The Beginner’s Guide to Discipleship

by Andrew Stroud | 3 min read

Discipleship is a word you often hear in Christian circles. We’re all convinced that it’s important. But ask a Christian to define exactly what discipleship is and they might have trouble doing it. Here’s my take: discipleship is living a life of devotion to Jesus.

It’s what Paul described as his “way of life”:

  • Paul says this life of devotion is our aim in life (2 Corinthians 5.9-10)
  • It’s one of the key things Timothy learned from Paul (2 Timothy 3.10-11)
  • It’s what Paul wanted believers to imitate in the churches he established (1 Corinthians 4.16-17)

Living a life of devotion to Christ is also what demonstrates that we have a sincere faith. In my last year of college, I became friends with a co-worker named Kevin. We were both 20 years old and I had never met anyone like him. I grew up in the Bible Belt and considered myself a Christian. That is, I believed in God and wasn’t a Muslim, a Buddhist or connected with some other religion. I guess I figured I was a Christian by default.

But my life looked pretty much like everyone else’s around me. Kevin was different. Not only did he believe in God, he was fully devoted and you could see it by the way he talked and the way he reacted to things. In little choices he made throughout the day on the job site. I was drawn to the sincerity I saw in Kevin’s life, so when he asked if I wanted to start reading the Bible with him, it was an easy answer: Yes!

The Lord wants us to live lives of devotion to him. But how do we do it? Let me suggest that understanding the roles of a disciple can help you get started. There are 3 of them and they all flow from who Jesus is and what he expects from us.

Jesus Is Lord

That means we are servants. This puts us into the role of follower. Are you trying to figure out your own path in life? Do you see yourself as the decider of what is right and wrong? Discipleship means following Jesus and letting him decide. No master likes to be disregarded or disobeyed.

Jesus Is a Teacher

That means we are students (literally, disciples). This puts us into the role of learners. What is your attitude towards learning the Bible? Are you making time to listen and learn the teachings of Jesus? This is a critical part of living a life of devotion to Jesus. No teacher likes to be ignored.

Jesus Is a Messenger

One of the reasons he came to earth was to announce the good news of the kingdom (Luke 4.43). This means that we too have a role as messengers. Jesus reminds us that a student is not greater than his teacher, neither is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. Jesus has a message. How well do you know it? How purposeful are you in sharing it with others?

If you are a disciple then you are called to be a follower, a learner and a messenger of Jesus. These are the 3 roles of a disciple. When you build your life around these 3 roles, you are living a life of discipleship.


Which role is most lacking in your life right now? What is one thing you will do to be more devoted in that area?

Andrew has a passion for discipleship and disciple-making and has trained leaders for the kingdom who are living and sharing their faith around the world. He loves being outdoors and enjoys reading, writing, and running. He and his family live in San Diego, CA.

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