Discipleship is following someone to be instructed by how faith leads them to uniquely live out their calling in Jesus, so that you can by faith uniquely live out your calling in Jesus.
The goal is not to simply be a carbon copy of their actions, but for your actions to reflect the same faithfulness that is present in their actions.
This is challenge that is present in generalised programs of discipleship. They can only suit a narrow group of a certain type of people, and a slightly wider group who force themselves to conform to the expectation. The rest simply slip away, usually being judged for a lack of commitment when what is present is a lack of recognition of who these people are and what would nurture them as disciples of Jesus.
Communities can only exist where there is difference. Organisations thrive on uniformity.
From Henri Nouwen:
To follow Jesus means to give our unique form and incarnation to God’s love.
To follow Jesus means to live our lives a authentically as he lived his. It means to give away our ego and to follow the God of Love as Jesus shows us. Following Jesus requires a conversion. It requires a new heart and a new mind.
There are not two followers of Jesus who are the same. Look at the great variety of saints. They all have their own unique style of discipleship. One of the most exciting aspects of the Christian life is that it does not put people in a mood, but creates a rich variety of people in whom the love God becomes incarnate in very different ways.
If following were imitating then there could never be a community. A community is precisely a gathering of those who in different ways have integrated and incorporated the call. The vitality of the Christian community exists precisely because there are so many ways of following Jesus.
We all reflect God’s love in different ways. Together we are like a mosaic. In a mosaic on stone is bright, another stone is gold, another stone is small. If we look at it closely we can admire the beauty of each stone, but if we step back from it, we can see that all the little stones reveal a beautiful picture and tell a story that none of the stones can tell by itself. Together the different stones reflect the face of God to the world.
Henri Nouwen, Following Jesus, SPCK, 2019, pgs 48-49.