Disciplemakers Hand Illustration

Some months ago I began meeting with Keith. Our relationship has grown as a result of our shared passion for swimming. Along with many years of swimming experience, Keith also had the ability to pass on the skills he has acquired over time. As I spent more time with Keith, I decided to approach him with the question, “Can you help me develop my skills as a swimmer?” He graciously agreed to work with me.  

Keith’s approach in helping me improve as a swimmer focused on five areas:


  • Tell me why – Keith would patiently answer my questions, which included, “Why do I get tired so quickly when I swim? Or why am I having difficulty in improving with my distance strokes?"
  • Show me how – He modeled how he wanted me to improve as a swimmer. He emphasized the process (e.g. improved breathing) over the product (e.g. increased number of laps).
  • Get me started – He observed my technique and then he guided me toward improving. He instructed me in steps from where I was in my skills toward where I could be through effort. The end result of Keith’s instruction was that I developed the capacity to swim with greater ease and enjoyment. In time, I was able to do this on my own, without his continued instruction. With each session, Keith became less of an instructor and more of an encourager who cheered me on as a swimmer.
  • Keep me going – Keith’s words of insight and encouragement were critical in helping me to continue in my growth as a better swimmer. He helped me fine tune my technique so I could continue to see improvement and keep going.
  • Pass it on – As a result of Keith’s careful instruction, I have the skills and strategy to help another improve in their swimming technique.
The approach that Keith followed in helping me as a swimmer is a strategy that works for developing leaders, training new employees, and developing disciples. His approach was clear, caring, and encouraging. Keith’s careful help brought to mind a couple of favorite passages on the area of disciplemaking:

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to
reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. 2 Timothy 2:2  (NIV)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

I was so impressed with the process that Keith followed that I decided to correlate his method to the steps followed in disciplemaking. The steps can be summarized in an easy to remember illustration, which I call the Disciplemakers Hand Illustration. Since the illustration is focused on discipleship, I refer to the “Pass it on” step as the “Help him multiply” step. The illustration is shown below:

Click here for an explanation of the Disciplemakers Hand Illustration.

Click here for a Bible Study related to the Disciplemakers Hand Illustration.

About the Author
Bob Hoffman is currently Associate Staff with the Navigators. Bob has served with the Navigators since 1972. He and his wife Katherine have labored alongside couples and business professionals in California and Texas since 1981. They live in Bedford, Texas.