On Discipleship

The other night I was listening to Notker the Stammerer’s book, The Life of Charlemagne, on my Audio Books app.

In case you were wondering, the book is not narrated by Notker the Stammerer.

Notker died like twelve hundred years ago, they didn’t know how to digitally record audio then, and besides, I’m guessing from Notker’s name that he stammered. It was a difficult time.

So, I’m listening to the book and learn Charlemagne was discipled by Alcuin, who was discipled by Bede.

As a student of medieval history, I had heard of all three, but I did not know they were all connected by discipleship relationships.

Bede the Venerable, an English monk, was considered the most learned man of his time. He wrote nearly sixty books at a time long before typewriters, word processors, or the printing press. Alcuin of York was also English but became the leading scholar in Charlemagne’s court in Aachen (today, Germany) and through Charlemagne helped spawn the Carolingian Renaissance.

Of course, discipleship was not a new concept. Jesus discipled John, and John discipled Polycarp. Polycarp was martyred in 156 A.D. under Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, but was so cool in refusing to sacrifice to the Roman pagan gods, that we are still talking about his martyrdom 2,000 years later.

John Calvin, another one of my favorites, discipled John Knox, who brought Reformation to Scotland and, at the risk of his life, preached the gospel to Mary, Queen of Scots, and ultimately wth the help of the conviction of the Holy Spirit brought Queen Mary to tears.

I was first discipled by a guy a few years older than me when I was in college. He was a musician, singer, and a country boy. I was a college athlete and a city boy. But he knew God. So, I pursued him and began to hang around him. From him I learned what it meant to walk with the Lord and how to hear His voice.

When I was in law school, I was discipled by my pastor. He was an evangelist. I was amazed at how easily he shared the gospel with people. I wanted that, so I sought him out. He began taking me to play golf with him. I would watch how he loved on people and developed relationships. He taught me how to love the lost and share the gospel.

As an adult I was discipled by another pastor. He had been one of the wealthiest and most successful businessmen in the city before becoming a pastor. I was fascinated by his leadership ability. So, I sought him out. he and I hung out and did life together. I watched how he led, and I learned what it meant to be a leader.

In each instance, I saw something of God in another’s life that I wanted in my own. As the Apostle Paul said, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” I Corinthians 11:1. That is what I did with each person who discipled me.

You don’t get discipled from the pulpit or a podcast. Discipleship is personal. It has to be, because for discipleship to occur there must be an impartation. True discipleship happens when the discipler imparts part of who he or she is to the person being discipled. That is why Jesus said a disciple is not above his teacher, but he will be like him when he is fully trained. See Luke 6:40. A discipler can only impart who he is.

It is really up to you whether you will be discipled. I identified people who had a part of God that I wanted in my life, and then I sought them out. What I got from them I never could have gotten from sermons or books. What I got from them was a part of God that was a part of them. GS