Discipleship. It’s one of those words that either conjures up really positive feelings or really negative ones. It can make us excited or nervous or even full of dread. I love the idea of discipleship. Even better, I love God’s heart for it. Outside of community, discipleship is my other jam!
I grew up very isolated and lonely. I had a few friends, but mostly lived my home life within the four walls of my bedroom. I wasn’t a believer, but God graciously placed a couple of amazing female teachers in my life during my junior high and high school years. They spent time with me, listened to me, and gave me sound advice. The bit of God they had experienced, they freely offered. I was beyond grateful to know that they cared for me and wanted what was best for me. They spoke truth and brought correction when I needed it.
I took those times and ran with it. When I gave my life to Christ in college, I immediately became a youth leader. I have now been in youth leadership for almost 20 years. It has not been an easy ministry, but so very fulfilling watching young girls realize who God is to them and who they are in Him.
Not everyone is called to such an obvious form of discipleship. But, we don’t have to be.
I haven’t limited myself to this age group. As I become older, God has opened doors in relationship with some college-aged girls. I love this age! So many of life’s crucial decisions occur in our 20’s. There is a great need for guidance during these years. In every stage thus far in my life, I have had the joy of having some of the godliest women pour their very lives into me.
Even when it comes to my peers, God brings dear women who are young in their faith or who need spiritual direction. I know in the very core of my being that we were designed to walk through life with others. Intentional discipleship is just that…intentional. It takes prayer, effort, and perseverance. Despite all the awkwardness and messiness that can accompany it, there is such a beautiful treasure awaiting us on the other side.
When I read about the life of Christ, He modeled perfectly what discipleship looks like. It is quite simple. It is life on life. Far too often we complicate it. We make it something He never intended it to be. We set unrealistic expectations and become discouraged when they aren’t realized.
Jesus’ last command was for us to make disciples to the utter ends of the earth. How can we ever do that if we get distracted by fear and complication?
Love One Another
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)
This is easier said than done. But, God wouldn’t have put this in His Word if it wasn’t possible. Love looks like Jesus. How did He love people? He served. He provided. He spoke truth. He extended grace and mercy. He was kind and patient. He gave endless chances. He brought forgiveness and redemption. He led the way to restoration.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
As ambassadors, this is how we reconcile the world to Christ and make disciples. A life lived like Christ, exudes the sweetest aroma. It softens even the hardest of hearts.
Keep It Simple
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42)
The whole book of Acts and the early church brings me so much joy. This is the epitome of what discipleship and doing life together should be. It doesn’t encompass a master’s degree or a 20-step program. We don’t have to have the answers to every possible theological or moral question. It’s okay to not know and to live in mystery. Personally, I think that the deepest Jesus conversations I have had have been across broken bread and coffee and haven’t always had neat conclusions.
Stir Up One Another
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
I am an encourager by nature. It is crazy easy for me to see the potential in others and call it out. When I do, it feels like the most natural thing in the world. It was what I was created to do. It is what you were created to do as well. It may not be natural for you to encourage others, but it is how we build up the Body. It is how we strengthen each other. It is how we draw out the gold in each other. It is how we disciple.
Disciples are made when encouragement becomes a priority.
How have you experienced discipleship? Have you been discipled? Are you discipling someone?