Discipling has to be a two way street. You bring your piece to it. Your disciple brings her piece. It’s the call and response we’ve observed in Jesus’ model. But it is your job to set the tone, to model how to be in committed relationships. You hold your disciple to high relationship standards, but you do so from your own example.
If you’re walking a walk of integrity and the model people observe is a good one, there are a few basics you’ll want to demonstrate in any relationships you form with disciples. As you model these, you teach your disciple that you expect the same from her in return. In particular, focus on the following five characteristics.
Confidential I’ll respect privacy.
Your confidentiality communicates, “You’re safe. You don’t have to hold back or worry. You can lay it all on the table and it stays with me.” (Note: teachers and church staff are under mandatory reporting laws in most states).
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just
between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother
over.” (Matthew 18:15)
Open I’ll be vulnerable and share from my life.
Your openness communicates, “I’m a mess too. You think you’re the only one? Look at my stuff; I’ve made my share of mistakes. I’m still learning. If I can screw up and bounce back, then I know you can too.”
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)
Available We can talk whenever.
Your availability communicates, “You’re a priority to me. I’ll give you my time. I’m going to put you in my weekly schedule. You’ve got a standing appointment, but that’s only the minimum. Any time you want to shoot the breeze, we can do that.”
“Now there was a man … named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night …” (John 3:1-2)
Caring You matter to me and I will make you a priority in my life.
Your care for your disciple communicates, “You matter to me. You are not another business meeting. I want to be your friend. If you have worries, I want to help you process them. I want to help. If you are excited, I want to be part of that as well. I want to listen to you and understand what your heart is saying.”
“Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we
preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” (Acts 15:36)
Honest I won’t hold back.
Your honesty communicates, “I’m not going to pull punches. If I see something in you that might be a blind spot, I’ll try to help you. If I need to say something hard, I am also willing to hang in there to get through it. You give me permission to ‘get in your face.’ You may at times get angry but your anger will not cause me to give up.”
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called
you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.”