Watching Others Lead

Author - Keyshawn Parkman

As we move past Thanksgiving into the holiday season, we've come across a plethora of new beginnings. Although we've only been here a few months, the opportunity to be part of the Fellowship Team has provided me with extraordinary examples of what discipleship should look like. We sit together and meditate on Jesus' life with his disciples as we experience a similar life model. We've been presented with five different perspectives on what defines a disciple. I'll write about each one weekly as we learn to take on these practices.

Principle #1: A disciple submits to a leader that teaches others to follow Jesus.

In my walk with Christ, I've strived to follow Him. I've learned how difficult this can be. Walking the life of a Christ follower is challenging, especially if you're not surrounded by a community of people with the same focus. By the grace of God, my first taste of biblical community came a few years ago. My pastor invited me to a group he was creating called Monday Night Discipleship. The first few Mondays I attended were difficult. As the youngest man attending, I would often be talked over. The meetings consisted of going over our week, listing ways God showed Himself in our day-to-day life, and sharing scripture so group members could hold us accountable. Finally, we read and discussed the Word of God. This was my first taste of discipleship. I quickly realized the value of accountability, walking with Christ in the company of others with the same heart.

During this season, my pastor's heart for Jesus was revealed to me in a way I'd never seen before. I had a chance to get to know him differently as he led by example during these meetings. His perspective always led people to Jesus and kept Him the main focus. I'd go on to experience a few different discipleship models before I'd end up here at the Fellowship House with stories I'll tell as the weeks go by. Our anchor scripture was/is Matthew 28:19: "Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

Here, Jesus is making it clear that His disciples don't just experience Him for themselves, live with Him, and follow His ways independently, but they are called to pass the teachings of Jesus and His lifestyle and ways to others. Everything that Jesus was, the disciples were commanded to be. Jesus equipped and prepared them by putting His Spirit in theirs and giving them a model to live by for three years! Truthfully, teaching others to follow Jesus is challenging, but a true disciple of Christ recognizes the importance of leading others in the way of Jesus.

A theme for me here has been to learn new things, from how to build a structure to learning how to cook harvest bowls. I've been blessed to be around people skilled in valuable areas that I believe will benefit and help me. I will be able to use some of these skills in my own disciple-making process. For the past few months, all I've been doing is watching and listening to my peers and mentors—each of them has something valuable to pass on. With determination, I've tried and will continue trying to apply what I've learned, as I've experienced my fair share of failures along the way.

I believe this is how the disciples were with Jesus. They discovered the value of what they had in front of them. Through Jesus' revelation of Himself, the disciples learned the urgency of making disciples, people willing to commit their lives to the teachings of Jesus.

The challenge I've faced and will submit to you is recognizing the urgency of what Jesus calls us to in Matthew 28. We need to find leaders in our community who know how to do so. My pastor and the mentors I've been blessed with have been examples of that for me, leading and teaching me how to follow Jesus while also submitting to mentors themselves. Through their leadership and the community they've built, I've recognized the importance of discipleship and the value of Christ-centered leadership. I've taken notice of the challenging task of leading others to Jesus, and my challenge to myself and you who are reading is that if our heart is geared towards growing closer to Jesus and becoming His disciple, we ought to follow and submit ourselves to those who know how to make disciples.

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