’s Word Your Priority

By definition, a disciple is a “student.” You can’t be a true disciple if you don’t study God’s Word. And studying is not the same as casual reading. If you want to grow to maturity, you must dig in the Word as if you were mining for gold.

When I study, I read a Bible passage numerous times. I ponder every word, as if I were looking at each sentence with a magnifying glass. I write down my impressions. Then sometimes I look up the verse in my Strong’s Concordance and write down the Greek or Hebrew definitions. During this process the Holy Spirit shines His light on the Word and I receive divine revelation. Proverbs 3:13-15 says that finding wisdom from God is better than finding precious jewels. If you dig diligently in the Bible you will find priceless treasure!

 

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How Many Disciples Can You Mentor?

I’m often asked how many disciples one person can mentor. I believe you can mentor people at various levels. Jesus called 12 men to follow Him closely, and He discipled a group of women (Luke 8:1-3). He also trained a group of 70 in ministry (Luke 10:1), and He preached to crowds. But Jesus invested more time in three followers (Peter, James and John) and John seemed to have the deepest revelation of the Savior because He had such close access to Him.

Jesus did not invest the same amount of time in everyone. He influenced people on different levels, but He focused on the few. Don’t spread yourself too thin. There is no set number of disciples you can mentor. But regardless of how many people you influence, make sure you invest your most quality time in the “Johns” whom God has put closest to you.

 

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Stay Connected to Your Disciple!

This week I spent several hours with my mentor Barry, who started discipling me in 1973 when I was a teenager. That was 44 years ago and we are still very close. During all those years Barry has been available for counsel, and he still prays for me and encourages me.

How long should you disciple someone? I never view discipleship as a short-term assignment. I want to stay connected to those I mentor for a lifetime! I’ve learned that relationships stay vibrant as long as I nourish them with regular communication. As your disciple matures you will relate to each other differently. But never assume that your job is done; don’t “drop” people out of your life. Even after Paul had fully trained Timothy, and Paul knew he would die soon, he urged Timothy: “Make every effort to come to me soon” (2 Tim. 4:9). Keep the bonds strong and develop lifelong relationships!

 

 

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Help Your Disciples Get Free!

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he walked out of the tomb–but he was still wrapped in grave clothes. Jesus then said to those standing near: “Unbind him, and let him go” (John 11:44). This is a mentor’s job! Part of discipleship involves setting your disciples free from the things that hinder their spiritual growth.

When I disciple a person I take them through a process of inner cleansing. We discuss their past and I ask about seven key areas: 1) unforgiveness; 2) sexual sin; 3) addictions; 4) occult involvement or false religions; 5) abuse; 6) father or mother wounds; and 7) fears and anxieties. I ask them to confess their past sins or hangups, then we pray for healing. I also remind them of the power of Christ’s blood to set them free from sin and shame. Don’t let your disciples hobble around in grave clothes. Unbind them!

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Don’t Rush the Character-Building Process

God shapes leaders by hand, and this is a slow, tedious process. He sent Moses to the wilderness to form his character, and Moses endured years of labor, trials and disappointments. But it was in the wilderness that Moses saw the burning bush and heard God’s calling. His spiritual roots went deep in those dry times. His leadership gifts were forged in the fires of testing.

I endured seasons of hardship before every promotion in my life. I worked really hard, I felt lonely and unappreciated, and I worked for bosses who were difficult. But the fire prepared me for the ministry work I do now. 1 Peter 5:6 says: “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that you may be exalted at the proper time.” Don’t try to exalt yourself. Don’t try to rush through the character-building process. Don’t avoid the fire or look for shortcuts. Surrender fully to God and let Him chisel you into His man.

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When One of Your Disciples Pulls Away

What do you do if one of your disciples pulls away from you? He may be going through a wilderness of discouragement like David; he may feel guilty because he gave in to temptation like Peter; he might even be running from God like Jonah. Do you just wait until he contacts you? Or do you chase him down?

First, the most important thing you can do is pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to work in his situation. Second, let him know you are praying and that you are available to talk. He may not respond immediately, but he needs reassurance of your love. Even if he doesn’t answer the phone you can text or leave a message. Third, love him unconditionally. Don’t scold him, get offended or cut him off. Remember: “Love is patient” (1 Cor. 13:4). Keep loving, keep pursuing, keep encouraging even when your disciple is going through hard times.

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Don’t Be a Lone Ranger Christian

Many Christians have a “me and Jesus” attitude. They think Christianity is simply a vertical relationship. They pray, read the Bible and listen to popular podcasts or worship music, yet they aren’t involved in a local church. Or if they are, they don’t build close friendships. But Christianity is not just vertical. It’s horizontal!

Hebrews 10:25 warns us about being mavericks. It says we should not forsake “our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.” The primary reason we gather at church is to strengthen each other. Paul told his friend Philemon: “Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ” (Phil. 20). God wants to use you to benefit and refresh others! Don’t close your heart to God’s family. Don’t be an isolated Lone Ranger. Form tight bonds of fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ”

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You Must Love Fervently

The apostle Paul loved people passionately. More than 40 times in his letters he refers to his disciples as “beloved.” He called Timothy his “beloved and faithful child” (1 Cor. 4:17); he described Epaphras as his “beloved fellow bondservant” (Col. 1:7); and he called Onesimus his “faithful and beloved brother” (Col. 4:9). The Greek word for “beloved” means “esteemed, dear or favorite.”

But how could more than one person be Paul’s favorite? This wouldn’t normally be possible. But when God’s supernatural love flows through you, you can love all your disciples like they are your favorites. God’s fervent love will stretch your heart and give you added capacity to demonstrate warm affection, sincere compassion and deep concern. This is the secret to effective mentoring. Love your disciples until they become “beloved” to you.

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