Philemon had one key quality which helps us to be flexible within biblical boundaries. It also helps prevent discipleship becoming dry or boring. Paul’s gratitude for Philemon was due to the way Philemon treated believers. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you (Philemon 1:7). Philemon was a “refresher.” Below are some practical ways that help keep discipleship fresh, and disciples refreshed.
- Do not allow discipleship to become a painful burden. Be gentle, pleasant, and loving. Smile often.
- Meet regularly. Be flexible. Change locations and change times. Invite others to visit or join. Do different things in different ways at different times.
- Be soft-hearted – ALWAYS. Be patient and forgiving.
- Read and talk about Scripture together.
- Talk about their daily lives, families, friendships, activities, feelings, temptations, struggles etc.
- Rejoice in their victories. Share in their joys and pains. Laugh and weep together.
- Pray together about each other’s lives.
- Do ministry activities together sometimes.
- Meet their family and friends, be in their lives.
- Encourage them to persevere in growing in Christ.
- Share and learn from each other’s failures.
- Assist them to disciple others.
- Assist with tasks in life which they need help with.
- Have discipleship holidays. Everyone needs a rest sometimes. Have a break, then start again.
Things to resist:
- Never be demanding or legalistic.
- Do not form your own traditions.
- Never be emotionally cold, distant, or harsh.
- Do not make impossible demands of them.
- Never be unloving or unforgiving. Show grace.
- Do not try to do all this at once, 😊 it takes time.
Prayerfully prepare yourself for doing discipleship, asking God to make you effective like Philemon was. These are just some of the practical ways in which Christ’s character flows through us into those we disciple. Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart (2Co 4:1). Persevere!