I am a goal-oriented person. I am a sucker for lists, check boxes, and sticker charts. When my middle school Sunday school teacher created a point system for disciplines such as Bible reading and scripture memory, I was in. SO in! How could I lose? I would make God happy and make my teacher proud. Added bonus: a little treasure box full of Jesus loot. I fixed my sight on a little burgundy New Testament. And I got busy!
I started reading a devotional and my Bible daily. I memorized scripture KJV-style. I attended church religiously (pun intended). I brought in coins that I earned or found in the sofa. I tracked my point balance like I track my checking account the day pay day hits. I don’t remember how long it took me to get that New Testament, but I remember how very proud I was the day I brought it home. Shiny gold lettering. Crisp, thin pages. The words of Christ in red.
While my motivation was a little off back then, the habits I developed have stuck with me. I have been a Bible reader since middle school. I rarely miss a church service. I have scripture I want to memorize posted on little index cards around the house. I give off the top every pay day.
I attribute the roots of my spiritual growth to that point system. My life has been completely altered by consistent and continual walking with my Rabbi. Like the 10 disciples who hid in the shadows during Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, I have strayed from my routines. But, it has been a mainstay in who I am for most of my life. Because I am convinced of it’s life-changing benefits, I want to help other women to establish the disciplines of a disciple.
Mrs. Disciple 101: The Disciplines of a Disciple
A disciple is a learner. We can learn how to be more like Christ, our Teacher, by following his example and the example of the disciples in the New Testament. The syllabus for this course includes the disciplines of a disciple.
Bible Study. A disciple spends time with her Teacher. We cannot walk on the dusty path with Jesus as the 12 did 2000 years ago. But, we have God’s Word, his complete word from the beginning to the Revelation. To read and study the Scriptures is to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn.
I meditate on your precepts and consider you ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. Psalm 119: 15-16
Prayer. A disciple interacts with her Teacher. Through the priesthood of the believer (1 Peter 2:9), we have direct access to God. Spending time talking with God through prayer, listening to his response in the quiet of meditation, is the privilege and responsibility of every believer.
Obedience. A disciple practices what she learns. To hear the truth, then ignore it with our actions is foolish. Jesus not only spoke the truth, he lived it every day.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action. (James 1:22-25, The Message)
Scripture Memory. A disciple commits her Teacher’s words to memory. The words within the covers of our Instruction Manual are precious and powerful. It is important that we meditate on them and carry them with us wherever we go. You may already have this one “hidden in your heart”: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
Giving. A disciple is generous with her resources. The early church “gave to anyone as he had need” (Acts 2:45). We have time, talents, and gifts to share with others in the name of Christ.
Community. A disciple walks with other disciples. The disciples formed the original small group. Jesus sent his disciples out in twos. The early believers devoted themselves to fellowship (Acts 2:42). Support for the disciple is found in community.
Sharing. A disciple becomes a teacher. The men who walked with Jesus began to instruct others. Jesus gave us this command as he ascended to Heaven.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19
That list can seem overwhelming. And can I confess something? I am still trying to rack up points. I tend toward Phariseeism (I know that’s not a word, but I think it should be). I like to check spiritual disciplines off my list, same as I do my chores. When I take that approach, they become just disciplines, and not spiritual disciplines.
So, let’s go through these slowly and carefully over the coming weeks. A new year is near–the perfect time to start new habits for a better life. We can walk with our Teacher, learn from him. Not just to get some Jesus loot from the treasure box, but to become more like him.
The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. John Maxwell