Can a person begin disciplemaking before he himself is a Mature Disciple? The answer to this question is emphatically, “YES!” He or she does not have to wait. If the four requirements stated in our last blog post are present, one can be a Disciplemaker long before one becomes a Mature Disciple.
If a person is becoming a Mature Disciple (i.e., wholeheartedly following Jesus and engaged in intentional disciplemaking into his or her life) and if this person can cast that vision to someone else, then that person can begin being a Disciplemaker for anyone coming up the trail behind him.
This is shown in this next diagram by the several “arcs of reproducing” that start at various points and reach back to different points on the path to spiritual maturity.
An infinite number of such arcs are possible. The key is that the person has unquestionably crossed the threshold (represented by the lowest dashed line) to wholeheartedly following Jesus and is on the trail to becoming a Mature Disciple (represented by the highest dashed line).
So I would contend that one can begin to be a Disciplemaker and not yet be a Mature Disciple.
But how about the other way around? Can one claim to be a Mature Disciple and not be a Disciplemaker? What do you think and why?
I would say, “No.” Why?
Well, Jesus added the Great Commission as the last command or qualification for what it means to be His Disciple. So I cannot cross the threshold from becoming a Mature Disciple (i.e., receiving disciplemaking into my life) to being a Mature Disciple until I have begun to disciple someone else (i.e., giving out or investing disciplemaking into another’s life). I can’t “graduate” until then. I can’t “get on the boat” of true Discipleship until then, because intentionally making disciples is part of Discipleship. Making disciples of others is part of the life voyage of a Mature Disciple in Jesus’ Disciple-ship.
So being a Disciplemaker is inherent or implicit in becoming a Mature Disciple. I’ve tried to illustrate this in the following diagram, where I have shown MATURE DISCIPLE => DISCIPLEMAKER.
By writing it this way, I want to convey that being a Disciplemaker is a necessary condition to being a Mature Disciple. However, being a Disciplemaker is not a sufficient condition to being a Mature Disciple, since, as we’ve seen, one can begin discipling others before he himself is fully discipled. There is more to being a Mature Disciple, as we’ll see later on this blog, so hang in there with me.