Allyson and I met at Adrienne’s small group a few years ago, and then, we decided to meet for dinner. Wah-lah, we became fast friends, kindred spirits, and Chipotle buddies. I hope you enjoy her post – she’s a follower of Jesus and a discipler of women. You’ll love her!
As women, we find comfort in being heard, understood, affirmed, encouraged. These comforts are most assuredly found in the Word, but they are also fleshed out by the presence of someone who cares about us, namely someone who has walked the road with Christ longer than we have, and from that longer journey, wisdom abounds. This is the very picture of discipleship: someone older walking alongside someone younger, sharing the heartaches and triumphs of a life devoted to Christ. My faith in Christ has grown in height and depth through such relationships. I have distinct, precious memories of talking through my college years with Suz, mulling over my mid-twenties with Carol, and making the transition to my thirties with Marcia. Out of the overflow of these relationships, God has generated and sustained a passion in me to disciple younger women, and the joy that has come from meeting with women over the years simply cannot be measured.
The blessings of discipleship are beyond number, but all too often, those in the position of discipling another can find themselves overwhelmed by the perceived weight of the role or the obstacles present in the life of those being discipled. To disciple someone well, true clarity of the responsibility is paramount, and appropriate boundaries are essential. While I am in no way an expert on discipling, I have learned much from the older women who have poured into me, and likewise, I have learned much by doing the same, blunders and missteps included. With God’s grace, please allow me to share what He has shown me about the role of a discipler.
Above all, effective discipleship flows from our own discipleship by Christ. Through intentional study of the Word, regular fellowship with other believers, and a diligent prayer life, Christ challenges us, molds us, transforms us, resurrects us. As we enjoy this kind of vibrant relationship with Him, it is natural that we can share what we have learned and what we are learning with others. This is exactly what younger women want in discipleship. They desire to sit beside a woman who knows Jesus and is known by Jesus. They want to learn what it looks like to cultivate that kind of intimacy with Christ, and no matter how much older you are, even if you’ve walked only a couple of years longer with Him, the journey you’ve been on with God has signposts for those newer to the road. Share those signposts: be vulnerable, be honest, be transparent. The women I mentioned earlier gave me their ears countless times, being willing time and again to hear the aches of my heart and soul, that week’s tantrum over a lack of control, the throbbing pain of not understanding what God is doing when He seems so silent. Of course I appreciated their listening, but I also valued when they would share how they had faced similar struggles and how God proved faithful just the same. Hearing how they held fast to Christ amid doubt, disappointment, and anxiety spurred me to hold fast. Their relationships with Christ weathered the storms of their particular journeys, so surely He is the same yesterday, today, and forever for me too (Hebrews 13:8). When you disciple, share those signposts.
Along those same lines, I would urge you to resist the enemy’s strategic deception that stresses sharing only perfection, giving the appearance that your relationship with Christ is flawless, easy, and that you are just hunky dory, all smiles and “life’s just great.” The Word says the very opposite: His strength is made perfect in our weakness, and so we must allow those weaknesses to surface. As we take off our veils, the women we disciple will follow suit, and that kind of maskless, barefaced exposure paves the road to true freedom in Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). Of course, be honest about the victories He’s accomplishing in your life, for those are equally vital to healthy discipleship, and He deserves glory in all things. Overall, I would advocate authenticity with all the facets of your walk with Christ.
Practically speaking, when you disciple, you have certain prerogatives, and I’d encourage you to use them. I have found that the women who want to meet with me are willing to work around my schedule and figure out when and where is most convenient for me. I know, to some of you that sounds selfish, but it’s not. It’s simply not. When you are giving time to share your life with another, that is exactly what is required of you: share your life. You don’t have to rearrange everything; rather, determine what works best based on what’s going on in your life and once you do, stick to that plan as much as possible. In addition, if you have a schedule that would allow you to meet with multiple women in a week, go for it, but I’d say most of us don’t have that kind of time. Instead, meet with one girl once a week or once every two weeks and simply be consistent with that girl. That season of discipleship may last a semester, a year, or more. Just know that making yourself available is in and of itself a gift, and the girl you are discipling is more than happy to accommodate however necessary in order to enjoy the gift of walking with you.
Ultimately, our responsibility is to point these women to Christ. I’ve found myself constantly wanting to speak quickly and problem solve as I’ve discipled women. God keeps reminding me, sometimes gently, other times with a jerk of the bridle (Psalm 32:8-10), that it is not my job to save this girl. Christ saves this girl…He is the one who brings beauty from ashes, He is the one who reconciles the unreconcilable, He is the one who heals broken hearts, He is the one whose presence and perfect love removes fear. And that’s exactly what we are to be reminding these women—tell them who Christ is and how very much He loves them. One of the most powerful ways to remind them of these truths is in prayer (James 5:16). Prioritize praying with the women you disciple. As the Spirit leads you, intercede on their behalf, knowing fully where they are based on what they just shared, and I promise you, your prayer will be sweet to their souls and reviving to their hearts. As a total, God-given bonus, praying for them blesses you as well, for in doing so, you fellowship with Christ and remind yourself of the very truths you are praying for them. Point them to Christ; pray often and much.
I can’t place a value on the time I’ve spent with Suz, Carol, Marcia, and a host of other women that God has provided for me the past thirty-two years of my life. And I can’t quantify the joy I have experienced by sharing my life with a number of younger women, seeing time and again God’s redemption of the valleys I’ve walked and experiencing the rich reward of true fellowship (1 Thessalonians 2:8). Generational ministry is a beautiful picture of the body of Christ. My prayer is that these rambling thoughts of mine encourage those of you who are currently discipling women and perhaps spurs some of you on who are not yet engaged in these kinds of relationships. In discipleship, there is not burden, but great joy, true community, and real growth. May His grace and peace abound as you serve Him in this way.