THE INCREASE: Jordan Matthews — True Discipleship

True discipleship is about encountering the Spirit of God. Good teachers and mentors are those whom you can tell don’t want the attention or recognition, they want it to be completely about Jesus.

You see the same thing with parenting. When a parent is instructing their child out of their own guilt or fear from the past, the words they say aren’t truly genuine or convincing. What they say is going in one ear and out the other. In the same way, you can tell when Godly instruction is Spirit-led — it draws you in. The discipler isn’t trying to get anything from you, but simply and desperately wants you to experience the Holy Spirit’s presence.

The best way to be discipled or to disciple others is to open God’s Word and read it. Recently, I was in a study where we sat down and just read four chapters straight in the book of Revelation. I had never done that before, except in my own quiet time. And even then, I usually read a bit of the Old Testament, a bit of the New and a psalm or proverb. But it was a powerful experience to sit down and dive into this passage together with no interruptions and no personal opinions. It was strictly the Word of God speaking truth to us. Everyone was impacted by this experience; we could really feel the Spirit moving in the room.

This is a powerful formula for small group discipleship. Let’s get people together and dive into Scripture just like Jesus did. Then let’s pray together in the Spirit, just like Jesus did. And finally, let’s go out and serve together, while teaching others what we’ve gathered from God’s Word, just like Jesus did. We might not know all the logistics of the night, such as if we’ll have food, how long we’ll stay, or what we’ll talk about, but when we believe God is going to show up and guide us, we’re going to experience more of Him.

I often tend to overthink how I’m going to disciple others, but I’ve discovered that the most critical things I can do for them is read God’s Word, be intentional about praying for them and with them, and then live out my faith, because I know they’ll be watching to see if this Jesus thing really is what I live my life by. If I follow these steps, I don’t have to worry about the results. The Spirit will do the rest.

I think too often we focus on goals that may be too lofty. We want to impact a ton of people, we’re drawn to numbers, and think about big impact coming from us being on stage. We think that if we just say what’s on our hearts and what’s been powerful for us, everyone will be changed. But no one on this earth is the same. God speaks to us in different ways and grabs our attention in unique areas. What hits you as truth may need to be seen through a different avenue for someone else. What people need is a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit. They need to experience Jesus’ love for them.

As I’m going through the New Testament right now, I’m seeing so many side conversations between Jesus and His disciples. These men witnessed everything He did for three years — every miracle performed, every act of love, and every word spoken — and yet they still didn’t have it all figured out by the end of His time here on earth. However, we know eventually they did understand the bigger picture because they ended up dying for what they believed.

If Jesus Christ, the Son of God, walked with imperfect humans for three years, performed miracles and never sinned, how much more time should we invest in discipling others? We, who are imperfect and are reaching out to imperfect people, need to realize that this ministry takes time. God’s Word tells us, “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you” (Romans 8:11).

Whoever it is you have been praying for or pouring into, give it time. If you have been waiting for the opportunity to dive into the Gospel with someone, be patient and continue to pray for them, making sure you yourself are remaining as close to Jesus as possible, so that you can reflect His love to them. You don’t want to hinder anyone’s closeness to Jesus, but rather help it move in the right direction.

— Jordan Matthews, New England Patriots wide receiver

The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit for more stories and videos.