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I always check the expiration date on the milk carton, which made it a sickening surprise when I drank the soured milk! I knew it was not polite, but my natural reflex overruled my etiquette. I like milk, but it has an expiration date.

Technology is amazing, but every time I think I have the fastest computer or smartest phone, I see an advertisement for one that makes mine obsolete. Most of the products we purchase today are not engineered for long-term use because a short life-span is acceptable. I like gadgets, but they have expiration dates.

What about people and discipleship relationships–should they come with expiration dates? When we say we are discipling someone personally, what does that mean in light of a time investment?

Should discipleship relationships be viewed the way we do service contracts on appliances? Shouldn’t the discipleship relationship be different? The “Correct” answer is “Yes.”

Here are some guidelines to consider in evaluating your discipleship relationships:

  • Don’t commit if you are not committed. This is not double-talk, this is straight talk.
  • Define the expectations of the discipleship relationship in advance. Some mentoring relationships will go deeper than others. There is a difference in holding a friend accountable for being on time to a meeting each week and genuinely doing life together in discipleship.
  • Determine systematic evaluation points. Periodic evaluation of personal progress in a discipleship relationship is vital. Pre-set evaluation points will aid in motivation and take some of the sting out of correction if it is necessary.
  • Defensive attitudes will nullify the discipleship process. Transparency from both partners is required for a discipleship relationship to be profitable.
  • Depend on the Spirit of God to lead in the discipleship relationship. Ask the Lord to connect you with the right person(s) for this journey. The discipleship relationship should not be entered into lightly. The process of “Reproducing Reproducers” is a privilege and responsibility of every believer.

Discipleship is more than a process, it is a relationship. Things have expiration dates, but discipleship relationships have eternal potential.

How has a discipleship relationship affected your life?

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