I just can’t get away from the connection between disciple-making and coaching. There are many similarities we could mention, but one significant similarity between the disciple-maker and the coach is that both impart training in skills and character to others. For both coach and disciple-maker, this training usually proceeds from personal knowledge forged through life experience.
It should not surprise us that Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40; see our earlier post on this). Simply put, it is impossible for us to impart some Godly characteristic with which we have inadequate personal experience.
As a result, an essential practice of the disciple-maker is obedience to the Word. By “obedience to the Word,” we don’t mean a loose attempt to please God by doing things that seem vaguely positive. We mean practicing the process of hearing what God is saying to us through the Scripture, both in individual and group settings, and then acting on that Scripture in our own spheres of influence. This is nothing more than being a “doer of the Word” (James 1:22), and it is the crucible in which disciple-making experience emerges.
Those who are regularly obedient to what God is teaching them in the Scripture will find they accumulate great insights into helping others be obedient. Through success and failure, they will spare their disciples from trite spiritual formulas and offer them wise advice and exhortation.
In other words: if you want to be an effective disciple-maker, don’t neglect your own discipleship! You don’t have to be perfect to lead others toward Christ, but if you’ve never stepped onto the playing field, you’re pretty much stuck being the water boy…and water boys don’t make the best coaches.
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Each Thursday we send out our Training Resources Newsletter, which shares a new ministry tool and an encouraging story about God’s Spirit preparing someone for service.