Discipleship – The Art of Growing Others


One of the things that stands out in the Gospel accounts is the fact that Jesus chose then spent time with twelve men who came to be known as the Twelve Disciples. The word, disciple, which Jesus used, means ‘student’, ‘learner’, ‘apprentice’ or ‘adherent’. In other to be a disciple, there must be one who teaches that which a disciple must learn.

Jesus was the teacher and the twelve were His disciples. They learned from Him as He walked the face of the earth.

The Great Commission from Jesus states in Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples…” The key verb in the commission is to “make” disciples. Hence, as followers of Jesus, we should be in the business of making disciples or training up fellow believers to be more like Jesus.

The Book of Proverbs mentions how we can learn from ants (Proverbs 6:6-8 and 30:25). There is much we can learn from God’s creation, especially from ants.

Research has revealed that worker ants sacrifice time and efficiency in order to teach other ants how to find food.

“When a female ant goes out to find food, she will often choose another ant to accompany her. If the second ant doesn't know the way to the food source, the leader will teach her through a process called ‘tandem running’.  As the teacher runs along the path to food, the student follows behind and will often stop to locate landmarks; creating a gap between herself and the leader. When the student is ready, she will run forward and tap her teacher on her back legs.

This process is extremely beneficial for the student. Ants participating in tandem running located a food source in an average of 201 seconds, while ants searching for food on their own took an average of 310 seconds (a 35 percent difference). However, the process is detrimental to the teachers. Research indicated that the lead ants traveled up to four times faster when they were not accompanied by a student.”*

This is often the case when someone decides to train up someone else. The process is slower and filled with trial and error. The disciple or teacher could accomplish or do so much more if they just did it themselves.

Such was the journey of Jesus. He painstakingly trained up His disciples on the way to the cross. So much more could have been done in his three years of ministry if He didn’t have the burden of training the disciples.

Last year, our family went to Mammoth. One of the goals was to teach the children how to fish. It was a slow and tedious process. We fished one Lake for four hours. The ten kids caught almost forty fish. The final fifteen minutes I got to fish and caught five because I was no longer spending time helping and teaching the kids.

So why do ants train up other ants, why did Jesus spend time training up His disciples and why did we labor at teaching our kids how to fish?

It is done because the practice of growing others is beneficial for a society or community as a whole. If Jesus did not train up the disciples, the gospel would not have spread around the world.

Allow me to end with a question. Who are you helping to grow in life?

Something to think about…


*Sam O'Neal, St. Charles, Illinois; source: Bjorn Carey, "Ant School: The First Formal Classroom Found in Nature," Foxnews.com (1-13-06)*