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The One Essential Key To Following Christ?

The One Essential Key To Following Christ?

I like to boil things down to their simplest essence. Call it a hobby. I enjoy thinking about things in their simplest form. And if we apply this to discipleship, the act of bending one’s life to follow Jesus, it yields interesting results.

It's an interesting question, I think: What is the most essential aspect of discipleship?

I think Jesus said it best (no surprise, right?):
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24).’”

Denial of self.


Self-denial is the key to following Christ. It’s that simple.

  • Self-denial is shrinking ourselves so that Christ is made greater.

  • It’s putting the needs of others ahead of our own for the sake of the Gospel.

  • It’s learning (through Spirit-empowered trial and error) to truly seek the Kingdom first over and above our own comfort.

  • It’s viewing our talents, passions, and experiences as resources for God to use to advance the Gospel.


Self-denial is starving our “selves.” The opposite is, of course, feeding the “self.” Feeding our ego. Feeding our pride. Feeding our sin. Feeding our me-firstness.

Discipleship is a rich relationship not a formulaic process. There is a reason it’s often compared to a journey. There are so many wonderful aspects of following Christ. But the key to experiencing these is to become increasingly adept at self-denial.
There are few truths more valuable than this.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask yourself questions similar to these:

  • Do the teenagers in our ministry get this?

  • Do they see self-denial modeled in their homes?

  • Am I pursuing this? Is our ministry team?

  • Wheat areas in my personal life am I feeding that I should be starving?

About The Author

Andy Blanks

Andy Blanks

Andy Blanks is the Publisher and Co-Founder of YM360 and Iron Hill Press. A former Marine, Andy has spent the last 17 years working in youth ministry, mostly in the field of publishing. During that time, Andy has led the development of some of the most-used Bible study curriculum and discipleship resources in the country. He has authored numerous books, Bible studies, and articles, and regularly speaks at events and conferences, both for adults and teenagers. Andy and his wife, Brendt, were married in 2000. They have four children: three girls and one boy.

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