Watch and Imitate
As you spend time in the local church, observe how the believers around you follow Jesus. Hebrews 13:7 encourages us to “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” Watch for people who radiate the life of Jesus and spend time with them. Their godliness will inspire you to imitate them as they imitate Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1). What qualities should you be watching for? Here are a few.
Quality 1: Faithful not Famous.
Mama Ruth was a ninety-nine-year-old widow in a nursing home. On the day we met, her wheelchair was parked by a window, and her eyes seemed mesmerized by something outside. I knelt beside her chair. Her wrinkled face turned toward mine. Without any introduction she said: “When I first came to this place, I was very sad. I thought God couldn’t use me anymore. But one day while I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself, the Lord reminded me that we shouldn’t worry because if God feeds the birds, he will take care of us. So I thought to myself, Maybe I can help God feed the birds.”
After each meal, Mama Ruth collected leftover bread from the residents’ plates. When people asked what she was doing, she invited them to join her. She’d wheel over to the door and have someone throw the bread into the courtyard. She then parked her chair to see the birds receive their promised bread. As they did, she would tell anyone in earshot that this pictured exactly how God treats his children. He always cares for them, just like he promised he would.
Mama Ruth taught me how to be faithful wherever God places me, even if no one notices. She was not famous in this world, but I trust things will be different in the world to come.
Quality 2: Wise in the Word.
I served on a church staff with Zach for two years. We ministered together, worked out together, and he cut my hair in the church basement. He didn’t know it at the time, but he was discipling me. Zach was a Bible guy. He didn’t always carry his Bible, but you could tell he’d been reading it. Scripture shaped his entire life. His counsel was saturated with the word. When he encouraged or corrected me, he did so by pointing me to Scripture.
I’d been around folks who knew their Bible, but Zach was different. He knew it in a way that made me want to read the Bible and study, not so I could know more than he did, but so I could help people follow Jesus the way he helped me.
Watch for people who radiate the life of Jesus and spend time with them.
Quality 3: Available to Others.
Mercury is a town manager near Washington, DC. He loves his wife and spends time with her each evening. He spends one-on-one time with each of his eight children every week. And on top of that, he disciples over twenty men from our church. How does he do that? He uses nearly every lunch hour to meet up with someone to talk about their walk with Jesus.
Mercury opens the word with them, asks tough questions about their personal holiness, helps adjust their family budget, and just about anything else they need to help them honor the Lord. Mercury stewards his time so that he can be available for people who want to grow. And what does he do if he can’t fit someone in? He connects them with someone else he has discipled. Mercury has one of the most important traits of a good discipler: he’s available.
Quality 4: Evangelistic Outlook.
Karen shows up at church hungry to hear from God. But she rarely shows up alone. She almost always brings non-Christian friends. She wants them to believe in the Jesus who transformed her life. She looks for opportunities to talk about Jesus everywhere she goes. Whether at work, with her neighbor, at the gym, or at a local community event—Karen believes God arranges opportunities for her to meet people and point them to Jesus.
Though a relatively young Christian, Karen’s evangelistic zeal is contagious. When I hear her pray for the lost, I’m instructed. When she asks questions about how to share her faith, I’m challenged. Find people in your church like Karen who model how to share the gospel with others and inspire you to follow their examples. I could tell more stories of people who have modeled courage, gentleness, prayer, joy, service, and hospitality—among many other Christlike qualities.1 No one will perfectly embody every quality of godliness, but keep your eyes open for people who exhibit inspiring faith in Christ. Spend time with those people. Listen to them pray. Observe how they parent. Watch how they evangelize. Ask them questions about the Bible. Follow them as they follow Jesus.
- For helpful lists of qualities to look for in others, study these passages: Galatians 5:22–23; 1 Timothy 3:1–13; and Titus 1:5–9; 2:1–10.
This article is adapted from How Can I Find Someone to Disciple Me? by J. Garrett Kell.
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