In an ideal situation, when someone receives Christ, they would be followed up in a personal way to be grounded in the foundations of the Christian life. The next step would be ongoing discipleship, which they would eagerly engage in, developing personal habits of Bible study/reading, prayer, etc., and then go on to witness to the lost and disciple others.
Unfortunately, many people aren’t eager to invest time and energy into their own spiritual growth…so it seems that there needs to be a way to determine those who are eager, and focus our discipleship energy into them.
“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men, who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim 2:2)
The Apostle Paul’s first criteria for investing time in others was that they were reliable. The idea of entrusting carries the thought that what you are entrusting is very valuable, and those you disciple can be trusted with the valuable thing you are passing on. The subject of what you pass on (the things which Paul passed on to Timothy) is biblical teaching, which includes doctrine, character instruction, etc.
The second criteria from 2 Tim 2:2 is that they “will be able to teach others also.” This establishes the precedence that the normal pattern of discipleship will include reproduction into others who will then reproduce into others as well.
In the past, we’ve used the acronym F.A.T. (faithful, available, teachable) to describe those who should be selected for discipling. Through discussion with our staff team, we’ve chosen F.I.T. (faithful, intentional, teachable) as our criteria, because it reflects our desire to develop spiritually FIT disciples who will reproduce in the lives of others.
How do we determine faithfulness, intentionality, and teachability? Observation! Have they been devoted to the disciplines and habits that will help them grow closer to Christ? Things like personal devotions, regular church attendance, involvement in a men’s group or other small group? What about serving – have they followed through in areas where they serve? What about their attitude toward learning, even when it comes through a confrontation? Implied in the ability to make this kind of assessment is relationship. A F.I.T. person has taken steps to get involved in the opportunities presented through the church, and you’ve connected with them relationally and had the opportunity to observe their attitudes, behaviors, and choices.
As men and women called to “Go make disciples of all nations…”, we need to engage in loving relationships with other Christians, while always having our radar up, looking for those who are F.I.T. If we are going to follow the biblical pattern of discipleship, let’s prayerfully and intentionally select F.I.T. people to disciple who will go on to disciple others.