This article is part of the Questions and Answers series.
Q: Can’t I just follow Jesus by myself?
A: Our personal relationship with Jesus is of utmost importance. But following Jesus is not intended to be done in isolation. The New Testament is clear that Jesus called his disciples into relationship with other disciples. He expects us to help one another follow him as we accomplish the mission he has entrusted to us (Mt. 28:18–20).
Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs to evangelize cities (Luke 10:1). He sent the Spirit to unite his church as a body with many parts (Eph. 4:1–6), as a family of many members (Matt. 12:46–50; 1 Cor. 12:12–14), and as a nation of heavenly citizens (Phil. 3:20). Jesus calls us to follow him in the context of intentional, meaningful community. He expects us to help others grow in their walk with him, and for us to be helped by others.
The Christian life is not primarily to be experienced as “God and me” but “God and we.” That’s bad grammar, but good theology. Faithfully following Jesus requires the help of fellow believers.
Q: How do I find someone to disciple me?
A: Desiring to grow but not knowing how to get started can be overwhelming. While there are no secrets to finding someone to disciple you, here are a few simple suggestions.
Pray. This may seem obvious, but that’s because it is essential. God loves to provide what his children need (Luke 11:11–13). Ask God to bring you someone to help you follow him. He delights in arranging divine appointments (Acts 8:26–40, 10:1–48, 16:6–10). Since he knows what you need before you ask, you can trust him to provide the right person in the perfect timing.
Join a church. The local church is the primary place we learn to follow Jesus. By committing to a healthy church that teaches and applies God’s Word, you’ll develop the kind of relationships that are ripe for encouragement, instruction, and accountability.
Ask someone. Don’t wait for someone to invite you into a discipling relationship. Take the initiative to reach out to someone you admire in the faith. Look for someone who inspires you to be like Jesus. They don’t need to be famous or have a seminary degree. Just look for someone who is faithful and invite them to invest in your life. If they are unavailable, ask them to help you find someone. Keep asking the Lord and seeking help from others. He will provide (Mt. 7:7–11).
Q: Am I a bother to a more mature believer if I ask them to disciple me?
A: To assume that a more mature believer doesn’t benefit from discipling others is a misunderstanding of what happens during discipling. God uses discipling to bless everyone involved. When Christians meet up, Jesus is always sanctifying everyone in the room.
Consider Paul’s words to the Romans: “I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Rom. 1:11–12). Paul desired to bless them with his spiritual gifts, but the same Paul who encountered Jesus personally (Acts 9; Gal. 1:12) and was even called into heaven (2 Cor. 12:2) also expected to be blessed by them.
As I recently reflected on my week, I discovered that God used both younger and struggling believers to bless me. As I watched them trying to trust Jesus, I was challenged to trust Jesus. As I shared the Word with them, I was served by the Word. As we worked through the consequences of their sin, I was freshly emboldened to fight my own sin. God is always sanctifying everyone at the same time. This is true for both the person being discipled and the one doing the discipling. You won’t be a bother to a more mature believer; you will be used by God to bless them.
Q: What areas of my life could benefit from discipling?
A: Jesus commanded his disciples to “make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you . . . ” (Matt. 28:19–20). My life has been marked by godly mentors who have used Scriptural instruction, thoughtful questions, and challenging correction to help me grow in bringing every area of my life under Jesus’s lordship.
Faithfully following Jesus requires the help of fellow believers.
As a young believer, godly men and women showed me how to fervently pray and faithfully evangelize. Godly brothers taught me how to read, study, and apply the Bible. Faithful mentors showed me how to steward my singleness and now, they help me navigate the blessings and challenges of marriage.
Wise friends have helped me process important life decisions and grow in knowing how to save, spend, and share the wealth God has entrusted to me. Fellow church members have taught me how to fight temptation, confess sins, and pursue Jesus from a pure heart.
God calls us to commit our entire lives to him and he uses mature believers to help us do it (Eph. 4:11–17; Rom. 12:1–2; Gal. 6:1–2).
Q: What are the dangers to being discipled?
A: As with any good thing, there are potential pitfalls to discipling relationships. One of most common is over-dependence. We can be tempted to rely more on the person mentoring us than on Jesus. It is easy to expect them to be for us what only God can. As you begin a discipling relationship, pray for God to use your mentor to point you to Jesus, not to replace him.
Q: How can finding a mentor help me not fall away from Jesus?
A: We may not realize it, but we are constantly being discipled by the world. We receive endless messages about who we are and how we should think. We are being trained to be masters of selfishness, manipulation, pride, and self-reliance. Satan strives to snatch the Word while setting snares through tribulations, persecutions, and deceitful temptations (Mark 4:14–19). His aim is to get us to harden our hearts against Jesus and fall away from the faith.
But God calls us to resist the tempter, renew our minds, and resist apostasy (Heb. 12:1–2; 1 Pet. 5:8–10). One of the primary antidotes to apostasy are discipling relationships. The author of Hebrews writes, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:12–13).
Jesus is the One who holds you fast, and he often works through his people to assure it happens. We need mature believers to help us resist sin, grow in godly affection, and to persevere in faith. Though there are many obstacles on the way to glory, God is faithful to help us make it there.
So, lock arms with other believers and keep running the race of faith. Do not lose heart, we’re almost home.
Garrett Kell is the author of How Can I Find Someone to Disciple Me?.
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