Discipleship Requires Movement: How to Identify Spiritual Growth
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19
As followers of Jesus, we know we are called to go an make disciples. But what does effective actually discipleship look like?
Discipleship is difficult to measure. There are many courses, programs and activities that have been designed to assist with discipleship. But too often these things that were designed to grow disciples, lose their power.
So how do we ensure we are effectively discipling others?
Discipleship requires movement. When we surrender a life to Christ, we only just begin our transformation of becoming more like Christ. Romans 12:2 talks about not conforming to that patterns of this world, but being transformed by the renewing of our mind in Christ Jesus. We should be continually moving towards being more like Christ. And if we want to see movement, we need to be intentional in helping others grow in their faith.
We can be intentional by identifying what is next. What is the next thing this person needs to move closer to Jesus? To help identify what the next step may be, here are four areas for spiritual growth.
What is your discipleship like lately?
Have you thought lately about how to answer that question? How do you know you are being discipled or discipling others well?
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19
This is the called for all those who follow Jesus. And Jesus was the best at this. He exampled the best discipleship in history in the few years he walked the earth. However discipleship doesn’t fit easily into a checklist or 10-step-guide. Discipleship is as complex and unique as the individuals themselves.
So how do we know that we are actually being effective in our God-given call? How do we know if someone is growing closer to Jesus and becoming more like him?
Sometimes spiritual growth is easy to see, but because it involves the heart, it is often quite the opposite. To be great disciples and disciple-makers, we need to know if what we are doing is actually helping. We need to know that we are actually being effective in our discipleship.
So where do we start?
First of all, effective discipleship involves movement. It is a movement towards knowing and becoming more like Jesus. It is the divine transformation and renewal that happens as we pursue Jesus.
Here are four key areas that will help you identify movement and spiritual growth in your discipleship.
1. Personal Relationship with God
Do you remember the first time you met your best friend? You may have hit it off right from the start, but there was still so much to learn about them. As you spent time together and started journeying life together, your relationship will have grown and deepened.
When we first encountered God and came to know him, our relationship was only just beginning. Just like a friend, we have to nurture and pursue our relationship with God in order for it to flourish.
One of the defining factor of movement is one’s desire to purpose God. Through different seasons we can become distance or complacent in our pursuit of God. But God says “we will find Him when we seek Him with all our heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13). A desire to know God and his Word more is a great indicator of movement.
2. Dependent on God
As we grow in our relationship with God, our dependence on him grows. We would all like to think that we are fully dependent on God always, but as we grow, we stop depending on God for individual things and rather start weaving dependence on God into our very existence.
One way to examine this movement in your own life is to reflect back on your prayers over the years. You might even have a prayer journal from a while back. You will begin to see how your conversations with God are being transformed. Because as our relationship with him develops, there is movement in our prayer life as it grows and deepens.
It is the same with worship. As we learn to trust that God is who he says he is, we begin to trust him with more and become more dependent on him. For example, when we experience God as our hope or deliver, we begin to sing these truths with a new found awe and wonder of God. Our dependence on God grows as we come to know him more.
3. Transformed Heart
In Romans 12:2 God calls us to not conform to the patterns of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This transformation helps us to know his will for our lives. It helps us to not be consumed by the ways of the world, but to be living in the ways of Jesus. As our lives are transformed by Jesus, we begin to see changes in our lives. Changes in our habits, the way we use our words, our priorities, our choices, the way we love people.
One significant indicator of transformational movement, is transformed relationships. God’s whole story of humanity is his restoration and redemption of relationships. We are called to a ‘ministry of reconciliation’ (2 Cor 5:18) and to love one another (John 13:34-35). As we are transformed by our relationship with Jesus, we begin to pursue his intended design for relationships.
4. Kingdom Focused
As we come to know Jesus, we discover that we are actually part of something greater than ourselves. That in fact our lives aren’t fulfilled by pursuit of self-edification, but of being part of a body of believers that live to serve and honor God. Our gifts, talents and abilities have all been given to us for a specific function as we serve as part of Christ’s body.
As we grow spiritually, we start to better understand how our purpose fits within God’s greater plan for the earth. We grow in our love for people and in our desire the serve them. Our focus goes beyond ourselves.
We can see movement in the way that we value our possessions, our finances or our time. Our priorities change. Our plans and dreams for our life and all we do become centered more and more around Jesus. We shift from self-focused to kingdom-focused.
So I ask you the same question again, how is your discipleship going? Where do you see the most growth and where do you need to see more?