All Christians are called to be disciple-makers and every single one of us are responsible to help those around us to develop in their faith. We are also responsible to develop strong quality friendships with unbelievers in our life. Then we able to utilize those friendships to further their understanding of the gospel.
What are the qualifications of discipleship? The five qualifications of discipleship are as follows; be a Christian, grow in faith, develop your leadership, be emotionally healthy, and follow the requirements of an overseer.
Although we all may be responsible to take part in the discipleship process of others, there are forms of discipleship that ought to be left to those who have been trained or seasoned in faith. Let this blog post will help you tackle the things that you may come up against. Let us look at what we need to be trained on, in order to disciple many others.
1. Be a Christian
The first qualification to disciple others is that you must be a Christian. You need to be a believer if you are going to be the one who is to disciple others. Pastors and leaders should not call on people to mentor others in the faith unless they are absolutely confident that the person is a believer.
You don’t have to know the Bible perfectly, and you don’t have to have been a Christian for very long to disciple others. However, you do need to have some level of genuine faith.
2. Grow in Faith
It is ideal that those who are leading discipleship, are also growing in their own faith. Again, they don’t have to be people who have figured everything out (let’s be honest no one has), but the person certainly ought to be growing in their faith. Before we call upon someone to disciple others, there should be some tangible evidence that this person has grown in their faith, that they have taken steps in growing in the Lord and have taken steps away from sin. There should be tangible fruit growing and developing in their lives.
3. Leadership Development
Growing in leadership development is another qualification of discipleship.
Ultimately, you don’t need to be a great leader to effectively disciple someone. There will be moments where the quality of your leadership will indeed impact how much discipleship you can do. If you have not been trained as a leader or have limited leadership experience, you’ll be able to disciple a handful of people. But the better trained you are in leadership and the more experience you have in leading, the more people you will able to disciple.
Leadership experience teaches us things that books and blogs cannot. Being in real-life situations with people and seeking to lead people in various contexts and settings pushes us. These new opportunities and experiences expose us to see where we are weak, which hopefully forces us to get better. It also demonstrates where we are strong, which boosts our confidence and inspires us to engage in leadership even more.
4. Emotional Health
Much like leadership, if you’re going to be someone who disciples many people over a long period of time, you have to be emotionally healthy. Emotional health is understanding how to navigate and manage your emotions.
Most people have certain emotions and feelings, and they react to those feelings. They allow those feelings to govern how they think. They allow their feelings to impact how they make decisions every single day, based upon what the are feeling.
Someone who is emotionally healthy has learned to control themselves in spite of their emotions. We are always going to have various moments of feelings, whether angry, happy, insecure, inadequate… emotions are real. God made us to be emotional creatures. But we do not want our emotions to control us. Instead, we want to react and respond appropriately in every situation, no matter what our feelings or emotions are telling us. We want to navigate every situation we are in with Biblical wisdom and make the right choices in line with what the gospel would expect from us, no matter how we feel in the moment.
5. The Requirements of an Overseer
A qualification set forth for those who seek to be the primary disciples within the local church contexts is set by the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 3 (the term elders, pastors, and overseers are all used synonymously and interchangeably in the Scriptures, so I will do the same thing). In order to be the primary disciple-maker of a local congregation, that is the pastor, you must meet the requirements of the overseer. The Apostle Paul is very clear that the pastors are to be leaders of high Christian character. In order to be the disciple-maker for the local church, the one that is shepherding the entire congregation and training other people to be disciple-makers, you must meet all of the requirements that the Apostle Paul put forth for the overseer.
The overseer is a leader of high character. They are the person who is the example for the flock, for the congregation. Let us look at Paul’s requirements in his Biblical writing of 1 Timothy.
1 Timothy 3:1-7 (csb):
“This saying is trustworthy: ‘If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work’. 2 An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not an excessive drinker, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy. 4 He must manage his own household competently and have his children under control with all dignity. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and incur the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the devil’s trap”.
Here, the Apostle Paul makes it very clear that the leaders ought to be people that are self-controlled, that have demonstrated competence, that have good reputations. Also, they live their lives in such a way, (while they are not perfect), that can be emulated and followed by those around them. To be the most effective disciple-maker that you can possibly be, and to be the leader that trains others how to be a disciple-maker, you must meet the qualifications that Paul sets forth.
It is important to note that these qualities are only for the overseers, not for everyone else in the church. If you do not meet these requirements, you should not be an elder in the church, but that should not stop you from being a disciple-maker. You should seek to be the type of person that is qualified to be an elder. But don’t wait until you have accomplished this to be a disciple-maker. Every Christian from the early days of their faith should seek to help other people in their faith. Every person who loves Jesus should seek to help other people love Jesus and anyone who believes in Jesus should help other people grow in their understanding of the gospel. Not every person is called to be an overseer, but every person is certainly called to be a disciple-maker.