“How do I make a disciple of Jesus, especially since I have never been discipled? What curriculum do you recommend?”
My answer is to allow people close enough that they will be able imitate your behavior and attitude. Your disciple needs access to your life for him to be able to pattern his life after yours. The weekly meetings at Starbucks or Bible study group are not enough. It is essential for your disciple to observe how you interact with your family, how you handle stressful situations, to witness your ministry to others, and to see how you spend your downtime. It is in these settings he will learn how to apply Biblical truth to everyday life.
Paul shows us this approach in his ministry in Thessalonica. He writes,
“You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord . . . And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.” 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6.
Paul asks his disciples to imitate his life as he imitates Jesus, and so to imitate Paul was to imitate Jesus. Paul’s disciples were then models for others to imitate and so a multiplication pattern was initiated.
The basis of this life access and bond between the discipler and disciple is love. Later is the same letter Paul writes, “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8-9.
The disicipler is able to love others because of the love he has experienced from his discipler. He passes this love on to his disciples and they will pass it on to others.
If we could ask Jesus’s disciples about their time with Jesus, they would answer, “Love!” Those that had encountered the apostle Paul would exclaim, “Oh, how he loved!”
Disciple-making is not curriculum driven or a certification program. Disciple-making is a relationship as is a mother, father, and friend.
One can hide behind curriculum, programs, and classes but it is love that enables one to say to others, “Imitate me as I imitate the Lord.” Only love empowers the discipler to be able to open up his life so that his followers can emulate his behavior.