Although mentorship is meaningful, we can’t expect for it to change lives the way Jesus did with his disciples. The disciples walked with Jesus through crowded streets, witnessing people be healed, abandoning their comfortable lives to learn from Jesus. They learned from Jesus so that they could continue his mission. That is a true disciple. And it is the model we should follow. Meeting once a week for a life update doesn’t lend itself to trust and accountability. We can discuss theology and talk through our struggles and heartaches without ever really experiencing life together. My prayer is that we would disciple by inviting people into our daily lives, schedules, meetings, marriages, and families—like Jesus did. Discipleship must push people towards their calling and mission.
Often the older generation doesn’t trust the younger generation because we have a very independent, entrepreneurial reputation. This reputation implies, “We don’t need you.” The reputation, assumptions, and demoralization is easier to look down upon than correct. Instead, the younger generation needs to be shepherded and empowered. The older generation can do this by opening up their lives as an example, and they should say, “Follow us as we follow Christ.” In this relationship, we are responsible to hold one another accountable to live in a manner worthy of the gospel.
Paul Disciples Timothy
1 Timothy 4:11-16 deepened my understanding of Paul and Timothy’s relationship. Paul approached Timothy with trust, allowing Paul to disciple him with boldness. Paul trusted Timothy because he witnessed the prophecy of Timothy’s gifting; he witnessed Timothy stewarding that gift; and observed the elders laying hands on and praying over Timothy. He knew God had plans for Timothy, so in their relationship, Paul drove him toward his calling and the Lord
Also, Paul’s trust in Timothy affected his approach to teaching. He trusted Timothy to follow him as he followed Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). He treated Timothy as a fellow pastor capable of sharing the gospel with the same passion and conviction he had. For example, Paul wrote this in his second letter, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). Paul had faith in Timothy’s gift to teach because he trusted his character, conviction, and passion to share the gospel.
Not only this, but Paul labored in prayer for his disciple.
I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. —2 Timothy 1:3-7
We experience abundant life when we walk as the beloved bride of Christ, and we see the riches of his grace in this intimate place. In my own life, God has used discipleship as a way to reveal the great depth of my purpose and worth. The women who disciple me know my gifts and my calling, and they train me to live in a way that fulfills this calling. If they notice me failing to use my God-given ability, then they admonish me to examine myself and reprioritize. Most importantly, they fervently pray for me asking for the favor of God to be upon me. These women trust me, and they invest in me because they believe God has gifted and called me with special purpose.
From the Bible, Into Our Lives
This kind of discipleship is not normal, expected, or comfortable. I invite one of the girls I disciple to spend time with me in my workplace, with my friends, and in my home. I ask her to partake in more than a coffee date (although we have those, too). I’m not responsible for the fruit she bears or her rate of growth, but I am confident that God will work faithfully as we seek to make disciples like he did.
If you have a family, ask your disciple to help you cook dinner for your family. If you are a businessman, ask your disciple to help you prepare for a meeting. If you’re a student, ask your disciple to help you study for your next exam. The opportunities for mission, instruction, and purpose are endless when we’re doing life on life discipleship. Trust that the person you disciple has been gifted and called by God in a unique and intentional way. Pray like Paul, and receive wisdom concerning how to best steward your relationships.
This kind of discipleship will shift a demoralized younger generation into mature disciples of Jesus Christ who will go out to make, mature, and multiply more disciples. I eagerly expect a revival through the restoration of prayer and discipleship. May we boldly disciple the younger generation in faith—just as Paul did Timothy (2 Tim. 3:10-16). May we boldly ask God to fan the flame of our gifts, through prayer and devoted discipleship.
Chelsea Vaughn (@chelsea725) is a graduating senior at DBU and the executive director for Internal Relations at INITIATIVE. Chelsea spent her childhood overseas in Thailand, and her parents currently live in Australia. She knew God during these formative years, but truly grew into her Christ-given identity as a senior in High School. The influence of diversity and rich culture in her life has been transformational and a beautiful launching pad for her ministry in Dallas with INITIATIVE and Movement Day. She does freelance writing and editing for various non-profits, and hopes to spend her life using her gift for communication to reach culture and communities with the love of Jesus.