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What Does it Mean to Be a Disciple?

Have you ever had that moment in the middle of a conversation when you suddenly realize that you and the individual you’re speaking with aren’t on the same page? Maybe you’re telling a story about a person and they think you’re talking about someone else until a critical detail is shared. Perhaps you’re describing a restaurant you both love until one of you realizes you’ve never actually been to the place you’re talking about. Maybe it was a meeting you and a friend both believed you attended until a specific point when one of you realizes you must not have been there after all. It can be a confusing moment. Isn’t it interesting that two people can think they’re talking about the same thing only to find out that they’re on two different pages? Unfortunately, when it comes to discipleship it’s a pretty common occurrence. Discipleship. If you’re a man who has spent any time in church, and I hope you have, you’ve heard the word. Discipleship. We toss it around a lot, but at the end of the day, do men understand what it means? What is a disciple? What does discipleship really look like? The word “discipleship” means different things to different people. For instance, when you mention discipleship to a church leader, they might think about programs where people gather at specific times and eat doughnuts, drink coffee and study the Bible. “Yeah, discipleship. That’s Sunday School.” While this answer isn’t necessarily wrong (Sunday School or small groups can be an important aspect of discipleship), it’s incredibly insufficient. Discipleship isn’t merely the programs at your church.

For others, discipleship brings to mind an image of meeting one on one with someone, learning from them about what it means to go deeper in your faith. This type of mentoring relationship can be an important aspect of discipleship. But again, if this is what you think of when you hear the word, it’s not a broad enough definition.

To be a disciple is to be a follower. Period. And so discipleship is followership. Discipleship is the journey, the process, that every Christian undergoes to be a more devoted follower of Christ. Discipleship is Jesus’ call on all who would believe in Him. In Luke 9:23-24 (NIV), Jesus said, “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it’.” Discipleship is the natural result of genuinely committing to a life surrendered to Jesus.

Discipleship is not the exception. There aren’t two levels of Christians: Christians and disciples. Nope. Discipleship is God’s expectation of everyone who enters into a relationship with Him. It’s not an exclusive club for the extra devout, which is an essential truth to process. Because if that’s true (which it is), it means you have to KNOW what it means to be a disciple. You have to know what God expects of you.

Excerpt from How To Be A Man: Discovering What It Means To Be A Disciple, available January 2021 at Iron Hill Press.

Andy Blanks is the publisher and co-Founder of YM360 and Iron Hill Press. A former Marine, Andy has authored numerous books, Bible studies and articles. He regularly speaks at events and conferences, both for adults and teenagers. He is active in his local church, teaching youth, adult and men’s small groups regularly. Andy and his wife, Brendt, were married in 2000 and have lived in Birmingham ever since. They have four children: three girls and one boy.

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