What are your goals for discipling others? Is it head knowledge or life change? Is it book knowledge or a deeper relationship with the Lord? Your goals matter if you have built your discipling strategy to deliver on your goals. But too often people finish their discipling and lack competence and confidence. Allow me to explain.
A common mistake in discipling is to assume that our disciples can do what they see us doing the first time. It is rare that telling or showing results in competence the first time. In fact, the way to ensure our disciples understand is often by asking them to repeat the words and/or the actions. Repetition by our disciples is usually the best way to help them gain competence.
This may be in small or large areas of our discipling strategies. It can be in teaching them to pray ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication). It may be helping them to grasp how to use the Bible to do an exegetical study (think of Philip with the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8).
Competence may be gained in the way we involve our disciples in our discipling sessions. We may design our session time together to help our disciples practice or exercise the new learning. We may then assign that new learning, and we may review the assignment when we get back together. Check out Disciple with R.O.P.E.S.
If our disciples do not gain competence in what we teach them, they are unlikely to practice it alone. And more importantly if they lack competence, they are not likely to teach it to others. A failure here, can cripple our discipling strategy.
Some individuals have an abundance of confidence, some lack it, and others have it in certain areas. Competence builds confidence. Explain why something is important. Show them how to do it. Have them practice it. Assign it. Then review their homework, asking how it went and if they had questions.
Why and how are both important. Sometimes we assume our explanations and demonstrations helped our disciples understand both, but they may have created confusion instead. Questions with encouragement allow our disciples to feel comfortable learning and understanding fully. When our disciples learn how and why to do new things, they gain confidence that will enable them to repeat what they are learning–on their own and when discipling others.
Competence and Confidence
When you teach with these two goals, it impacts the content, method, and outcome. When your disciples gain competence and confidence they desire to share what they have learned. That knowledge and skill translate into an ability to share what was learned.
When they teach others what they learned, your disciples gain even greater competence and confidence. That is one reason why I advocate for leading your disciples to pray for and begin discipling others while you are still discipling them. You become the coach and can literally see your disciples blossom.
Don’t rush your discipling. Allow your disciples to gain repetition and conversation about every facet of your discipling efforts, especially Bible study and prayer. Help them gain competence that will lead to confidence that no one or nothing can ever take away. Make disciples!