Does the idea of discipling someone intimidate you? Are you worried about “getting it right”? Instead of concerning yourself with following a multi-step program, picture yourself having coffee with a younger woman. While you’re sipping on lattes together, you simply tell her the story of what God has done in your life. That is discipleship. You see, we make disciples for Jesus by sharing our stories as just one part the grand story God is writing. As others join us, the process of making disciples continues and grows exponentially.
The apostle Paul modeled storytelling as discipleship. He was a remarkable disciple maker, and he did it without formal programming or buildings or fancy events. He simply kept sharing the story of God as found in the Scriptures as well as his own story. And the gospel kept moving forward. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul spent a lot of time encouraging Timothy to adopt storytelling as his method of discipleship. Paul knew that his days on earth were limited and he wanted to pass on his wisdom to Timothy, a man who had become like a son to him. His counsel to Timothy was basically this: remember what you’ve heard; pass on what you know; ground your story in the Scriptures; trust God to do the work.
First, Paul instructed Timothy to remember the story he had been told: “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:13–14 niv). Timothy needed to hold on to, to guard, to keep believing the story of Jesus that he’d been taught so his faith could continue to thrive and grow. He must never forget the grand story of redemption in Jesus. Second, Paul told Timothy to pass on what he knows—to become a storyteller! “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2 niv). Paul wanted Timothy to entrust this precious story to others who would continue this process of storytelling. Paul didn’t want the story to end. Timothy needed to train others to share their stories, and then they would teach others to share their stories, until the world was full of people who shared their stories of faith in Jesus.
A third and important thing Paul wanted Timothy to know was that Christian storytelling needs to be rooted in the truth of Scripture: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16 niv). When we share our stories of faith, we point to the truth of the grand story of the Bible—God’s goodness in creation, the fall of humanity into sin, the saving person of Jesus Christ, and the re-creation that is coming when Jesus returns. Our stories are powerful because they are anchored in the Scriptures, which are completely inspired, accurate, and truthful.
Finally, Paul reminded Timothy that, as he passed on the story, he could trust God with the results. Timothy needed only to be a faithful messenger. “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2 niv). Paul told Timothy to be prepared to share, correct, rebuke, encourage, and teach, without worry about the outcome.
Paul’s lesson to Timothy is a great lesson to us. God is calling us to remember the story that has been passed down to us—to become storytellers who pass it on to others. He’s calling us to ground ourselves in Scripture, and to leave the results to Him! This is the way we become storytellers who are disciple makers.