All of us as Christ-followers are called to be disciples. To thrive as a disciple of Jesus it is cardinal that we have a heart of discipleship. I decided to research what the Bible says about the heart of discipleship.
What is a heart of discipleship? A heart of discipleship is when someone has such a deep desire for discipleship that it is reflected in all aspects of their life. This is reflected by actively pursuing growth in your knowledge of the Bible, volunteering in your local church, and applying your spiritual giftings so that your life is a reflection of Christ.
Discipleship is a command given to us by Christ and reading this article will help you learn more about what a heart of discipleship is, as well as give you practical steps to obtain one.
Heart Of Discipleship Defined
Take a moment to think real quick about something you’re super passionate about. This could be playing the guitar, working with children, social justice, or even creating tik toks (don’t worry I won’t judge you for this one).
We all have passions. Now think of how much time you spend thinking and striving towards that passion.
Probably a lot, right? You see when we have a deep passion for something it drives us to grow deeper in our knowledge of it, and increase how much time we spend doing things related to it. This is what the heart of discipleship is.
Having a heart of discipleship is having a passion so deep for your heavenly father that everything in your life flows from it. Your ultimate goal is to glorify God in all that you do and deepen your relationship with Him.
This allows you to better fulfill the purpose in which He has called you to do.
Some examples of living out a life of someone who has a heart of discipleship are: Daily quiet time, volunteering in your church/ community, applying your spiritual gifts, meditating on scripture, and having spiritual velocity.
Having a heart of discipleship can look different for everyone and in each season of your life. Make sure that you do not automatically assume you don’t have a heart of discipleship because you don’t do everything else someone else does.
In Luke 9:23-24 we see a biblical example of the heart of a disciple as described by Jesus,
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.Luke 9:23-24
In this verse, we see that the heart of a disciple is someone who is willing to lay die their own life, take up their sin, and pursue Christ in all they do.
To hear the heart of a disciple defined further in detail, check out this enrichment course from Bethany Global University.
Why Is It Important?
As a kid, I equivocated a disciple to a priest because I thought that disciples were really fancy important people, and only certain members of the church could be one. I now know this to not be true. We can see why in the Great Commission:
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said,
‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’Mathew 28:16-20
In this verse, Jesus reveals the calling He has not only for the eleven disciples but for all of us. We are to go and be disciples who make disciples in order that He may be known among all the nations.
This is why having a heart of discipleship is important as followers of Christ. We have been commanded by God to be disciples, and if we do not have a heart of discipleship then we will not be able to be a good disciple.
The word disciple/disciples appears a total of 273 times in the Bible. This shows how important disciples are to God.
This should ignite the fire within us to have a deep desire to acquire the heart of a disciple, and cause us to pursue growth as a disciple daily.
5 Ways To Grow A Heart Of Discipleship
In order to have a heart of discipleship, we must ensure that we work towards growing it daily. I acquired the following list to help you grow, and apply daily.
1) Deepen Your Relationship With Him
We cannot be a disciple of our heavenly father if we do not have a personal relationship with Him. When we look at His twelve disciples in the Bible we see that each of them had an intimate and personal relationship with Him.
In the stories of Jesus’ life on earth that are contained within the gospels, we see His relationship with His disciples. He taught them, was intentional with them, listened to their problems, they worked together as one, and He gave them authority to teach His word.
IWe can not get through this life by using our own strength, so we must make sure we strive daily to have a relationship with Christ to also rely on His strength alone.
You can work towards deepening your relationship with Christ daily by setting aside intentional quiet time with Him.
Quiet time can look differently for everyone and can be an intentional time of prayer, reading your Bible, and worship. Whatever it looks like for you it is necessary that you spend time conversing with God and inviting Him into your daily life.
2) Meditate On His Word
In order to live a life that is a reflection of Christ, it is imperative that we understand His word and the life that He lived while on Earth. We can do this by meditating on His word daily to deepen our understanding of it.
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.Romans 10:17
By knowing God’s word we are able to increase both our knowledge and faith in Him.
I don’t know about you, but every time I read God’s word I feel like I learn something new, and that I will never be able to truly know everything that dwells within it. This causes a hunger within me that craves His word.
When we have a hunger for His word it is reflected in our daily life by how much time we spend in the Bible, and is part of the heart of a disciple.
Meditating on God’s word is not something that we necessarily have to do for hours on end daily. I personally understand this as a full-time theology student. Pray over how much time you should spend doing this daily, and look at your schedule to see how much time you have to do this.
3) Making Time For Prayer
Prayer helps us bring Christ into whatever we are going through and helps us to surrender our daily lives. Part of being a disciple is releasing all of your control to God by putting your life into His hands.
Prayer is not only important to do by ourselves but to do with the others that we live life with. We should bring prayer to jobs, schools, churches, homes, and even the grocery store.
Making Jesus a part of daily lives is essential and prayer allows us to do so.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.Philippians 4:6
Prayer is our way of communicating with God and voicing all that we’re currently going through to Him. Doing this daily helps you to grow your heart as a disciple because it centers you back on releasing all aspects of your life to Him.
Remember, prayer is not one sided. It should be a conversation. Pause while praying and listen to what God is speaking to you.
4) Developing Love For Everyone
No matter how much we want to believe that we love everyone around us, we all have that one person that is a little more difficult for us to love. Though everyone struggles with this we have to realize that God has placed us in their lives for a reason, and us not loving them is being a bad reflection of Christ.
Developing love for everyone will help us embody being a good disciple of Christ because it will help us reflect on what He did when He lived on Earth. He loved the sick, sinners, demon-possessed, and tax collects.
Jesus loves all of His children, and if we don’t we are saying that His sacrifice wasn’t worthy enough even for that person when we have no right. Though this may seem a bit harsh it is the reality of what our actions say when we do not love our brothers and sisters as commanded.
To grow in this are spend time asking God to help you grow a love for others so deep that it cannot be broken. Ask for eyes to see people the way He does.
Then spend time intentionally seeking out the people you struggle with loving so that you can be a reflection of Christ’s love for them.
You may need to talk time to process and forgive people in your life who have hurt you. Remember, forgiving does not mean what they did is right. It does mean you are freeing yourself from the hurt and pain they caused you.
5) Apply Discipleship Daily
What better way to grow at something than actually applying it to your daily life. In order to achieve a heart of discipleship, you have to work towards it daily and intentional in doing so.
Every day when you wake up ask yourself How can I grow God’s kingdom today? Then strive towards doing so daily. Though this may seem like a complicated task it doesn’t have to be.
You can increase which steps to take daily, and realize that acquiring the heart of a disciple is a process that you will spend doing for the rest of your life.
You can apply this daily by doing the other steps in this list as well as help others in your community or local church, apply your spiritual gifts, be a good steward, and seek Christ in all that you do.
Another way to apply this is to evaluate where your heart for discipleship is right now and pray over what is currently preventing you from not growing. Doing heart checks allows you to be aware of all of the progress you’ve made, and see where you currently need to grow.
To check out how to master the are of discipleship, and the heart of discipleship go watch these videos by Bethany Global University.
How Can I Help Others Have A Heart Of Discipleship
In the Bible, after the disciples had spent time shadowing Christ and hearing all of His teachings, He told them to go and apply all that they had been taught by teaching others. Once we have spent time growing our heart of discipleship we must ensure that we help others do the same.
Though this process is stressful and you may question whether or not you’re qualified to help others be good disciples, once you have Christ within you you are simply His vessel and will help you guide the people around you as needed.
To do this walk them through the same steps that I walked you through to help you grow your own heart. Be personal and vulnerable with them, so that they know that they aren’t the only ones who struggle with this. Put aside time for them to walk them through each step and give them challenges.
It is important to know that you won’t have the answer to every question. That’s okay. This gives you a beautiful opportunity to learn from them while simultaneously teaching them.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1:8
Once you have Christ within you it is your duty to go and be his witness among everyone that you can encounter.
Remember that a heart of discipleship is not something that can be achieved overnight, but instead a life long process that you have to put effort into obtaining daily.