We are to make disciples of all people. It is an oft repeated command, but I think often because of the context of the hearing of it (missions) we neglect to recognize that we are to always be doing this.
I am to disciple everyone whom I have an influence on. My coworker, my kids, my boss, my grandma, my mom, my dad, my friends, my pastors. I am to disciple anyone that I have some influence on. That means that I need to be leading and encouraging them through my life and words to live righteously before God. I need to be leading them to learn and grow. I need to be setting an example for them, and prodding them along in the way they should go. Not pushing and shoving or screaming. But by encouraging and provoking to righteousness. Not at my pace, but at their pace – the pace God has set for them.
At our missions conference last February, this was a theme. I have very much appreciated it and I am thankful to the Lord for giving me some understanding of how that is to work in my life. I try to help people around me become better Christians and people. Not in the extent that I am already there – not at all! But, God doesn’t tell the perfect among us to help the imperfect. He tells us all to help each other.
How can you disciple these people though? First, you have to have a relationship. I do not have a relationship with my coworker to tell her that she isn’t bringing her child up right. However, when she is talking about trying to figure out what age her child should date, I could express Biblical principles that I hope to cultivate in my daughters before they begin to date. I can talk with people are discouraged and frustrated with their jobs in a positive way about my job. Not always as an immediate response within the conversation, but if I am truly grateful for my job, then I can show that, and express that thanks to the Lord in front of my friends so that they are reminded (not in a snooty way) that jobs are not guaranteed and that they are gifts from God.
Everyone needs to be discipled. Everyone needs it in different ways, and I cannot help every person with every aspect they need. I can, as the Lord directs, help with the things He has given me the ability to do, but that doesn’t happen if I’m not looking for it. If I’m seeing the command to disciple as applicable to only new Christians and ignore the rest of the Scriptures on the outworking of what discipling means.
We need to view every person, every conversation, every occasion as an opportunity to help someone grow in Christ, even as we look for growth in our own lives from those same opportunities.