Jesus is our exemplar for anything worthwhile in life. This is no less so for discipleship. We are called to make disciples.
"Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations..." - Matthew 28:19
It is logical then to look at how Jesus made disciples and use the principles we find in our own discipleship efforts.
1. Jesus chose those who were willing to learn.- He didn't chase people down in an effort to convince people to follow Him. He looked for those who were willing to set aside preconceived ideas, personal ambitions, etc. and learn in a spirit of humility. We too should focus our energy on those who express a sincere interest.
2. Jesus did not neglect the others.- The above is not to suggest He ignored those who were casual seekers. He preached to the masses, with the understanding that not all of them would respond to His message. While we should focus our energy on those willing to learn, we should still be available to those who are, at this stage, a casual seeker or even a skeptic.
3. Jesus stayed with His disciples.- They did everything together- ate, traveled, studied, sang, slept in the same home or even outdoors. He got to know His disciples intimately enough that they were His friends. We should expect to get to know those whom we disciple. This means investing time. Teaching a disciple isn't a part time job, it is a full time relationship. We need to make ourselves available and really get to know the new disciple. Jesus gave Himself to His disciples.
4. Jesus required obedience.- Disciples need to be aware of the cost of discipleship. It means giving up your "self rights", and accepting the demands of the Gospel in every area of life. We should expect those we disciple to obey the scriptures as they gain more light- more data. We should be ready and willing to both give praise where it is due, and correction when necessary. The principle the new disciple must understand is that obedience to the Gospel is the proof of their love.
5. Jesus showed them how to live.- He taught them how to understand and use scripture, how to pray, how to evangelize, etc. We must be the example of the Gospel we claim to live! Teaching by example is one of the most effective tools in discipleship. This means class is always in session. Think about that.
6. Jesus assigned work to His disciples.- He modeled the method, gave them instructions, expected them to adhere to his methodology, and then sent them out to share His message. We should be ready to give assignments appropriate to the new disciple's ability that encourage their faith and sharing of the Gospel.
7. Jesus kept check on His disciples.- He continuously reviewed lessons with them, taught them the application of His lessons with patience, and did not allow them to rest in either successes or failures. We too must encourage new disciples by constant review, feedback, and applications lessons and not allow them to become complacent at whatever level of spiritual development they are currently experiencing. There is always more to learn and more to do.
8. Jesus expected His disciples to reproduce.- He expected them to make every attempt to save the lost from eternal suffering. We must be imbued with the Holy Spirit, be committed to Jesus' program for winning souls and teach the new disciples to do the same.