10 Reasons Church Leaders Should Admit It If They’ve Never Been Discipled

It’s tough to admit, but I was a local church pastor before anyone truly discipled me. Sure, I grew as my Sunday school teachers and pastors taught me, but still I needed a disciplemaker to take me under his wing. It’s even tougher to admit that I didn’t always invest in leaders myself, so I often had church leaders who themselves were not discipled. I’m convinced, though, that all of us who were not discipled need to admit it and start on a strategic journey of discipleship. If that’s your situation, here’s why this admission matters:

  1. Your story is not unusual. Over the years, I’ve met far more undiscipled people than discipled ones. I sense that pattern is changing, but that still leaves many of us longing for help and growth. There’s nothing wrong with being honest about where you are.
  2. If you’re undiscipled, that’s not where God wants you. God wants us, especially as leaders, to move past the milk of the Word to the meat of His Word. He wants us to be growing – and that process takes intentionality. God is glorified as we are transformed to be more like Jesus. 
  3. You’re missing out if you’ve not been discipled. Something happens when we learn to love God more, devour His Word more, and pray to Him more often. There’s an unexplainable joy in really knowing God.
  4. Your work will be easier when you’re growing as a disciple.  Church work is not easy. It takes effort and patience. It demands a godly spirit. To do God’s work well, we need to know Him more and more each day.
  5. Your leadership will be more godly. I’ve met many Christian leaders whose Christian walk is weak. The more you know them, the more you wonder about their discipleship. Often, these same folks will admit that no one ever invested in them. Strong discipleship helps address that problem.
  6. Your church will grow stronger as you’re discipled. God’s church is people – sinful people, yes, but people who should be in the process of becoming more and more Christlike. God honors and blesses that congregation that intentionally helps each other follow Him.
  7. You’ll have opportunity to admit and overcome your weaknesses. You might be like so many other believers who hide their weaknesses and carry the weight of their sin alone. The more a person becomes a leader in the church, in fact, the less likely it is that he or she will admit failures. That’s carrying a burden you don’t have to carry if you’re in a discipleship relationship. 
  8. Others will recognize your growth. When God really works in even the holiest life, other people take note. When He moves in our life, our loved ones and friends will take note that something’s different. The door will be open to being a Great Commission witness.
  9. Somebody wants to walk beside you. If you’re honest enough to admit it if you’ve never been discipled, I’m trusting that some leader in your church will be willing to invest in you. If you’re a pastor, I’m trusting that you'll help your members find a discipler. And, if you're a pastor in need of discipleship, I trust that some other pastor in your area will help you grow. God will provide somebody.
  10. Honesty is a first step toward victory. Being honest might be painful, but it could also be the first step toward integrity and growth. Admit where you are, church leader, if this blog post represents you.   

If you’d like us to pray for you, let us know.


  • M.A. Hayward says:

    Chuck, I greatly appreciate your ministry and insights. This particular issue has been on my heart for a long time. I serve as the lead pastor in our church, I haven’t really been discipled in the pastorate (my pastor stepped down, gave two weeks notice and promptly fell off the map. I was called as interim and ordained a year later, but never really had anyone walk with me in leading a church), I readily admit it, and could really use your prayers…

  • Felipe Leiva says:

    Hey Chuck, thx for the post… I also think discipleship is relevant because Jesus did it so his people were prepared to preach and lead the church… But I was looking up and I haven’t found a precise definition or a list of basics that should be accomplished, and I have the sense that everyone has its own definition about it, can you enlighten me a little?
    (sorry for my bad english, I know mostly how to read and talk, but i’m not good at writing since I’m from Chile)

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Basically, discipleship is the process of helping persons become more like Jesus. It includes elements of being, doing, and knowing. This is going to sound really self-serving, but you might look at the section on “Discipled Dave” in my book, Membership Matters, for more details. Thanks, Felipe. 

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