Every pastor I know believes in discipleship. Every pastor has his philosophy and methods, and no two are exactly the same. But there should be one common ingredient present in every discipleship endeavor. A secret sauce will help lead to spiritual success in seeing faith fostered and matured in others. When it comes to discipleship, what does the Bible tell us is the secret sauce?

Love.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines secret sauce as “a special quality that makes something successful.” According to Scripture, love is the special quality that makes discipleship successful.

At a pivotal moment, Jesus, the master disciple-maker, had it said of Him and His discipleship, “He loved them to the end.” “The end” here in John 13:1 is not simply a chronologically oriented love—it’s a comprehensive love. Jesus loved His disciples as much as anyone could ever love anyone else (and infinitely more than that). Later that evening, Jesus commanded His disciples to love each other until the end (John 15:12), as He had loved them.

Throughout the rest of the New Testament, every divinely inspired author appropriates the same term in addressing their brothers and sisters in the faith: Ἀγαπητοί (a cognate adjective form of agape). This isn’t just any kind of love; it’s divinely oriented, a love rooted in the love of God, for this is the love God had for His beloved Son (Matthew 3:17).

In what is arguably the greatest discipleship relationship in the New Testament (after Jesus and His disciples), Paul specifically refers to Timothy as his beloved son. Paul had such great affection for Timothy, as a father has for his son. Paul took Timothy under his wing, spiritually speaking, and poured his heart, mind, and life into him as a spiritual father. Paul loved Timothy to the end.

Paul’s love for Timothy was not convenience-based; it was sacrificial. Paul held nothing back from Timothy. It is not enough to disciple another by passing on knowledge and experience; love must be the secret sauce of all Christian discipleship. It is love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Reaching another generation will demand that we love them till the end.

Why?

Discipleship requires long-term commitment.

Discipleship requires selfless sacrifice.

Discipleship requires saying hard things.

Discipleship requires pouring yourself out like a drink offering.

Discipleship requires divine love.

Be encouraged. This is the secret sauce to reaching and discipling the next generation.

Love them to the end!