Many people have asked me the question; “How do I start when it comes to discipleship?”
Personally I always look for discipleship principles in God’s Word: In this case the story of Elijah and Elisha. In working with people I also realized, that discipleship is not only hard work, but it includes a risk as well. Not everybody you work with turns into a success story. I discovered that there is no ‘waterproof’ formula for discipleship. You can however increase your success rate, by making sure that your disciple meets some of the criteria found in the story of Elijah and Elisha.
The first thing we need to understand is that we don’t pick our disciple, but it’s God’s choice. Elijah did not choose Elisha, but God had allready appointed him to become his successor (1 Kings:16).
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as prophet to the nations.” -Jeremiah 1:4, 5
Secondly you need to take a close look at the candidate for 4 characteristics that you want your disciple to have or able to develop;
Work hard: You want to make sure the person is willing to work hard, there is nothing more draining than a lazy person. You use so much energy by pushing the individual and most of the time you end up doing the work yourself. Before you even consider working with someone like this, make sure they develop first some work ethics. Elisha was working as Elijah came looking for him, he was plowing (1 Kings 19:19).
Follow: A disciple needs to be able to follow the leader, and at the same time follow within a team setting. Can you imagine working with a Maverick, it will not only frustrate the leader but also the team. Elisha was following with his pair of oxen and worked together with eleven other drivers (1 Kings 19:19).
“In order to become a great leader,you first need to be a great follower.”
Sacrifice: There will be times where it is required to give up on things, making sacrifices for the greater good. My definition of sacrifice is; to give up something of value to gain something else of greater value. Elisha had to leave his Family and gave up his source of income to follow the Prophet in order to become a Prophet with the double anointing (1 Kings 19:21).
Serve: When Elisha’s time came as Elijah’s successor what was his reputation?
“Elisha son of Shaphat is here. He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah” (2 Kings 3:11) After all the years of being with Elijah he was simply known as the attendant (1 Kings 19:21).
The third criteria is, that the person has to be able to make a choice to become your disciple, you can not disciple somebody that does not want to be worked with or does not know you are working with him or her. One time I was asking some of the guys I discipled; “So who do you disciple?” As they gave me a list with names, I approached these so called disciples. “Who disciples you?” was my question to them. After I compared both of their answers it was funny to see that the lists did not completely matched up with each other.
“You are not the leader unless they say you are the leader”