Because of our desire to grow and succeed, we can often become too focused on the techniques and tools required for us to reach our goals. We can easily forget that our calling to do is an extension of our calling to be.
It’s understandable. You’re probably a high achiever interested in personal growth because you want to become a better version of yourself and fulfill your goals. And this means, delivering results!
I tend to fall into this trap myself. And so about once a month I have to evaluate my life to correct course and make sure I’m focusing on being––the person I’m becoming, my character––more than doing––the actions and techniques I use to get there. But it's easy to fall into the "doing" trap. After all, isn’t a disciple only as good as his or her walk with Jesus? One can’t be a disciple in name only. You have to do the things a disciple does in order to really be a disciple, right?
The Call To Be a Disciple
While a disciple does follow Jesus, and is defined by the relationship that walk entails, there is something even more fundamental that makes you a disciple.
You are called to be a disciple.
For disciples of Jesus Christ, there is nothing more important than the voice of God calling us. His call bestows upon us our identity as a His children. Through His call, we become the people we were meant to be. Because of his calling, we are given the opportunity to follow Christ.
Before we can leave our fishing nets by the bank of the lake to follow Jesus, He must first call us. Before we can embark on the lifelong journey of growth to know Jesus and become more like him, He must first call us. Before we can take up the task of daily spiritual discipline, He must call us. Before we can preach the gospel, heal the sick, and expand the kingdom of God, He must call us.
You may be tempted to interject here, “But doesn’t being a disciple obligate us to do the things mentioned above." And it’s a reasonable thought because we’ve been trained to think primarily about the things we do. How many times have you thought or heard someone say something like, “If you want to be a good Christian, then you need to read your Bible and pray for an hour every day.”
And yes! Being His disciple means we have to obediently leave our old lives behind and begin following Jesus. This means we will act in such a way that is consistent with the calling on our lives. But our calling first and foremost is not to do something. That would make salvation a work of our strength. Instead, when Jesus calls us to follow Him, He invites us to be. To be changed. He calls us out of our old lives and changes our identities.
When Jesus called the disciples, they were no longer fisherman. And when you answered His call you were transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. You are no longer an accountant, a teacher, a nurse, a husband or wife, or even a parent. Your identity rests solely in his calling for you to be His disciple. And it is from this new identity that all the others flow.
Techniques are Good, Mindsets are Better
When you are able to develop the mindset that you really are a disciple––called of God to be His son or daughter and a co-heir with Christ––then you will naturally begin to act in such a way that is consistent with a disciple’s behavior. It won’t feel foreign to you. And you will adopt the disciples’ lifestyle easily.
Think about it like this: What if you found out tomorrow that your parents were royalty and that you were heir to the throne of your own country (I know… It’s similar to the plot of Princess Diaries...). It would drastically affect how you thought about yourself and how you acted towards others.
There would be a brief adjustment period to get over the shock of the massive change that had just taken place. You would probably be excited and eager to learn all you could about your new identity and your knew role as a future monarch of your own country. And as you adjusted and learned, your behavior would continue to change. You would no longer act like you lived in a small 3 bedroom house. You will be living in a palace. You would recognize that you would never want for money again. All your physical needs had just been provided for for the rest of your life. How could this information not change how you lived?!
And so the doing part of following Jesus is an outflow, a result, of our new identity in Him. Our calling, which transforms us and re-creates us, naturally leads us into doing those things that demonstrate the inward change that’s taken place in our lives. Following Jesus is the fruit of the seed of his calling. And it manifest itself in every aspect of our lives from how we practice the spiritual disciplines to how we conduct ourselves in the vocational path He’s directed us to.
All of our efforts lead to following Him more faithfully, growing deeper in our relationship with Him, and becoming more like Him in character. So develop the mindset to be, and the techniques to do will follow naturally and be far more effective.
Get Started Developing the Disciple’s Mindset
If you want to develop the mindset of a disciple, then you need to first, believe and accept that you are a disciple. Your identity was changed the moment you accepted the call the follow Jesus. Second, recognize that it’s not the works you do that make you a disciple. They are the outflow of who you are in Christ.
Here are three things you can do to help you embrace your identity as a disciple of Jesus Christ:
First, if you’re having trouble accepting this, spend some time meditating on the call to follow Jesus. For the next week (or maybe longer if needed), set aside some time each day to simply be with God. Don’t set an agenda. Don’t feel like you have to pray for something specific or read something in your Bible. I’d suggest having a journal handy so you can write down any insights or revelations the Lord may speak to you. But just simply allow yourself to be with God and His grace to fill you and meditate on what it means to be called as His disciple. To be His son or daughter.
Second, after you feel you’ve started to grasp the splendor and joy of being called as a disciple of Christ (this processes never truly ends, and is one of the joys of being a disciple), you should share this article with others on social media. Not only will you be publicly acknowledging your identity as a disciple, but you will be reaching out to others and helping them develop the mindset of a disciple as well.
And third, if you really want to develop the mindset of a disciple, you should share this directly with a friend and ask them to join you on this journey of being a disciple. Christians weren’t meant to walk alone, and the more you can walk with someone else for strength and support, the more you will both grow in your walk with Christ.