What does discipling mean? Discipling is a word that you don’t hear much outside of Christian circles. Discipling is a word used in the Church to refer to the process used to raise passionate followers of Jesus.
What is a disciple?
A disciple is a student.
A disciple is someone who not only believes something is but is dedicated to learning more and to teaching others.
A disciple is someone who is shaped and transformed by the teachings of someone else.
The Twelve Disciples – The 12 disciples were the twelve men chosen to be a part of Jesus’ inner circle. These were the students of Jesus who literally followed him around to learn from him. We also call these men the Apostles.
A disciple is a follower of Jesus. Jesus’ followers, outside of the 12, who followed Jesus in his lifetime were called disciples. They believed in Jesus and would gather to learn from him, but they weren’t a part of the small band of 12 that were able to travel with Jesus.
Christian vs. Disciple
Many people today call themselves Christians, fewer call themselves disciples. (There is a denomination that is called Disciples of Christ, and whose members call themselves Disciples.) What does it mean when someone says that they are a disciple of Christ? For many, this means that they take their faith more intentionally, and they are actively trying to grow their faith and become more like Jesus. Discipling is a continual process of growth in Christian maturity.
Discipling vs. Disciplining
Discipling vs. Disciplining. Notice the extra “in” between these two words? (Disciple +ing & Discipline + ing) Even though they come from the same root, the words have distinct meanings.
Discipling is the process of making a disciple. Disciplining is the process of executing discipline for bad behavior. Some Christian parents think that they are discipling their children, when, in fact, they are actually disciplining their children.
Discipline seeks to correct wrong behavior. As parents, we often use punishment of some sort in an effort to get our children to behave in ways that we want them to act.
Discipling is a process that focuses on transforming the heart from which the behavior flows. When we focus on discipleship, our goal is not outward conformity, but rather children who love Jesus and want to act like Jesus. When they sin, we want a change of behavior not to please their parents or others in authority, but rather because they are self-motivated to become more and more like Jesus.
Discipline is from the outside; discipleship is from the inside. When our children grow up, faith that sticks is faith from the inside!
Are you discipling your children?
Discipleship is an active, intentional process. Just taking your children to Sunday School or to church services is not discipleship.
Discipleship is less about programs and more about a personal relationship between a mature believer and a new believer. It is through modeling, prayer, and conversation that the new believer is guided along their faith journey.
Ironically, the dictionary definition of discipling lists the term as archaic. For many Christian families, not only the word, but the discipleship process is no longer in use. If we want to raise passionate disciples of Christ who will follow Jesus through adulthood, we need to revive discipling in our homes.
Jesus’ Discipling Program
How did Jesus make disciples? Jesus’ message was of eternal significance. He knew that he needed to pour into a set of leaders who would carry on his message after his death and resurrection on the cross. He also knew that he had just three years to transform the hearts and minds of these twelve men for the success of his ministry.
So, what did discipling mean for Jesus? It meant taking these men with him almost everywhere he went. He talked, walked, ate, and lived with these twelve men. They were able to hear the messages that he preached to the crowds. They were also able to ask him questions in private later.
They were able to see him set aside time for prayer. The disciples were with him as they attended worship services. These men saw him live out his teachings in how he treated those around him. The 12 disciples had a relationship with Jesus.
It was through the quality time and intentional process of this relationship that their faith was strong enough to make it through the dark hours of the resurrection and the dark hours of the persecution of the new church.
What should discipling mean for you?
As Christians, we should have a desire to grow more and more like Jesus. We need to be around other Christians who inspire us and lead us to be more like Jesus. Studying God’s word and intentionally evaluating our spiritual life are ways in which we press on to be more like Christ.
What does discipling mean for you, as a parent?
As a parent, our most important task is to raise followers of Jesus. We want so much for our children, including worldly success and happiness. As believers, we know that all of that is fleeting.
We are called to seek first the Kingdom of God. Discipling our children is an opportunity to focus on what is of eternal importance for our children and ourselves.
The focus here at FaithfulMotherhood.com is to equip you to focus on discipling. Make sure to sign-up for our newsletter and check out the other great resources to help your family to think, act, and believe more Biblically!
How to Effectively Teach Your Child about Christ (This one is a MUST read!)