The Scriptures do not call us to evangelize and convert – they call us to "make disciples." That's what Jesus asked his original followers to do – and he still asks that from us today. Make disciples.
Apprentices. We are to be apprenticed to Jesus himself. We are his disciples. Followers. This is how we find life – to believe in, follow and love the ways and person of Jesus the Christ.
But we seem to get confused as to how that's done. We can go to church. Better yet, actually be involved in one. We can read and study the Scriptures. We can pray. All needed if you're going to know who it is you're following. But we also need others in our life that intentionally "disciple" us. To be our mentors. Teachers. To walk with us and pass on the things they've learned to us.
It's 2 Timothy 2:2 stuff. Paul says "The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men and women who will also be qualified to teach others."
This is what I do. I am like Paul. I help people follow Jesus. But I'm also like Timothy – in need of a Paul. In fact, I'm such a slow learner that God has graciously given me many such Paul's in my life. Some I've known personally, while others I've learned from vicariously through their writings.
Over the next days, I'd like to tell you who they are and what I've learned from each one. I will give you the "Top Five" who have taught me through personal interaction and then the Top Five who I've never met personally, but have taught me much.
And may this encourage you to be both a Paul (teaching others to follow Jesus) as well as a Timothy (being taught to follow Jesus).