Passing the Baton
Helping People Follow Jesus Better
From a young age, Taekwondo was my sport. From my first ever white-belt class, I absolutely fell in love with the martial art and its competitive intricacies. Over the course of ten years, I ground out thousands of hours at practices, training camps, seminars, and tournaments — all for the prospect of snagging that next elusive championship medal.
Though dedication and discipline were essential to “go for gold,” the credit for my competitive growth belongs to my instructors and coaches. These dedicated men knew exactly how I needed to develop as a Taekwondo competitor. Because of their experience and expertise, they could identify and address weaknesses that I could never see from my limited perspective.
In many ways, the teacher-student relationship in sports is a poignant model for Christian discipleship. As a coach mentors an athlete towards physical development, believers are called to disciple other believers towards spiritual maturity.
Discipleship, very simply, is helping other people follow Jesus better. It’s commissioned in Christ’s call to convert and baptize the lost (Matthew 28:18-20). It’s fleshed out through growth in doctrine and godliness (2 Timothy 4:2-5). It’s modeled in older believers taking younger believers under their wing (Titus 2:1-8). And it’s fulfilled multi-generationally, as disciples produce disciples who can disciple future disciples (2 Timothy 2:1-2).
Sadly, many Christians view discipleship as a task reserved for the spiritual elite – the superheroes and sages in the church. Investing spiritually into others has become the expectation for leaders, not the laity. But this view of discipleship is a gross caricature of God’s program. It’s like parents thinking that only the “best” parents should feed and care for their children.
For disciples of Christ, disciple-making is the rule, not the exception; it’s a biblically-mandated mindset and lifestyle.
God has explicitly designed His church to mature through saints pouring into the lives of other saints (Ephesians 4:11-16). Therefore, if you call yourself a follower of God, it’s your God-given responsibility to equip and invest in other people spiritually!
Obviously, we shouldn’t disciple others if we ourselves are spiritual infants (as it turns out, accidentally becoming a heretic is quite easy). But spiritual immaturity is not an excuse for disobedience. Instead, recognizing personal inadequacy becomes motivation to seek out discipleship. We grow so we can help other people grow.
This is the beauty of immersing yourself in the church family. Through small groups, Bible studies, and living life-on-life in the body, we organically learn what it means to be godly men and women; and we organically encounter opportunities to invest in people.
So what are you doing to make disciples? Amidst the busyness and chaos of the week, how are you allocating your priorities so you can pour into people? And are you seeking your own growth so you know how to help others?
Like any competitive sport, discipleship doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s the fruit of intentionality and sacrifice. And like any competitive sport, the high bar must be met with conviction, not cowardice. The Coach demands it. Welcome to the church.