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What Does It Mean To Be a Disciple?

The definition of a disciple is a student, a learner, and a follower. Considering this explanation, would you say that your life models being a disciple of Jesus through your speech and actions? Jesus’ renowned final words on earth were The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), outlining how we truly walk as disciples of Him. In simpler terms, it shows us that all believers are called to know Him and then to make Him known among all people. In Greek, “baptize” is defined as being “dipped repeatedly, immersed, submerged,” the same word used in an ancient recipe for pickles. 

So, when we read in the Bible that we are to be baptized and to baptize others, we can envision it as being pickled. Just as a cucumber is immersed and submerged in brine, becoming more pickled with time, so do we, as disciples of Jesus, immerse ourselves in seeking the Lord through His word, prayer, and active obedience. The more time we spend with the Lord, the more we allow His Holy Spirit to “pickle” us. We transition from being a cucumber to being defined as a pickle. How does the Holy Spirit “pickle us”? We ask Him to continue submerging us in His holiness and righteousness daily (Romans 8:9-15, Titus 3:5). We yield to Him and walk in obedience to all that Jesus has commanded us through His word. 

It’s vital to grasp this concept of discipleship as it paints a picture for others to either know God for the first time or deepen their relationship with the Creator. What an incredible opportunity Jesus invites us to partner with Him in.

The Call to Discipleship 

The call to discipleship involves yielding to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and allowing His Holy Spirit to transform us into His likeness (Ephesians 5:1-2). He invites each person into a relationship with Him. He teaches us through His Holy Spirit (John 15:16). Just as a chef carefully prepares and mixes ingredients for pickle brine, the Holy Spirit deliberately and lovingly instructs us on how to resemble Christ. We must allow Him to do so. One of the initial steps in the “pickling” process involves not only accepting Jesus as Savior but inviting Him to be Lord of our lives (Romans 10:9-10). 

Being Lord of our lives entails surrendering our mind, will, and emotions to Him and seeking the Holy Spirit’s desires aligned with Jesus (1 Peter 4:2-4). As we acquaint ourselves with the Spirit of God, He stirs us to action, prompting us to share what He has taught us with others. This can involve discipling believers for deeper understanding (Proverbs 27:17) or boldly witnessing the Gospel to those who haven’t encountered Him yet (2 Timothy 4:1-5). 

Saul’s transformation in the Bible, from a persecutor of Christians to a disciple named Paul after encountering Jesus, illustrates this process. Paul led churches, evangelized, and engaged in one-on-one discipleship. Timothy, influenced by Paul, adopted this example and impacted others significantly. We see that the call of discipleship doesn’t stay stagnant in one’s life but passes on and inspires others to walk out in boldness and to lead others to meet Jesus! 

Learn about YWAM Lancaster’s Discipleship Training School

The Cost of Discipleship 

In Luke 9:23-24, Jesus is clear that being His disciple requires denying ourselves and daily taking up our cross. What does denying oneself entail? What does it mean to take up our cross daily? It demands relinquishing our rights and allowing the Holy Spirit to search, convict, and reveal how He desires to partner with Him daily. From that point, we hear him, and then we obey. It is the greatest way we can show Him that we love him. Luke 14:25-33 shows us that when it comes to following Jesus, the cost is high. It means that we must give up everything, but it is from the revelation that He gave everything for us that we willingly give everything for Him. 

The cost of denying yourself can look many ways: it can look like asking the Lord to show you how to use your money rather than what you would want to spend it on. It requires you to love your enemies and those who are always irritating you. It means praying for those people and blessing them rather than gossiping and complaining behind their backs. It means we give up our right to grumble about situations that frustrate us and our right to hold on to unforgiveness. It means that we die. But it is in our death that the beauty of Christ comes alive in us. On the other side of counting the cost, we find great joy in our lives! For in our death, we find life, we find our Father, we find peace, we find hope, we find freedom. 

A good father watches over his children and teaches them how to live; our heavenly Father does the same for us and teaches us how to deny our fleshly desires that bring death to find true life. He gives us infinitely more than the price we pay to follow him. The journey of discipleship is never a promised easy life. There will be hard times that we walk through, but the Lord promises not to leave us. We can trust that He is preparing us in advance to face challenges. He does this by speaking to us and revealing our identity in Him. He shows us that we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:28-39). He gives us grace that when we are weak, His power is made perfect! 

The Fruit of Discipleship 

The greatest benefit of being a disciple of Jesus is that He becomes our friend. In John 15:15-17 Jesus shares that we are no longer called servants but friends, for we did not choose Him but He chose us so that we would bear lasting fruit. He goes on to share that the Father will give us anything we ask in His name. What an exchange the Lord gives when we yield to Him! 

As we grow into the image of Christ, we begin impacting others’ lives by following the new command to love people (John 13:34-35). We see that the fruit of discipleship is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control in our lives which are all things that are expressed outwardly to others. The fruit of discipleship is to love others and this brings the Father glory (John 15:8).

Growing as a Disciple 

No matter how long we follow Jesus, we will always be a disciple of Him, and if we continue to yield to the Holy Spirit and His ways, then we will always be growing into His likeness. The Holy Spirit desires to be our Helper (John 14:26). He helps us by teaching us how to pray. He brings conviction into our hearts to live a holy life. He gives us wisdom and revelation of His word (Ephesians 1:17) as well as showing us how to walk out in fear of the Lord (Proverbs 2:1-5; Psalm 25:14). A practical step to see sustained growth in your life is to set apart time each day to meet with Him. Get alone in a place where you won’t be interrupted, and invite the Lord to lead your time with Him and reveal through His Word what He wants to speak to you that day. 

As you read, He may teach you how to pray scripture, give you words of encouragement for people you know, He may lead you into intercession (standing in the gap on behalf of others so that God may intervene). Another key to growing as a disciple of Jesus is community. The twelve disciples are just one example of the necessity to walk with other believers. They challenged one another, kept each other aligned with the truth, and they were there for each other in difficult circumstances. We are able to grow as disciples on our own, but often our growth is hindered if we remain isolated from other believers. We were created for relationships and need encouragement and accountability from others to see growth. Likewise, those around us need us to walk with them just as much as we need them. As we meet with God and are transformed into His image, we are given authority to speak into the lives of others and to walk with them.


To be a disciple of Jesus simply means that we keep His commandments, take up our cross, and follow Him. It is a joy to get to know Him and make Him know. You will not regret pursuing discipleship with a zealous heart to continue even when going gets tough. 

We invite you to come and take your next step in the discipleship journey here at YWAM Lancaster! Come do a Discipleship Training School (DTS) that will inspire you to live a life of hearing the Lord and obeying His commands. Click here to view 10 common questions about DTS.

Apply for YWAM Lancaster’s Discipleship Training School Today

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The Discipleship Training School is for anyone wanting to be equipped for impact. Practical, personal, powerful, this 6-month intensive missions training will provide you with tools, focus, and real-life experience to fulfill the Great Commission.

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“… (DTS) showed me that this life isn’t just for me to live but to bring other people in this relationship with God.” 

– Kephas, 2016 DTS

“It was extremely encouraging in my walk with the Lord because my identity and calling were being solidified and called out.” 

– Kailey, 2016 DTS

“God has reminded, reaffirmed, and reoriented me in a number of areas. “Prioritizing” turns up the spiritual volume in your life.”

– David, 2016 DTS

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