Given the emphasis upon spiritual formation and discipleship in my preaching and teaching, a question I’m asked from time to time is: “Okay, so what does a fully formed disciple of Jesus look like?”

There are many ways to answer this question. I believe it’s important to focus on both who we are (core values) and what we’re able to do (core competencies). In this blog I want to focus on the latter category of discipleship earmarks—ten abilities I believe all fully devoted disciples of Jesus should (over a lifetime) seek to acquire. These ten core competencies are:

  1. An ever-increasing ability to cultivate and nurture a personal, intimate, dynamic relationship with God through the development of a daily devotional time involving such spiritual disciplines as Bible study, prayer and private worship. (1 Tim. 4:7-8; Luke 5:16; Matt. 6:3,6,17; Acts 17:11; Ro. 15:4; 2 Tim. 3:16-17)
  2. An ever-increasing ability to actually obey the Ten Commandments and the moral teachings of Jesus, especially those contained in his Sermon on the Mount.  (Luke 6:46; Matt. 7:12-27; Ro. 8:1-4)
  3. An ever-increasing ability to cultivate a healthy, functional family life that contributes to the spiritual nurture of fellow family members and provides onlookers with a winsome witness for Christ. (Eph. 6:4;  Tit. 2:1-10)
  4. An ever-increasing ability to represent Christ in the neighborhood, on the job and in the community in such a way as to edify fellow believers and to encourage the unchurched to take another look at the claims of Christ. (Matt. 5:13-16; Col. 4:5-6; 1 Thess. 4:11-12)
  5. An ever-increasing ability to explain and defend the Christian faith to those who are either curious or confused about its true meaning. (1 Pet. 3:15-16; Titus 1:9; 1 Tim. 4:16)
  6. An ever-increasing ability to lead spiritually hungry seekers into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and to help these new believers become established in their own Christian walk. (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 2:37-39)
  7. The habit of attending church services on a consistent, regular basis, doing so not merely as a consumer/spectator but as a participant whose three-fold responsibility is: to worship God; to encourage fellow believers in their walk with Christ; and to contribute to an environment that makes it easy rather than hard for spiritual seekers to connect with Christ and his church. (Heb. 10:25; 1 Cor. 14:24-25)
  8. The ability and willingness to use one’s spiritual gifts to minister God’s grace to fellow members of the body of Christ (i.e., body ministry—service to fellow church members beyond the general call to encourage one another). (1 Pet. 4:10; Ro. 12:4-8)
  9. A willingness to cheerfully provide consistent, generous prayer and financial support for: (a) the local church as it endeavors to make and mature disciples; (b) the cause of world missions; and (c) the cause of worldwide hunger and disaster relief . (2 Cor. 9:6-8)
  10. A willingness to become personally involved in the local church’s compassion ministries to the poor and powerless living nearby (i.e., a commitment to pray and work to see justice done and mercy demonstrated in the name of the Lord). (Pr. 14:31; 19:17; 21:13; 22:9; 28:27; 29:7; 31:9; Micah 6:8; Matt. 23:23)

So how about it? Could you stand to grow some in one or more of these areas of Christ-following competence? What would your walk with Jesus be like if you were doing really well in all ten of these discipleship abilities?

Now it just so happens that I’m writing this blog in late December. Thus, it’s only natural for me to suggest to my near-term readers that perhaps one of these discipleship earmarks might be the focus of a high-quality New Year’s resolution.

Then again, it’s not just at the turning of the years that we can and should engage in some serious soul-searching regarding our walk with Christ, is it? That said, I want to suggest that no matter what time of the year you read this blog, it’s appropriate to allow the Holy Spirit to rivet your attention on one or more of the core competencies listed above, and to motivate you to really begin praying about and strategizing toward its acquisition. And, as you do, keep this thought in mind: For a variey of reasons, Jesus wants you to possess these ten abilities even more than you do!

Something to think about.