Why the Disciple’s Apprentice?

A medieval baker with an apprentice

An apprentice®, defined in the most simple form, is a learner. Every learner needs a tutor or teacher; in the vernacular of apprenticeship, that would be a master or a journeyman. Formally, an apprenticeship was the art of passing down skills, wisdom, and knowledge to a younger protégé, allowing the craft or line of knowledge to continue. Apprentices build their future from an apprenticeship. The training of an apprentice is hands on, in the practice of the craft under the wise guidance and instruction of a master.

Discipleship as an Apprenticeship

Within the Christian worldview, defined with the scriptures, a disciple is someone who is a follower of Jesus (often referred to as master). They are learners who bear the tactical resemblance to the master (Jesus), adopting a lifestyle and character traits of their master.

Since we do not have Jesus, nor the first disciples walking corporeally on the earth, we pass down the learning by generation. Apprenticeships are sometimes, though not exclusively, experienced father to son. Unfortunately, not all fathers follow Christ, not having adopted the character of the son of God or a desire to do so.  In this paradigm, while not ideal, it is not an insurmountable challenge. In guilds, master craftsmen taught others who were not their children. In Christian discipleship, mature followers of Christ often teach others who are not related to them. In this way, discipleship and apprenticeship share similarities.

I was not discipled by family members, but rather by faithful men along my path, who agreed to impart wisdom and tutor me along the way. These men (Marc Y., Jim B. and Bruce H.) all gave of their time and talent to mentor me along my way.

Understandably, I am not perfect, nor am I a master. I definitely have gaps in my life experiences where the Christ-like way would have been better than what I experienced or chose. In those gaps, I am dependent solely on the scriptures and God’s Holy Spirit in me to help me guide my son, my apprentice.

Thankfully God has given us a cloud of great witnesses and His Holy Spirit dwelling in us to guide our path. Using these helps, I am bearing the responsibility, in the full view and correction of my heavenly father, tutoring my son towards mastering the art of bearing Christ’s image in all that he does.

My reading of scripture leads me to believe that my son’s mastery will not be in this short lifetime, but after the new heavens and new earth. Until then, I will journal here my thoughts and insights as I imperfectly tutor my apprentice.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
(Ephesians 6:4 ESV)