8. Discipleship: The Number One Leadership Responsibility for Christians

As a leader, it’s so easy to think of your leadership responsibility being limited to the workplace… but what if I told you that your faith requires leadership too? Welcome to episode 8 of The Heart of a Leader! In this episode, we get to look at what I believe is the most important and foundational leadership responsibility: Discipleship. At the end, I’ll offer you five ways to make discipleship an intentional part of your life. But first, let me share with you how discipleship impacted my life.


Discipleship Has Made a Huge Impact on My Life

There have only been a handful of men who have made a substantial, positive impact on my spiritual development.

  • Pastor Manny

  • Louie Pratile

  • Mark Omran

  • Don Jagers

  • CJ Johnson

  • Victor Copan

  • Jay Palompo

  • Norm Deguzman

I found out just last week that Norm passed away at the beginning of September. On October 2nd, I was able to celebrate Norm’s life. Naturally, his impact has been on my mind. When my Air Force career ended, I wanted nothing more than to be a youth pastor. So, I moved to Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2010 to earn a degree in Biblical & Theological Studies. But that was short lived, because I moved back to Hawaii after my second semester in order to marry my wife, Laura. I loved my time spent studying scripture and apologetics, but I realized two things: 1) there’s no money in youth ministry and 2) youth pastors don’t need degrees. You see, when Jesus gave the great commission to his disciples, he didn’t say,

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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. But first, earn a Master of Divinity from a private Christian university…

No. He said, “behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” I realized that I didn’t need a degree; I needed a church that discipled its members. Thankfully, Laura had begun attending just such a church. As I finished up that semester at PBA, I moved back to Oahu and fell in love with a community of believers that would forever change the trajectory of my life: Island Grace Church. IGC was special. Where many Christians see the command to make disciples solely as a call to convert more people to Christianity, the leadership at IGC made sure not to stop there. They had, and still have, an intentional focus on discipleship as a long-term relationship. After a couple months of attending Island Grace, the leadership team gathered together and discussed which one of them felt most connected to and felt called to disciple me. Norm stepped up and chose to disciple me. He came to me one day, told me what was discussed and asked if I’d allow him to disciple me. Norm was one of those guys who I admired, respected, and trusted with my full, unadulterated self. Norm took me, this newly married, young husband, and invested his time and energy into me. We would meet regularly to discuss all aspects of my relationship with Jesus. He welcomed me into his life and treated me like a little brother. We did life together. He and his wife, Christy, even chose to provide marriage discipleship for Laura and me. Together, they taught me some of the most important, foundational lessons on marriage that not only set us up for success in the beginning, but lessons that still impact our lives today. As it turns out, I only had a year with Norm in Hawaii, but the positive impact he’s had on my faith and marriage can be seen even today. Like Jesus, Norm saw a young man and called him out to make him a disciple of Christ. Norm chose me.

Discipleship is More Than Sharing the Gospel

The reason I tell you that story is because we often relegate leadership to this role we have in our careers. We think that leadership is something we do within an organization. But to limit leadership to such an isolated area of life is to do it, and the world, a great disservice. If you’re a Christian, like myself, I believe our most foundational leadership role is discipleship. Nothing is more important. That doesn’t just mean that we go out and tell people the good news of how Jesus lived a perfect life in order to be the ultimate, final sacrifice for our imperfections so we could spend eternity in relationship with God. We should definitely do that! But if that’s all we did, that wouldn’t be leadership, it would be Human Resources, marketing, and sales. Discipleship, the process of coming alongside someone who isn’t as far along their faith journey as you are and guiding them through life and closer to Christ; that’s leadership!

Here are Five Ways to Disciple Others

If you already have someone discipling you and you’ve committed to discipling others like we’ve just discussed, that’s awesome! I’m so happy that you’ve made discipleship a priority in your life. But if you’re like most of us and you have some room to grow, allow me offer you five ideas on how to make discipleship an intentional part of your life

  1. Look around and prayerfully consider who God has placed in your life to disciple. Ask them for permission to start a discipleship relationship.

  2. Invite them into your life.

  3. Ask them questions to teach them. Be curious.

  4. Hold them accountable

  5. Encourage them to disciple others.

If you do these five things, I believe you will have a richer life with far fewer regrets. There’ll likely be a point in your life where you’ve realized there are less days in front of you than behind you… When that day comes, will you regret not working more hours and making more money or would you regret not investing into the lives of others through the relationships you’ve been given?

In this episode:

Matthew 28


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*Cover image photo by Spencer Davis on Unsplash