What's Discipleship Have to Do With Leadership?

So often when we think of discipleship we think of coffee meetings and challenging conversation. After all, the disciples themselves were just a bunch of guys who sat around and talked with Jesus.


Well, yeah, kind of. If you forget about all the travelling they did, all the parties they went to, all the people they worked with, and all the miracles they worked. Oh wait...

I'd wager to say the Bible very rarely records times in which the disciples just met up to talk with Jesus, their "mentor." They talked over dinner and at feasts, and they talked when they were out in the field and things came up.

In fact, the people who just came to hear Jesus speak weren't even considered disciples, they were followers. The term "disciple" was reserved for those who lived life with Jesus.

So why, when we think of discipleship, do we think mostly of coffee and weekly planned meetings?

Those things aren't wrong. I meet with an older woman in my community regularly to talk about life and ask her about hers. It's great. 

However, I have learned a lot more about how I want to live my life through how I've seen her live hers than I have through what she's said.

I've seen her organize events, I've seen her parent her kids, I've seen her respect her husband, I've seen her juggle work and family life. These are all things gained through time spent together, just living, not meeting up to chat.

What does this translate to for us as leaders?

Perhaps we spend time reading books or talking to people who are farther along than us. That is an AMAZING first step. But it's only a first step.

Entering into real discipleship, even in the workplace or professional life, is like opening up an entirely new world of knowledge and learning to yourself.

Grant Skeldon in his interview with Benji talks about the four areas of a person's life you can follow: family, work, church, and personal life. The idea is that a person you courageously request to mentor you, opens up one area of their life for you to follow them in. For Grant and one of his mentor's, it was joining an older man in his routine of running.

I think we've all had a situation where we talked to someone to set up some sort of mentorship, and then it fell through due to schedules, inconvenience, or emergencies. It's hard, leaders are busy and it can be difficult to squeeze one more hour into our busting schedules.

But the proposal here is, as Grant says, to ask your mentors not to add you to their calendar, but to include you in their calendar. Follow them in something they're already doing.

Chances are, the person you've so boldly asked to mentor you has qualities you desire that you saw through the way they live their life. So doesn't it make sense that you should be a part of their actual life if you want to gain that knowledge from them?

If you want to learn to be a better leader, work with a great one. If you want to learn to be a better business person, join a great business leader's team. If you want to be an amazing mom, help a current mom watch her kids now and then.

The key is community and relationship. It takes bravery to approach someone for discipleship in the first place, and it takes even more grit to follow through with it in intentional ways.

But the benefits are unbeatable. I think most people would love to have the wisdom of those older than them. The only way to get that is to get around it. 

The people in the top of their field, those with the most influence, those with the most success, didn't get there by themselves/ Chances are, they had a mentor. Chances are, they did a lot more than talk.

I want to challenge you this week: who is someone in your life, maybe even barely in your life, more just around it, that you admire and aspire to be more like? Dare to ask them to include you in their calendar?