What does discipleship look like in marriage?
The first question that needs to be answered is "what is discipleship?" Discipleship is the process of one person helping someone(s) become a lifelong follower of Jesus. We see in Matthew 28:18-20 that Jesus commands His disciples to “Go” make disciples:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
What does that look like? Simply:
Teach them to obey all that I have commanded you.
Discipleship is learning how to obey Jesus and teaching others how to do the same.
So, what does this look like in Marriage?
As we talked about this past Sunday, marriage is a relationship like none other, something unique and special.
Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways. You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
Your relationship with God doesn’t just impact your life; it changes your spouse (making "Your wife like a fruitful vine"). It’s for your children (making them "like olive shoots"). We have to recognize this is something to actually invest our time and energy in. The fruit of discipleship is definitely worth it.
Discipleship within marriage is not limited to a 1 or 2 hour time limit. It is a lifestyle: the day in, day out rhythms of life. The question for each spouse is, "How am I helping my spouse obey Jesus?"
Here are a few practicals in helping each other mature in God and obey Jesus.
1. Spend time with God together in the morning.
(Discipleship point: stay connected to Jesus.)
One of the most helpful things about being married is you constantly have someone holding you accountable. Alex and I wake up before our kids so that we can spend time with God in the morning. Waking up at 5:30 isn’t easy, but when you have your spouse there kicking you to get out of bed, or turning on the lights, it helps. We usually have our own ways of spending time with God in the morning, but both typically include some Bible reading, worship, and prayer. We will come together for a time at the end to pray together. Make prayer a regular part of your life together.
2. Foster a "Same Team" Mindset
(Discipleship point: loving rebukes and correction.)
You and your spouse are on the same team. Cheer and celebrate one another. Don’t become their biggest critic. In discipleship with your spouse you want to spur one another on in God rather than beat them over the head with the Bible and force them to obey Him. When we have a same team mindset, we more naturally confess, challenge, forgive, and lovingly rebuke one another. To give you an example, the other day I raised my voice to one of my daughters when I shouldn’t have. Alex corrected me gently and said “Jase, that was a little strong, tone it down”. I needed the correction, but Alex did it in a way that I wasn't made to feel like a loser but was encouraged to repent to my kids and move on.
3. Go make Disciples.
(Discipleship point: becoming disciples who make disciples)
Not only can discipleship happen within your marriage but you have the opportunity to challenge and encourage your spouse to make disciples as well. Ask your spouse: "who is someone that you can initiate with and help them learn how to obey Jesus?" Again, you get to hold your spouse accountable to following through with initiating with that person.
If you have no clue where to get started, I’d encourage you to download the Discipleship App by Antioch Community Church on your phone and go through some of the lessons and questions. The purpose of discipleship is not becoming the most knowledgeable Christian out there but rather a person who is connected to Jesus and learning how to obey Him.
About the Author: Jason serves as the connections pastor at Antioch Ann Arbor. Jason loves helping people discover who God is and who they are in Christ. He is usually next to one of his four prettiest girls on the face of the earth (his wife or three daughters).