The apostle Paul was an affectionate, enthusiastic, optimistic cheerleader for his disciples. He understood that every son and daughter has been created by God for an eternal purpose. As a discipler I seek to join the Holy Spirit to find and fulfill that purpose for my disciple. No matter how dire the circumstances in a person’s life, I must never lose confidence in the hope that God is at work in that individual and that Jesus will carry it on to completion.
- Learn to say “I love you” to your disciple.
- Paul openly and enthusiastically expressed his pleasure for others. “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:8) I have spent many hours being trained on how to share the gospel with others, but never was I taught how to share my life and love with others.
- In the discipling relationship it is important to tell your disciple that you love him. I remember a disciple telling me years later that I was the first adult who had ever told him that I loved him and how it served as a reference point for the rest of his life.
- Paul gave value to people. One would walk away from Paul’s presence with a sense of purpose and significance. Paul unashamedly expresses his joy and gratitude for the disciples at Thessalonica: “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)
- I have never had any Christian leader express to me that I was their “glory or joy.” Nor has anyone come to me and expressed their gratitude to God for me as Paul did to his disciples: “How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?” (1 Thessalonians 3:9)
After reading this passage I could not get on the phone fast enough to express my love and gratitude to those people I had discipled over the years. Paul gave me permission to be extravagant in my love for my disciples.