For the last few months, the Olympic torch has been travelling across Canada as it makes its way to British Columbia for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Torch bearers all across the country have carried the torch for a certain distance, and when they reach the end, they pass the torch on to the next person to continue carrying on the task.
It's like that for Christians as well, only we call it discipleship. A disciple is a follower of a person, and in Christianity, that person is Jesus Christ. It follows then, that Jesus was a disciple maker. Each of the 12 He handpicked, in turn, also became disciple makers. In order to become a disciple maker, we need to first be a disciple. We can see this in other ways in our lives as well: parent/children relationships, coach/players relationships, teacher/students relationships, and the list goes on. These disciple makers teach their disciples how to do what they need to do to fulfill certain roles. The disciple maker role in the previous examples would be the parent, coach, and teacher; the "disciples" would be children, players, and students.
In my small group/Bible study this week, we finished discussing 1 Kings 19. The verses we looked at were from 15 to 21, which talked about Elijah passing on the torch (so to speak) to Elisha. Elijah, the disciple maker, anointed Elisha, the disciple, to follow in his footsteps. Elisha would be anointed as prophet to carry on in Elijah's place (vs. 16).
Normally, when the Bible is talking about anointing, oil would be used; however, in this case, Elijah used his mantle, or cloak, as a means to anoint Elisha (vs. 19). By anointing, Elijah is giving authority to his successor. This does not mean that Elijah lost his authority, though. He was just elevated to another level.
By becoming Elijah's disciple, Elisha would be spending time with him, helping Elijah, or maybe doing things for the man (maybe he prepared Elijah's meals, for example). We don't know at this point exactly what Elisha was doing, but we do know that he followed Elijah and became his disciple. He would, afterall, replace Elijah as prophet.
The thing about being a disciple, is that it doesn't always look as though we are learning. A disciple spends time with his/her teacher, regardless of what is being done. In other words, it doesn't matter what you are doing. Remember the movie, The Karate Kid? There is a scene from it where the teacher has the student waxing his car (the "wax on, wax off" line is famous). The student thinks he is only waxing the car and doesn't understand that what the teacher is doing is preparing him.
When we are being discipled, it might not look like we are learning anything, but we are actually learning to be a disciple maker ourselves. We see this in the New Testament with Jesus and his 12 disciples. They spent time with their Disciple Maker, and by being with Him and doing what He asked, these men learned how to be disciple makers. Jesus commissioned them to go into the world and make disciples. However, if these men hadn't spent time with Jesus to learn how to make disciples, they probably wouldn't have succeeded in their commission.
It is like that with us today. We might be a Sunday school teacher, an elder or deacon, a mentor to a youth - there are any number of leadership roles in the church. In order for us to pass on the torch, we need to have our own disciples to teach so there will be someone to carry on the role, someone who knows what to do and how to do it.
Pastor J left us with two "questions with regard to being disciple makers, and I pose them to you as well. Let me know in the comments section.
1. Who are you learning from? If you are not learning from someone currently, who do you seek to be with (someone you don't need to make an appointment to see)?
2. Who are you going to "throw your cloak" over and let them be with you? In other words, who are you going to disciple?
If you are unsure of the answers to the above, be sure to pray and ask God to reveal people for you to disciple, or to learn from.