When I was growing up my dad used to take me to my hockey games. He taught me how to skate, how to shoot the puck, and the rules of the game. Over the years, he was an assistant coach, a manager, and just a spectator; but the end of every day, he was still my father. I remember when Kathi and I learned that we were expecting our first child. We were in the process of remodeling our bathroom and I had gone outside to throw away some trash, I walked back in and Kathi pointed to the wall. It read: “I’m pregnant!” At first I was kind of in shock, because if she is pregnant, that means that I am going to be a father. I had never been a father before...
I had been a son and a brother, but never a father. I had watched my dad and learned from him, but I had never been a father myself. I never really understood what it meant to be a father until I had a child. When Josh came crying into this world, I felt the burden of being a father. I have continued to be a father to him as well as to my daughters Sara and Katie. My father didn’t quit being a dad when my three children were born either. He continues, to this day, to be my dad, but he has added the title of grandfather. In fact, I will continue to be a father for the rest of my life just like my dad will continue to be a father for the rest of his life. As my kids grow, I will grow with them. We will learn together, explore together, and cry together. No matter what happens, I will always have a father and be a father, and my children will always be my children even when they have children of their own.
When I gave my life to Jesus, I became a disciple and as I have grown in my faith, and I have become a spiritual father to others. Being a disciple is not a one time commitment, it’s a lifelong journey. When I became a father, I became a father for life. When I became a disciple, I became a disciple for life. I’m responsible for both being a disciple and being a spiritual mentor to others. Jesus says: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:7-8
This passage describes four characteristics of a disciple. First, a disciple remains in Christ. The New Testament does not teach perfection, it teaches process. We grow as we immerse ourselves in God’s message to us, for Scripture is the very heartbeat of God. Second, a disciple is obedient to Jesus. There is no discipling without training and there is no training without accountability. God wants our love, and that love is demonstrated through our obedience to him. Third, a disciple bears spiritual fruit. If a person remains in Christ, is obedient to his teachings with his lifestyle, spiritual fruit will be produced. You can recognize a disciple by the results she produces in her lifestyle and in the lives of others. Spiritual fruit is applied love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness to various life situations. Fourth, a disciple glorifies God. We glorify God by living out his teachings in our day to day lives and in the way we influence others around us. These characteristics should be evident in the lives of every disciple and spiritual mentor who is educating, equipping, encouraging, and empowering others to do the same.