Discipleship is hard. There are no two ways around that fact. If you are discipling someone, you will often find the journey difficult and foggy. You won’t always know what to say, do, or model. Your pupil will often disappoint you. Of course, a pupil will also please you and make you proud as they advance in their walk. If, instead, you are being discipled by someone, you will often find the journey hard to understand, and the model difficult to follow. This is because you’re learning something new, which always requires training your body and mind to behave against old patterns they have already established — patterns they will find easier than those you are trying to forge. But the benefits are often obvious to you, and everyone around you, once you have established the new patterns.
Since every Christian should be both someone who is discipling someone else, as well as someone who is being discipled by someone else, here are a few tips to help you regardless of whether or not you are the teacher or the student:
Be Humble: If you are the discipler, this is a no brainer. Christ is your example. He is the ultimate measure of humility, stepping down out of Heaven, and assuming without complaint the life of lowly men. He also became a servant to those beneath him, going so far as to wash their feet as a model of that role (John 13:1-17). If you are being discipled by someone, remind yourself that you have much to learn, no matter what station you are in life.
Actively Pray Everyday: Pray with purpose, and direction. Make it a conversation with God about the person you are discipling. This will focus your mind, and point it toward your tasks. It also is a reminder to you that God is in charge of the process, and not you. If you are being discipled, pray actively, and not with vain words or a lack of mindfulness, that God will shape you into the image of his son. Make it a team effort on your journey, and always remember that the fervent prayer of a righteous person has great impact (James 5:16).
Press on Toward the Prize: As you disciple, forget those things that are now behind you, but press on toward the prize of becoming Christlike (Philippians 3:10-16). Understand that suffering is part of that journey, and that you are an example of Christ for those you disciple. If you‘re being discipled, do not grow weary of emulating those who are trying to shape their lives like Christ. Define maturity, and strive toward that goal.
Discipleship is indeed hard, but it is central to the Christian journey, and it’s rewards are great.