The very first question the Lord asks Adam and Eve after they sin is, “Where are you?”
He isn’t asking because He needs to know the answer. 1 John 3:20 makes it clear that God knows everything! Psalm 139 reveals He knows us even better than we know ourselves!
So why did God ask this? Because Adam and Eve need to know! It’s so important to understand where you are so you can see your need and be ready for help. And ever since the Fall we all need help! The problem is we aren’t always aware of this.
So that’s also the first thing I ask the first time I meet with someone. If someone has come up to me and requested, “Would you disciple me?” a key way I “ask” this is by giving them a copy of a simple Bible study to complete called “What is a disciple?” (you’ll find a copy posted under the “Hello!” section on this blog). This study helps people discover what Jesus says about being a disciple and then asks them to consider in light of what they’ve learned from this study, whether they truly are one or not.
Just because someone is a Christian, doesn’t necessarily mean they are a disciple or are ready to be discipled. If you do the study you’ll see that a disciple is a learner and a follower. To truly follow someone you have to go where he goes and be where he is – even when that’s not where you want to be.
It’s easy to follow Jesus when he’s going the way I naturally want to go. But a disciple follows God just like Jesus did – even when she has to say, “Not my will, but yours be done” regardless of cost.
This doesn’t mean someone has to be super mature and have it all together! Remember being a disciple is a direction, not a designation or a position attained. I’ve seen brand new believers who are ready to follow Jesus wherever He leads. You especially see this in countries where Christians face severe persecution. Under those circumstances, no one becomes a Christian unless they are ready to die.
But if you try to disciple someone and they haven’t yet truly surrendered their will, their hopes, their dreams to the Lord, you can really be setting yourself up for frustration. What that person needs is to be followed up, to have someone come alongside and help them get to know God, understand what He’s promised and start actively taking Him up on those promises so they can grow in trusting Him until they are ready to commit themselves to following Him wholeheartedly.
I’ve found it’s incredibly telling how long it takes a person to complete this study, that’s why I always say, “Let me know when you finish it and we’ll plan to get together then!” If they are ready to be discipled I usually hear back from them quickly. Sometimes I never hear back. Other times I don’t hear back until they are ready to move forward! I will not commit to meeting one on one weekly with someone to disciple them until they’ve finished this. I’ve found it really does help us get off to a good start!
This study is also an excellent starting place for those with a heart to disciple others. Remember, you have to be a disciple to help someone become a disciple because when you meet one on one with them, it’s not “let me tell you what you need to do,” but rather, as Paul says, “Follow me, as I follow Christ.”
Every time I give this study to someone to do, I complete it again myself. Because being a disciple is a direction, I find it so helpful to keep asking myself this question. It’s easy to get side tracked, to shift focus and not realize it. Does this ever spur me on to keep persevering myself! And every time I complete it there’s always new treasure, always something the Lord wants to say to my heart through it.
So where are You? Consider yourself invited to do this Bible study. And if you do, I’d love to hear your thoughts!