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Traits of a Disciple

"Follow me." These words are heard echoing throughout the Gospels by Christ as He encounter people in His life. This invitation to drop everything and follow Christ wasn't just for those in Scripture, but for all of us today! "Follow me" is an invitation for us all to become followers and disciples of the Lord. While all of us are invited to respond to this invitation, at St. Ambrose Parish, we want teens to focus on Discipleship specifically during their High School years. When teens enter High School, they will be invited to continue to grow int heir faith through a Disicipleship moduel rather than regulgalry scheduled classes.

Discipleship is a word that we hear frequently as Catholics but many of us may still wonder, "What exactly is a disciple?" A disciple is someone who follows and spends time with a specific teacher. During this time, the disciple learns from the teacher and begins to module their behaviors the one they are following. The goal of discipleship is so much more than acquiring knowledge from the teacher; it's about acting and living a life like the teacher does. So, when Christ, the greatest of teachers invites us to follow Him and become His disciples, he is actually inviting us to become like Him. What an invitation! But just like any invitation, this one requires a response from the one being called: either yes or no.

If you are willing to follow Christ, you are faced with a simple but sometimes difficult question: "How?" Becoming a disciples isn't something that happens over night or by saying yes only once. Becoming a disciple is a lifelong journey that takes a conscious decision and dedicated discipline. It's so much more than just learning about Jesus; it's about becoming like Jesus. It's not just about education and knowledge; it's about transformation and behaviors. As you grow in your relationship with Christ and become familiar with the way He lived His life, it will become more and more clear how you should live yours. Becoming familiar with the T.R.A.I.T.S. of a disciple is also helpful so you can start taking concrete steps towards a stronger relationship with the Lord. As you take these steps and answer His call to "follow me", He can start transforming you into the disciple He created you to be! 

"Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:27. If we meet Christ, desire to accept his invitation to follow Him and work towards becoming a disciple, we must realize that it takes a conscious decision. You do not become a disciple passively, you become one by making the decision and acting in ways that support that choice. When this is understood, it becomes clear that this isn't a decision that can be made by your parents or grandparents, your priest or even Christ Himself. Jesus is inviting you to follow Him. He desires to have a relationship with you personally, so you must be the one to decide whether you will accept or reject His invitation. Having a relationship with someone takes commitment. It means you are willing to take the time and put in the effort that is necessary to help this relationship flourish. If you accept this invitation to follow Christ, take time to personally reflect on your life, how you're acting and how you can grow as a disciple - then start taking action! 

Personal reflection questions and actions steps to grow in this trait can be found here.

Christ made it very clear that He came not to be served, but to serve others out of love. So if we desire to become a disciple, we must remember that it isn't a call to power but to service. To be like Christ means to serve like Him and to put others' needs above your own. Service is so much more than being a part of service trips and events though. While those things are great, serving like Christ means cultivating a servant's heart within you. It is about constantly putting others before yourself, even when it is uncomfortable, inconvenient or just plain annoying. Christ didn't serve out of obligation and either should you - you should serve out of love and to lead others to Christ. Jesus tells us, "This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:35. This love needs to be rooted in truth, who is Christ Himself.

Personal reflection questions and actions steps to grow in this trait can be found here.

When you truly love Christ and decide to follow Him, you are also accepting His teachings as a way of life. To be a disciple means to accept the teachings of the Master and trust that they are good and true - even if they are difficult at times. Disciples do not get to pick and choose which of Christ's teachings they want to follow and which ones they want to disregard. When that is done, you are putting more trust in your own judgment rather than Christ's. To accept Christ's teachings though, we need to know them! This is why continued faith formation throughout a disciple's life is so important. There is such a danger in thinking that you know enough about God or the Catholic Faith or that you have already "put in your time" and no longer need to grow. When you truly love Christ, you should always strive to know Him and His teachings more fully! By knowing His teachings, you can look at your life through the eyes of Christ and live in the way He would.

Personal reflection questions and actions steps to grow in this trait can be found here.

To keep up a healthy relationship with anyone, you must have regular communication with each other. Your relationship with the Lord is no different; you need to communicate with Him. It's through prayer that we can talk to God and we can do it at any time! Cultivating a prayer life takes effort, dedication and patience but over time, talking to Him and understanding when He speaks to you becomes easier. When you speak with the Lord regularly and work on listening to Him, your relationship will flourish! There are many ways that you can converse with the Lord and becoming familiar with the varieties of prayer can help you strengthen your relationship and communication with the Lord.

Personal reflection questions and actions steps to grow in this trait can be found here.

Through Christ, you have access to the gift of everlasting life! if this is what you really believe, wouldn't you want to share that with others? Our faith is personal, but it isn't private. Christ was sent into the world to lead people to salvation and as His disciples, we are called to follow His lead and continue His mission to do the same. others will come to know Christ if they hear about Him and they will hear about Him only if disciples are willing to talk and share what they believe! Disciples are called as individuals to do His work, but they aren't called to do it alone! God is a community of persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and He desires us to be a community of persons too. The more you surround yourself with others who are following Christ, the easier your own journey will be because you'll have the support, guidance and love of others walking beside you. Building community, just like building relationships, takes a conscious decision, effort and time - but it's always worth it!

 Personal reflection questions and actions steps to grow in this trait can be found here.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by how you will ever or could ever become a disciple of Christ, there is good news! This isn't something you do by your own power or strength - it is something that can only be attained through God's grace! Yes, you need to make the decision whether you want to begin taking the steps toward discipleship but it is through grace that you are strengthened to continue those steps throughout your life. You can receive God's grace in many ways but it is through the Sacraments that you receive a special grace, called Sacramental grace. When someone meets Christ, falls in love with Him and begins to learn more about His teachings and His love for us, they will be drawn to the Sacraments. The Sacraments are such beautiful gifts because they give us the opportunity to come in direct contact with Christ! 

 Personal reflection questions and actions steps to grow in this trait can be found here.

It's so important to remember that discipleship is a lifelong journey and not something you need to complete or accomplished before a certain grade or age. The more this is understood, the easier it will become to view these T.R.A.I.T.S. as a guide to follower rather than a checklist to complete. Discipleship is a way of life, not a list of requirements, so be careful not to view it like that! By becoming familiar with these T.R.A.I.T.S., taking time to reflect on the questions and apply the examples to your life, you can continue taking steps in the direction of discipleship. You can also look to the saints, who are examples of real people who have answered the call to discipleship, or to  people in your own life who are living their lives in the way a disciple is called to live. In all of these ways, we can become more and more familiar with how to live out Christ's call to "follow me" in today's world!

To view all the T.R.A.I.T.S., reflection questions and action steps together, click here.

To print out a PDF of all the T.R.A.I.T.S., reflection questions and action steps, click here.

 
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