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January 7, 2014, 10:50 AM

10 Proven Tips for Discipleship


Ten Proven Tips for Discipling Others

Bill Elliff

Thu, Jan 2, 2014

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The most important thing we can do in this life is to make disciples, as Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:19-20. But often we are not aware of how to accomplish this task. How do we invest in and develop others?

Our best help comes from looking at disciple-makers and following them!

Next to Jesus, Paul seems to be the best at this task. We find ten proven tips in discipling from simply observing his care for his disciples at Philippi (Philippians 1, NASB).

1. REMEMBER them.

“In all my remembrance of you” (v. 3).

“I have you in my heart (v. 7).

We should care so deeply for our disciples that they often come to our minds. If they don’t, it probably indicates that our minds are consumed with ourselves.

2. THANK GOD for them.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you (v. 3).

Discipleship can be messy, not to mention disappointing at times. But spend conscious time giving thanks for your disciples, and let them know that you’re grateful for them and for the work of God in their lives.

3. BE JOYFUL for them.

“Always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all (v. 4).

Let them know they bring you joy!

4. BE CONFIDENT in God’s work in their lives, and express this to them.

“I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (v. 6).

Paul’s faith was not in them, but in the work of their faithful God on their behalf. And he reminded them that God was bigger than their weaknesses and would continue His work in them until it was complete.

5. PARTNER with them.

“Both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me (v. 7).

He let them know of his work, and they participated in this work. Therefore, they became “partakers of grace with him.

6. LOVE them with the affection of Christ Jesus.

“I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus (v. 8).

Paul didn’t love his disciples with merely human affection. Real, sacrificial, discipling love is a fruit of the Spirit. It is the love of Christ flowing through us because we have given our bodies to be used for His purposes.

7. PRAY SPECIFICALLY for them, and tell them what you’re praying for them.

This is the greatest tool in our arsenal, because prayer can do whatever God can do and go wherever God can go. Notice the four specific prayers:

“And this I pray, that your

  • Love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may
  • Approve the things that are excellent, in order to be
  • Sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been
  • Filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God (vv. 9-11).

8. MODEL SACRIFICIAL, MISSIONAL LIVING before them.

“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel (v. 12).

Paul lived what he preached. They watched him be imprisoned for the gospel. But then they heard of his joy in prison because it turned out for the greater progress of the gospel. He was joyful and courageous, even in the toughest circumstances. What a lesson this must have been to his disciples!

9. SUFFER for them.

“I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith (vv. 23-25).

10. COMMUNICATE with them.

Paul was always teaching. This whole letter is Paul’s best means of maintaining communication with his disciples so that he could encourage, instruct, and continually disciple them. When he could not be with them, he sent others (as he tells us later in Philippians 2). And he used every means at his disposal to keep communication and discipling active—all the way to the end of his life.


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