“He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you..”  (Matthew 4:19)

In the seventies I attended a meeting where the business executives of a large city asked the vice president of a large shipyard to explain why his shipyard was continuously given the contracts to build large aircraft carriers.  They had just been awarded a contract to build a large carrier and the next highest bidder was $38 million above them.

He said that he could answer their question with one word: apprenticeship.  He explained that a student in a university absorbs information for many weeks and then is asked to show that they remember and understand that information.  After doing that for four years they are given a degree and we declare them educated.  But unless they specialize in something that equips them for a specific job they are often educated people who can’t do anything.  In the shipyard, however, they put a person in the classroom for two weeks and in the shipyard for two weeks and after doing that for five years they build aircraft carriers.

I believe it is helpful to define what we mean when we call ourselves disciples of Jesus Christ. A synonym for the word disciple is “apprentice.” A disciple is an apprentice who is learning what they are doing and doing what they are learning.  Apprenticeship and discipleship are essentially the same concept.

To paraphrase and summarize, Jesus offers a covenant contract to those who profess to believe in Him.  That contract has two parts.  He promised, “You follow Me.  That is your part.  I will make you.  That is My part.  You follow Me.  That is your responsibility.  And I will make you.  That is My responsibility.”

3 Responses to Apprenticeship

  1. Kitty says:

    Wow. That is so interesting. It is really helpful to me to have a different word for Disciple… I just never thought of it that way… that we are ALL disciples/apprentices. Thank you for that insight…
    and, always and unceasingly, best wishes to thee and thine.

  2. John Paine says:


    Thanks for such an on-target post. I’ve been thinking a lot about personal discipleship lately–specifically about your Dad, his preparation for Sunday school in the rocking chair, and the “Oh wow!” comments you heard from him. That’s a picture of what discipleship is all about, and I am blessed to have had a similar experience. Maybe I could get your help on this topic for an upcoming post? ; – }

    God bless!


  3. janet riddett says:

    How wonderful! To be involved and chosen for God’s work through Jesus Christ. I love this comparison that Dick has offered…discipleship and doing, learning what we are doing and doing what we are learning. Shows such an active aliveness. It makes me think of Hebrews , “hold such great a salvation”. Thank you Dick, so blessed to see you continue these many years.

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