Jesus often had large crowds following him, learning from him, being healed by him and seeing firsthand the many miracles he performed. In fact, there were times the crowds grew so large he would step into a boat, be pushed out on the water and speak to the crowds from there!
In Mark 3:13-19, Jesus spent more time with a select few people following him. He specifically chose 12 men out of the crowd to have a deeper commitment to him, and he to them.
“Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”
What was Jesus looking for? What was the job description he had in mind when he chose these men who would be the primary front runners of the gospel and church age?
While we can’t actually see into Jesus’ thought process as to why he chose one man over another, we can have a short list of helpful character traits to look for in someone to potentially invest in and disciple ourselves. The list spells S.T.A.R.T.
Prayerfully look for these traits in a person before you begin to disciple them. Be careful not to commit to discipling simply anyone who asks or the person who seems the neediest in your Bible study.
Stop, wait and observe them carefully. If one of the traits is missing, you will be frustrated in your discipleship endeavors. One exception to this is a new believer. If you lead a person to faith in Christ, it would be best to meet with them early to help them learn basics of their new relationship with Christ regardless of where they are at with the S.T.A.R.T. acronym.
What about the job description of a discipler, or the teacher, in the relationship? Well, look back at this list. Is this you? Review each category and decide if you fit this job description as well. A person who is Spirit-filled, Teachable, Available and Reliable, with the ability to Transfer what they learn is also the job description of a discipler.
Individual Bible study and prayer have their place in spiritual growth. However, learning through a community can lead to deeper, more widespread life change.
How do you have a difficult conversation with others? Watch this talk from author and speaker Timothy Muehlhoff of Biola University.
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