how discipleship happens
Somewhere along the way, I picked up the idea that discipleship happens best when you find the perfect mentor. Someone to share long in-depth conversations over coffee about the Bible and life, while you listen with pen ready to jot down pearls of wisdom.
I imagined the relationship that young Timothy had with the Apostle Paul must have looked like that. Now, if only I could find that perfect mentor—the embodiment of wit and wisdom … dispenser of sage counsel … confidante, role model, accountability partner. Someone older for sure with lots of time and incredibly interested in pouring into my life. Maybe you’re blessed to have someone like this in your life, if so, great!
I once knew of a woman, a retired pastor’s wife, who hand-picked a small group of younger women to mentor over the course of an entire year. They met weekly in her home to learn all about the disciplines of a godly woman. These days it’s rare to find someone who will solely dedicate themselves to such full-time ministry. Mentoring certainly could look this way … but it didn’t happen that way for me.
In my experience, there was no specific setting or formal discipleship program. It hasn’t been one individual that fulfilled this role for me, it has been many. Discipleship happened as I regularly participated in the life of the church.
Most living things grow and thrive organically in the right environment. Christ established His Church for the nurture, protection, growth and flourishing of His people. We are a family … God’s family. Within this living community we have spiritual mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, that we learn from and learn with.
For me, discipleship happened through listening to good Bible teaching in our Sunday worship. In small group settings, learning and interacting with other believers. It happened organically through friendships around tables in homes, sharing a meal. It grew as I observed lay leaders in action.
Discipleship happened as I stepped up—no longer content to be a consumer—and grew up to be a committed worker. Serving with others to see a mission accomplished taught me responsibility, faithfulness and hard work.
Over the years, Virtue Bible study has been a strong catalyst for my personal growth and discipleship. Within these circles, I gained lifelong friendships, listened and learned from others’ life experience, and became vulnerable enough to share my faults.
Experience has taught me that engaging in every facet of Church life is your opportunity to be mentored if you will see it as that. It is Christianity being lived out in real life.
I think of my fabulous friend, Claire Simons, an example of steadiness, godliness, faithfulness. By her words and actions, she has modeled to many young wives and mothers (myself included) that ministry starts where God has placed you—and if He placed you at home, that was ministry. Her talents in the kitchen are legendary!
Our precious Dotty Stephenson was the boldest prayer warrior I have ever heard. She led our intercessory prayer ministry for years. It has been said that Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon their knees—and if that’s true, Satan must have run for cover when Dotty stormed heaven with her boldness in prayer. She would often say, “Now honey, listen to me when I tell you . . .” and you can believe we listened!
My dear friend, Karen Poor showed me the priority of godly friendship and the importance of helping to connect women in ministry . She beautifully demonstrated it is possible to lead from behind and empower others to serve without being threatened by their spiritual gifts.
These women, among many others, have been channels that God has used to grow me as a believer and disciple.
My Christian life was formed along these many paths. Discipleship happens … in the sanctuary, as we worship and learn … in the nursery with other mommies, rocking babies … in circles, with Bibles and notebooks in our laps, sharing our thoughts … in huddles, wherever two or three are gathered to pray.
Over the years, wise women have crossed my path. They have poured into me, and I have poured into them. None of us possess all of the spiritual gifts and I have learned that we are, after all, just women doing our part to build up the body of Christ.
The entire church has helped me grow.
Discipleship happens best when you actively participate in the life of the church. Let the Lord lead you to His church and you will not lack for mentors.
So Christ Himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work. – Ephesians 4:11-16