Real Life Discipleship: Passing on the Torch

I was reading the old Jewish story about Elijah and Elisha today, where the protege gets to see the old prophet go up to heaven, and starts to do all the cool tricks that his mentor used to do.

As I read it, I started to think about all the people over my life who have invested in me, who have taken some time out to notice something in me, talk about it, push me forward, pray for me, encourage me. A whole load of people: Henry, Kate, Claude, Stephen, Steve, Jo, Andrew, Dave, Toby, Rich… names to you, massively significant people to me. The list goes on, there’s people now who are still doing the same thing. Encouraging me, investing in me, helping show me what God is like, and what I could be like. As I thought about them I became profoundly grateful to them, and to God for putting them in my way, and how they’ve helped me get where I am.

Then I started to think how fun it was that I get to do that too, that one day I might be in someone else’s list of names. And of course I thought there might be a few ways I could begin to do that better.

To me, that is what discipleship and apprenticeship is. Spotting people, making space for them in your life, investing in them and saying “follow me, as I follow Jesus.” I know the phrase has been used and used this year, almost to the point of redundancy, but I’m going to use it one more time: it’s passing on the torch.

So, do you want to grow as a disciple, a leader, as someone who can influence others and make life better? Look out for people who can invest in you. Find relationships with people you can serve and learn from. Mentors and leaders, be pro-active about seeking them out.

And keep an eye out too, for the people who are looking at you and might want to learn something from you, who might need a bit of your time.

We’re all followers, and we’re all leaders.

Ben lives in Deal, in the far south-east of England. He is married to the beautiful and talented Helen and they have two children.  Ben and Helen have been involved in leading missional communities for the last 12 years and are particularly passionate about seeing the emerging generations discover God’s love.   Right now they are working for a church in Deal while Ben is also training for ordination.  You can connect with him more at