A Basic Primer on Discipleship Relationships

Guest post by Rob Tims

Who did you most admire or want to be like as a child. Why did you admire them? What did you learn from them? How has that relationship made a lasting impression on your life?

In many senses of the concept, this person was discipling you. Whether you were voluntarily submitting yourself to his teaching unbeknownst to him, or whether He consciously entered in to that relationship to impress upon you some truths or wisdom for life, you were in a discipleship relationship.

To this end, take a look at Luke 6:39-42.

39 He also told them a parable: “Can the blind guide the blind? Won’t they both fall into a pit?  40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.

41 “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself don’t see the log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck in your brother’s eye.

So, here we are … in the middle of Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount … and Jesus offers four points of wisdom for a discipleship relationship.

First (and second), we are to be conscious how we lead and careful who we follow (v. 39).

One of the primary discipleship relationships I have is with my four children, especially my two oldest boys who are 13 and 12. The apple really doesn’t fall too far from the tree, so in many ways, my kids are a reflection of my good and bad. Seeing these things reflected back on me makes me all the more conscious of how I lead. Sometimes it is the blind leading the blind into a pit, though graciously sometimes I lead them in the right direction. For example, when I see wring his hands and leave the room in a fit of tears when the Cowboys lose to the Falcons, it’s because the blind is leading the blind. When I hear him attempt to bully his mother in an argument with a certain tone and a hint of perceived intellectual superiority, it’s because the blind is leading the blind. In this simple analogy/parable, Jesus is calling His disciples to be conscious of how they lead. We cannot hope to act as a guide to others unless we see clearly where we are going. Lacking love, we do not. If we don’t know the way of salvation ourselves, we can lead others only to disaster. And because there are guys out there like that, Jesus’ parable also warns us to be careful who we follow.

Third, we are to be cognizant of our position. As Jesus says in v. 40, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. “

A student’s progress is limited by the teaching he gets: he cannot know more than his teacher. We must not understand this in terms of our own situation, where the internet and smartphones put endless possibilities before the student. Jesus is speaking of a time when the disciple had only his rabbi as his source of information. To claim that he was above his teacher was the height of presumption. The disciple’s one aim was to be like his teacher and he attained this only when fully taught. Since it is unreasonable to expect a disciple to know more than his teacher, it is important that the teacher be well advanced himself in the Christian way. Specifically, he must be on his guard against spiritual blindness and lack of love.

Finally, we are to be clear in our perception (v. 41-42). Read vv. 41-42 closely. Jesus does not say, “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye when you have a log in your own?” He says, ” … but don’t notice the log in your eye” … and … “don’t see the log in your eye.” The only way you can see a speck in someone else’s eye when you have a diving board in your own is to be completely oblivious to the diving board. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that the more I ignore my own issues, the better I am at pointing out other people’s issues. It is important that we take the log out of our own eye. It is not important that we concern ourselves with the speck in our brother’s. And it is impossible for us to put our brother right before we have dealt with our own shortcoming.

As a 15 year-old, I went on a ski trip with my youth group. It was a special trip in part because our new senior pastor decided to tag along at the last minute. I thoroughly enjoyed his company through the trip until one night, while play Spades, Ryan called me out on my cheating. I was, at first, indignant … and quick to point out others issues. That is, I was careless in who I was following, clueless in how I was leading, prideful in my position, and cloudy in my perception. Fortunately, he stayed for several years and invested in me to the point where I followed his lead.

Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.

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