Discipleship is something that has been important to me for many years – it’s how I’ve grown the most in my walk with Jesus. So, today, I’m pleased to welcome Dana Allin to the blog to talk about his new book Simple Discipleship (NavPress, Jan. 2019) and specifically the 4 people you need in your life to grow as a disciple.
A Clear and Personalized Path for Discipleship
Discipleship can feel like a meandering journey—we don’t know what we want, and none of the programs offered seem to get us anywhere.
We need something to orient ourselves, and something to direct our steps toward a clear destination. Simple Discipleship, with its companion assessment tool, offers a plan for discipleship that is tailored to your real life and your personality, and clearly pointed in the way of Jesus.
Most discipleship resources are designed as mass productions—efficient for touching many, but often failing to see individuals grow in Christ. This is the best of both worlds—an assessment tool for your entire church, combined with an achievable, personalized discipling strategy.
The church exists to make disciples. Dana Allin issues here a desperately needed invitation to embrace our assignment with urgent grace and eager hearts. Listen and heed the sound of the trumpet. – John Ortberg
Four People You Need in Your Life to Grow as a Disciple
In my early years as a Christian and even when I became involved in ministry, I had the mind-set that discipleship was an individual pursuit. Discipleship was about my personal quiet time with the Lord to read His Word and pray. While solitude is an important facet of spiritually maturing, we also need other people to stimulate and catalyze our growth as disciples. Here are four people that each of us needs to accelerate our growth.
A Paul: We each need a mature Christian in our lives who can be an example and encouragement. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” While our primary imitation needs to be of Jesus, we often need role models who provide tangible examples of following Him. These Pauls can serve as more than examples; hopefully they are also personally invested in our lives and can instruct and correct us. Sometimes as we grow in maturity, it becomes harder to find these people because we assume that they must be older and must have been Christians longer than we have. However, a younger person and even a newer Christian might have maturity or particular skills that we seek in our own lives. I used to meet with a guy who was half my age and had been a Christian for about five years. I could run circles around him in terms of theological and biblical knowledge, but he was a phenomenal evangelist. He could turn conversations toward the Lord with such ease and in a way that wasn’t awkward and uncomfortable. I was in awe, and I wanted him to give me some instruction and encouragement so that I could grow as an evangelist.
A Timothy: We all need to be investing in someone to help them grow in their own discipleship. I think of Paul’s command in 2 Timothy 2:2 (ISV): “What you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well.” The command and the strategy to multiply disciples are inherent within this passage. Paul (the first generation) instructs Timothy (the second generation) to invest in others (the third generation) who are also able to teach (the fourth generation). We need Timothys in our lives not only because it is necessary for discipleship multiplication, but also because we grow as disciples when we invest in others. Think of the common axiom that you don’t know something until you teach it. I have certainly seen that when I help another person grow in their faith, I also have significant growth.
A Barnabas: In Acts 4 there is a man named Joseph who is nicknamed Barnabas by the apostles. Barnabas means “Son of encouragement.” What a great compliment to be seen by others as such an encourager that they bestow that nickname on you. Barnabas lived up to that name—he is the one who vouched for Saul (who became Paul) and brought him into the Christian community. Barnabas is the one who stuck by John Mark and gave him a second chance after John Mark abandoned them on a mission journey. We need encouragers in our lives who love us even in our failures and shortcomings, and who love us enough to help us move forward to a new season of discipleship. Sometimes your Paul and Barnabas can be the same person, but often they are two people, one who teaches and pushes you and another who comes alongside you when you most need it.
A Pharaoh: This is an important and yet unexpected player in our discipleship. Pharaoh was the one who stood in the way of Moses’ mission. The presence of Pharaoh, however, caused Moses to rely on God rather than himself. If Moses’ task had been too easy and he had no adversary, he would have been tempted to try to fulfill his role in his own strength. An adversary, especially a powerful one, helps us go back to the Lord for strength and wisdom. An adversary keeps us humble. I am not suggesting that we intentionally look for adversaries, but when combative people or situations come into our lives, it is helpful to ask the Lord how He might be using them to help us mature and rely more on Him.
I hope you can easily identify these people in your life and perhaps find ways that you can be a Paul, a Timothy, or a Barnabas to someone else.
Rev. Dr. Dana Allin is synod executive for the Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO). Dana formerly served as the president of the board of ECO, the pastor of Indian River Presbyterian Church in Fort Pierce, FL, and the pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Lakewood, CA. He is an associate certified coach with the International Coach Federation. He lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, Beth, and their three children, Micah, Peyton, and Piper.
NavPress is offering a print copy of Simple Discipleship to one of my readers! (US only) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? Can you identify a Paul, Barnabas, Timothy, and Pharoah in your life? (No need to name the pharoahs haha!)