7 min. to read.
Have you ever learned from a master? Maybe you took music lessons from a maestro or someone great in your field mentored you.
When you learn from a real master, you learn information, but there’s more to it, isn’t there? You also learn a host of indefinable things – attitude, posture, vocabulary. You see who they spend time with and how they spend that time. You learn what their priorities are.
This is the process of apprenticeship: learning practical wisdom from a master. When Jesus called his followers “disciples,” this is the kind of relationship he was talking about.
The New Testament knows nothing of a kind of Christianity based on beliefs alone that never expresses itself in actions or a changed life. Following Jesus, as an apprentice, means learning from Jesus how to lead my whole life.
So, how do I do that? I mean, I can’t just sign up for an internship down at the office.
How can you follow Jesus as an apprentice?
I want to offer you seven commitments I have seen in the lives of people who are serious about following Jesus, and who have a vibrant spiritual life as a result.
Note: This is not a list of Dos and Donts. That ends in legalism. It’s fruit is a dry experience, marked by obligation and self-righteousness. That’s not part of following Jesus.
I’m also not going to give you a set of steps and say that everyone has to march through these steps in exactly the same way. God meets you where you are, bringing healing and transformation in the order God determines is best for you.
Following Jesus is not a program.
If you are serious about learning how to do life from Jesus these commitments will shape your choices. The expression of these commitments may look different from person to person, and in different seasons of life. But I’m convinced that these commitments remain at the core. I’m going to go deeper on each of these commitments in coming posts, but here’s a brief overview.
Commitment 1 – Decide
Apprenticeship starts with a decision. We decide Jesus is worth learning from, quite simply, that he knows what he’s talking about. This is different from deciding we believe Jesus is God and accepting salvation. There are a lot of people who want to use Jesus to get to heaven, but don’t really trust that Jesus knows what he’s talking about when it comes to living life. Dallas Willard called them Vampire Christians, who only want Jesus for his blood.
A life-changing apprenticeship to Jesus starts every day with this question: Today, will I be taught by Jesus?
If you answer yes to that question, the way you live that day is going to change.
Commitment 2 – Learn
The second of the commitments is to learn. That’s the whole point of being an apprentice, really. We commit to learning about Jesus and Jesus’ teaching as deeply and intimately as we can. In John 8:31 Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Commitment 3 – Let Go
The third commitment of an apprentice is to let go. Once we’ve decided we trust Jesus to guide us and we’re actively learning His teaching and character, next we stop holding back certain areas of our lives.
Following Jesus is about our whole life. It isn’t just about religious activities. Religious activities are the smallest fraction of your life. Jesus wants to shape your relational life, your financial life, your emotional life. Jesus wants to change the way you think about your body, your time, your politics and the people who live next door.
Commitment 4 – Practice
The fourth commitment of apprentices of Jesus is to practice. Maybe this sounds crazy, but we actually do what we learn from Jesus about life. In the way you treat people, in the choices you make, in the attitudes you have, we practice Jesus’ way.
Be clear. This is not an obligatory list of things you do to please God. Because of God’s grace, we don’t have to earn anything. Yet we still do things. Why? Because this is how we learn. It’s how we grow. It’s how we bless and serve others. It’s how we partner with Jesus in the Great Commission, bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to life in the world around us.
Commitment 5 – Pray
The fifth of the commitments is to Pray. Talk to Jesus about your life. Do it every day. The apprentice relationship is a two-way conversation. The master teaches. The apprentice learns and practices. But they also talk. The master corrects and challenges. The apprentices asks questions.
Commitment 6 – Enroll
The sixth commitment of an apprentice of Jesus is to enroll. When you choose to follow Jesus, you become a part of something bigger than yourself. The New Testament calls it the Body of Christ, the gathering of all those who follow Jesus.
Most often today we call this gathering the church. I don’t mean the building or a denomination. I don’t mean a specific church event. The church is the people on mission together with Jesus.
Our apprenticeship brings us into this community where we serve and are served, where we learn and grow, where we experience faith in a community that stretches back to the Upper Room.
I know church is a complicated thing. There are preferences and politics and all sorts of rough edges. As an organization, we tend to get stuck. The institution has done embarrassing, even terrible things. I know. I get it.
Yet Jesus called us together into a body. As a body we share Jesus’ mission in the world. As a body, we are called to help one another grow.
Commitment 7 – Mentor
The final commitment is to become a part of the apprenticeship chain. In 1st Corinthians 1:11 Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” This is the model of apprenticeship. Jesus leads the way. We follow Jesus. Along the path, we get practical guidance from those ahead of us, and we share what we’ve learned with those behind us.
One of the biggest obstacles to spiritual growth is feeling isolated and alone. We all feel it at every stage of the journey. We break the hold of isolation by spending time with other people, sharing our stories, and growing together.
Is that all?
There are piles and piles of other things you can do that will help you know Jesus more. There are endless books, classes, programs, spiritual disciplines and practices that you can include your life.
But that’s the problem. There are too many choices. The net result is that most of us do very little, and slowly over time our life as followers of Jesus calcifies. We don’t grow. We don’t change. We don’t make a difference for others.
That’s not what you were made for. Jesus has invited us to walk with Him, to share His mission in the world. Jesus has offered us an apprenticeship where we can learn from Him how to do our lives.