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Don’t Even Think About Discipleship Until You’re Doing This First

Photo of Joanne KraftJoanne Kraft | Bio

Joanne Kraft

Joanne Kraft is a nonfiction author and national speaker. Her passion is for women to catch the Titus 2 vision of discipleship. Author of The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids and Just too Busy — Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical, she’s a frequent guest on Focus on the Family, Family Life Today and CBN. Her articles have appeared in ParentLife, Today’s Christian Woman, In Touch, P31 Woman and more. Her newest venture is her podcast Grace & Truth Living, helping women to trust and follow Jesus in their everyday life. Joanne and her husband, Paul, once lifelong Californians, moved their family to Tennessee in 2012. They’ve happily traded soy milk and arugula for sweet tea and biscuits. Check out for more from Joanne.

Discipleship. You’ve heard the word tossed around quite a bit lately and you’re probably wondering just what it takes to get involved in this kind of relationship. Should you ask your pastor for help? Is there a podcast you can listen to, a blog you can read for answers, or maybe a “Discipleship for Dummies” handbook that walks you step by step from start to finish?

If you’re stuck in your world of analysis paralysis, may I gently suggest starting where every life-changing disciple maker starts?

Reading the Word.

Here are some verses that accentuate my point.

  • All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). 
  • Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105). 
  • But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’'”(Matthew 4:4). 
  • For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). 
  • For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4). 
  • Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). 
  • But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night (Psalm 1:2). 
  • Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him (Proverbs 30:5). 
  • The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward (Psalm 119:7-11). 
  • Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?” (Mark 12:24). 

The DMV requires teenagers to have at least twenty-two hours of practice in a vehicle before handing them a license for the open road.

According to the FAA, before you can be considered for a job as a commercial pilot, you need to log over 1,500 hours of flight time before taking a seat in the cockpit. That doesn’t even include the years of training on the ground before you make that first solo flight. And, if you want to be a captain, expect to spend over 5,000 hours in the air.

You want to be a part of discipleship? There’s training that will grow you like no other sermon series. Begin by getting to know God through His Word.

According to Pew research, almost 6 in 10 US adults believe that the message of the Bible has transformed their life. You can’t begin to disciple someone without it. Don’t even try. Another survey by Lifeway discovered only 32% of Protestant believers read their Bible daily, and the majority were over 50 years old.

We spend close to six hours of our day experiencing leisure activities like Instagram, Facebook, and Netflix binging.

If you spent 15 minutes a day in your Bible, in one year’s time, you’ll log an estimate of 23 hours in the Word. The average cover-to-cover read of the Bible takes approximately 70 hours and 40 minutes. So, just fifteen minutes a day may not be enough, but it’s definitely a start!

Reading the Bible Just Four Times a Week

The American Bible Society has worked tirelessly to create some of the best research for Bible engagement. According to their research, read your Bible just four times a week and you’ll begin to see results.

  • Loneliness drops 30%
  • Anger drops 32%
  • Bitterness drops 40%
  • Pornography drops 61%
  • Alcoholism drops 70%

If that’s not enough to convince you, check out what their research says is increased with daily Bible reading:

  • Stagnant faith turns around by 60%
  • Evangelism increases 200% (yes, that’s two-hundred percent)
  • Discipleship increases 230%

Bible readers make the best disciple makers.

Just like those riveting emergency announcements on a commercial plane before takeoff, the principle is the same: Before you disciple another soul, you need to grab the oxygen mask yourself before you can help a younger person beside you.

Helping others grow in their faith is the most exhilarating, life-giving opportunity this side of Heaven and it’s only through His Word that we begin. God allows imperfect people like you and me to be a part of His work. We get to be the ones in someone’s rooting section, encouraging them, passing along Living Water at certain hard places and cheering them on to their finish line.

Creating a habit of spending time in the Bible is the best way to exercise your disciple making muscles. Don’t begin to help others grow without growing yourself.

The Holy Spirit is more than faithful to show you something about God’s character or the saving grace of His Son that will spark a great conversation with the one you are discipling. God’s Word is truly life-giving.

His Word is what’s needed to begin helping others. So don’t be lazy about your faith. I cringe over things I didn’t know years ago when I began. There’s no greater leader than the one who serves from experience. I can’t begin to tell other women to make time for the Word if I’m not in it myself. To do so is called hypocrisy and no one wants a reputation like that.

Bible readers make the best disciple makers. 

You don’t have to know all the answers, but you need to be the one who leads by example and seeks to find answers yourself first. The most influential disciple makers are the ones who are fluent in God’s Word, so when those oxygen masks drop you can grab yours and help others begin breathing again, too.

Do you still want to encourage others to trust and follow Jesus? Do you believe God has changed your life and you want to help as many people as possible to know what took you awhile to figure out? That’s fantastic! We need you! But, how serious are you?

Your Bible reading habits will shine the brightest light on the truest answer to that question.

(For more from Joanne, check out Used with permission.)