"Jesus called the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]." ~ Mark 8:34 (AMP)
To be a true follower of Christ is conditional. First, we must deny ourselves - and then take up the cross and follow Him. To deny oneself means emptying yourself of yourself - pride, ambitions, agenda, ego. It is impossible to follow Jesus, to be a true disciple, without first denying and emptying your “self”. A hard lesson that most never learn. The way to discipleship is narrow.