I just started teaching a new Bible study the other night. Our study is the Apostle Paul’s epistle to his disciple Titus. By looking at his example, we can learn much about discipleship.
I have noticed, in almost 17 years of ministry, that there are very few church leaders, as well as lay leaders, who are good at making disciples. In fact, from what I have seen, there are few pastors who actually make disciples, in a Biblical sense. I would like to examine Paul, a great leader who discipled many, and see what we can learn about practical discipleship, something that ALL believers are called to do.
Paul understood his calling in life as a follower of Jesus Christ. This calling was no mystery for Paul just like it is no mystery for us today. Paul introduces himself as a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul built his life around what his Master, God, wanted him to do, to take the Gospel to the nations and make disciples. The way that he was to accomplish this was with the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. An apostle was someone with a message from a king. He was to deliver the message just as he had received it. By doing this, churches would naturally be formed by the people who were being discipled. In verse 3, Paul reveals that he was entrusted with the Gospel when he answered God’s calling and that he has been faithful in proclaiming that message. The proof of this is the fact that there are now churches in Crete, a very pagan place known for lazy gluttons. Now there are followers of Christ and churches are established. In fact, they have been so well established that there are now leaders who can take over the leadership roles from Paul and Titus. Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ? Do you live as a bondservant, seeking to accomplish the will of God on a daily basis? Do you proclaim the message of the Gospel to the people around you and see to make disciples?
In order to be a great disciple and make great disciples, you must understand the importance of teamwork. Paul understood the value of teamwork and he taught his disciples the value of teamwork. When Paul went to Crete to proclaim the Gospel, make disciples, and plant churches, he did not go alone. He was part of a team. We do not know exactly how big the team was but, we do know that Titus was on the team. Once God called Paul to move to the next location, Paul left Titus to continue what was started. Titus understood the value of teamwork. As he continued to grow the churches by investing in the disciples, he had a team of people with him. When Paul writes to Titus, we discover that Titus has others helping him. Paul is on his way to Nicopolis and he is not alone. He has other teammates around him. When Paul writes to Titus, he also reveals the fact that he wants to send some help to Titus and then he wants Titus to join him in Nicopolis. They are all part of the same team, working for the same Master. Do you understand the value of teamwork? Do you work with others to promote teamwork? Do you teach your disciples the value of teamwork?
Paul does not leave Titus to try and figure out what to do. He leaves Titus with some very specific instructions to carry out the plan. This is very important in the process of discipleship. Paul had set the example for Titus and Titus was following in the footsteps of his mentor. Titus is a leader but he is not above taking advice from his leader. This is a sign of a person who is mature in faith and has gone through the process of discipleship, he is still teachable even as he is discipling others. Paul wants Titus to set in order the things that we begun under his (Paul’s) leadership, mainly, to appoint elders from the mature disciples and to set overseers from the mature disciples. The church has already been established and the disciples are mature in their faith. They are ready to produce leadership from within. Titus is to affirm the leaders so that he can move on to new territory with Paul. But, before leaving, Titus needs some help and Paul is sending help in the form of either Artemas or Tychicus. Titus needs to wait on his help, then finish the job, and head out to help Paul. As a leader, are you making disciples? As a leader, do you have a teachable spirit the way that Titus did? Do you take advice from other spiritual leaders? As a leader, are you seeking to raise up other leaders who can do what you do, not seeing them as competition but as team members?
May the Lord help us be about practical discipleship to further His kingdom and store up treasures in heaven!