The notion of discipleship is a powerful one. For anyone to say they are a Christian ought to mean, “I am a disciple of Christ.” And to be a disciple means you strive to hold nothing back from your commitment to follow him.

Being a disciple of Jesus should mark us out in several ways.

In fact, being a disciple of Jesus marks our very souls in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage and Holy Orders, and changes our very being in others.

Even outside of the Sacraments, our life of discipleship should be the primary marking in our lives. It should be our very identity as disciples (followers) of Jesus. Below are Twelve Marks of Discipleship.

12 Marks of Discipleship

  1. Disciples are called - Luke 5:1-11 perfectly illustrates this. God always acts first! Jesus came to the fishermen and gave them an invitation. It was only after this invitation to discipleship that our choice matters. Jesus has called each of us. The next step is...
  2. Disciples intentionally respond to Jesus' call - After we are called, then a disciple must respond positively to the call! If Peter had not dropped his nets and followed Jesus, he would not be a disciple. You can't follow if you don't make a choice. Discipleship is never inherited or accidental!
  3. Disciples love - This is a primary mark of a disciple. Love of God and love of others. Jesus says that others will know we are disciples by our love for one another. (John 13:35).
  4. Disciples are fruitful - In fact, Jesus says that being fruitful PROVES that you are his disciple. "By this, my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples" -John 15:8.
  5. Disciples are obedient - Go a little farther in John 15 and you find in verse 14 - "you are my friends if you do what I command". Notice, we can't be intimate with Jesus and be disobedient. It is a non-starter.
  6. Disciples are taught - In Scripture, we constantly find the disciples of Jesus learning from Him. They listen and then implement the teaching in their lives (or at least attempt to). We too have to follow this model. The life of a Christian disciple is one of lifelong learning.
  7. Disciples follow - The word, "disciple", means "follower". All of our life of discipleship starts with following Jesus. We must do as he did. Love as he loved. Choose what he chose. "Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him" -Luke 8:1
  8. Disciples keep an eye on Heaven - The life we live now is not our final home. In fact, we are made to live with God forever in eternal bliss. Still, this heavenly home is determined by our decisions in this life. The prize of heaven is a gift we must keep our eyes on, so that we don't lose the eternal perspective of God.
  9. Disciples carry crosses - Discipleship isn't easy. Jesus puts it this way, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." -Luke 9:23. We should never forget that suffering is a part of discipleship. It isn't merely about feel-good emotions and good times.
  10. Disciples spend time with Jesus in prayer - If we do what Jesus did, then we need to live in intimate relationship with God. "He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” -Luke 11:1
  11. Disciples love and serve God (and others) - Think of the many times the disciples were called to serve. Jesus commands his 12 to be the ones to serve the crowds at the breaking of the loaves and fishes, to heal the sick, to drive out demons, etc. The life of a disciple isn't about you!
  12. Disciples make other disciples - Ultimately, we need to do what Jesus did, which means to "make disciples". This was his final command and the one we cannot avoid personally. 

The life of a disciple can be a challenge and one that we all need to grow in.  So what is a good — in fact, the best — example of discipleship? We find it in the example set by the one we aspire to follow: Jesus nailed to the cross. He was obedient to God’s will even unto death. When I think about Matthew 16:24 (Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.), I think, “not my will, but yours, God (from Luke 22:42), even unto death.”  None of this is related to finding comfort and pleasure, but it is the path to true happiness and life everlasting.


The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles. All the believers were united and shared everything.  They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.

Acts 2:42-47

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When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together. One of them, a legal expert, tested him.“Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbour as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

Matthew 22:34-40

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Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”

Matthew 28:18-20 

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With what should I approach the Lord and bow down before God on high? Should I come before him with entirely burned offerings, with year-old calves? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with many torrents of oil? Should I give my oldest child for my crime; the fruit of my body for the sin of my spirit? He has told you, human one, what is good and what the Lord requires from you: to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:6-8

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