To my sister who feels lonely in her faith,
You know that feeling you get when you want to do something awesome like run a marathon, learn how to surf or take a painting class? You’re excited. You’re pumped and want to try something new and start as soon as possible. But then you stop and realize that you’re the only one who wants to do that and you get discouraged because you’re alone. Then you can’t muster up the motivation to do that awesome new thing by yourself. Let that be your life no longer!
The solution is discipleship. Maybe you don’t know what that is or you’ve never heard of it. Just know that it is not a new trendy idea. It’s not a get-friends-quick-scheme. It is God’s plan to refine us and challenge us; help us to be more like Jesus and provide us with the encouragement we need to run the race of Faith with joy. He is so sweet and gracious for giving us this. You basically get to say to your friend “Hey friend, do you want to do this awesome thing called Christianity with me?” And then BAM, you are not alone. You get to walk with Jesus alongside a sister, receiving and giving wisdom, truth and encouragement along the way.
For me, discipleship has been one consistent call upon my heart from the Lord since I became a follower of Christ. It’s the reason that I have deep and encouraging friendships that lead me to pursue the Kingdom of God.
It all began at my first Young Life Club when I was 15 years old. (Young Life is a ministry that shares the gospel with teenagers through relationships, fun and easy-to-understand gospel messages.)
I walked into the room alone and nervous, and someone met me at the door with a huge smile. She looked genuinely happy to see me, and I couldn’t fathom why. From the very moment I met her I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Not because of her physical nature, although she is very pretty, but because there was something so bright and kind about her. She captivated me. I wanted to be just like her. She was like a beacon of hope and joy. This woman(we will call her Ruth) became my very first mentor. And through her obedience, faith, and pursuit of my heart, God drew me to his Son.
Ruth was a busy mother of 8 kids, yes 8! She was very active with ministries, church, bible studies and other things that kept her busy and yet, she found time for me. She taught me how to read the Bible, how to pray, how to go to God with my struggles and my sin. She got to know me and she accepted me, flaws and all. She walked with me through the brokenness and messy parts of my life, always pointing me to the truth of who Jesus is. She welcomed me into her life and she literally embodies the message of
1 Thessalonians 2:8 – “So we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”
I can’t thank God enough for sending Ruth into my life. She empowers me to love other women and teach them about the person of Jesus Christ. Her real-life example may enhance your picture of discipleship, but it is most important to look to God’s Word and the life of Jesus to establish your understanding.
There is a book called The Master Plan of Evangelism. It lays out God’s #1 plan for spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth, and I’ll give you a guess as to what the author believes His plan is… Yep, DISCIPLESHIP! The book is awesome and I highly recommend it because it’s a closer look into the life of Jesus and the way that he led and loved his 12 disciples:
“All the disciples had to teach them was a teacher who practiced with them what he expected them to learn. Evangelism was lived before them in spirit and in technique. Watching him, they learned what it was all about. He led them to recognize the need inherent in all classes of people, and the best methods of approaching them. They observed how he drew people to himself; how he won their confidence and inspired their faith; how he opened to them the way of salvation and called them to a decision. In all types of situations and among all kinds of people, rich and poor, healthy and sick, friend and foe alike, the disciples watched the master soulwinner at work. It wasn’t outlined on the blackboard of a stuffy classroom nor written up in a “do it yourself” manual. His method was so real and practical that it just came naturally.”
(The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman)
I truly believe that in Matthew 28:16-20, Jesus places a specific and powerful call on the life of every person who follows Jesus. It says this:
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This is the biblical basis of discipleship and is often referred to as “The Great Commission.” Reading those verses gives me chills sometimes. Jesus is so mighty, so divine and yet so available. Can there be a greater call on your life? I am overwhelmed by unworthiness and gratitude when I think about how God showers me with grace as He chooses to involve me in His miracle of salvation! It’s the biggest privilege of my entire life. I don’t deserve such a purpose. And His grace doesn’t end there; Jesus declares he will be with us always, He will never leave us or forsake us!
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Not only will he never leave us alone, but he has modeled for us the most beautiful and inclusive lifestyle of discipleship. In his kindness he says “I do not want you to live your Christian life by yourself. Be with others. Make disciples.”
If you feel encouraged by this, maybe God is starting a fire in your heart for a discipleship relationship. Take a leap of faith and ask your younger sister, niece or friend if she would like to study a book of the Bible with you. Believer or non-believer. Maybe just ask a younger high school or college student if she would like a mentor to walk through life with. Jesus will give you the courage to reach out! And through the beautiful relationship of discipleship we reflect the heart of Jesus and His desire that we love one another as He has loved us.
Us women are notorious for sticking together and doing things in groups. Arriving to a party, going to the bathroom, starting a diet, taking fitness classes and more. We like the company, we like the confidence and security that a group of friends provides. God made us relational. I know he had Titus 2:3-5 in mind when he created us. He knew that we would learn best from the women that surround us. His Word instructs us:
“Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.”
This is yet another biblical doctrine for discipleship. I love the picture that these words bring to my mind. Two women, of different ages, walking through life together, one learning from the other and one blessing the other with wisdom and genuine care. Perhaps God is placing a desire in your heart for a discipleship mentor. If so, start praying for one now. Tell God you are ready to grow in your faith and learn from a teacher. And then pick up your head and start looking for someone who is faithful and available, not perfect, just willing to care for you. Something anointed and special could begin with this. I encourage you to open your heart up to a sister in Christ and step into the calling of discipleship! You won’t regret it. God has such beauty in store for you. I know this because I know Him.
If you are already involved in a discipleship relationship feel free to tell us about it in a comment, email or on the gram. We would be honored to hear your story!