Living Out Discipleship
A couple of weeks ago I found myself sitting across from a dear young friend of mine. (In fact, this year I’m exactly twice her age. You math nerds out there will appreciate that. Ha!) We had opted to meet at a locally owned restaurant. We’d met there numerous times in the past, sometimes for brunch, other times for a snack. Today I sipped on ice tea while she enjoyed a fun drink with boba in it.
She was moving in mere days, stepping into her next adventure. I was so excited for her as I knew this was God-led and He had been preparing her for this moment. As I looked across the table at her glowing countenance, she talked and my thoughts momentarily drifted…
I met her shortly after I began dating my husband. He had told me on our third or fourth date that he would be going to a girl’s birthday party the next weekend, so he wasn’t sure if we would be able to get together. (WHAT?!! Who’s this other girl? I thought we were beginning something here!)
He went on to explain that this “girl” was turning two. (Phew.) I ended up going with him and met this friendly little lady. I can still see her standing on the top of their stairs, holding her arms out to me - a stranger to her at that time. (Whoa, where are these tears coming from?)
Her mother and I quickly became close friends, so I was able to watch that precious two-year-old grow. I had opportunities through the years to encourage her and support her in different little ways. What a blessing. Eventually, she graduated from high school and went off to college - a young vivacious woman. Through the years we kept in touch.
This past year she found herself back home after college, working and making plans for the next step in her journey. Our relationship had an opportunity to grow even deeper as she walked through different challenges and discussed them with me. You see this young lady has considered me one of her mentors for a number of years now. All that means is that we have a purposeful relationship. It’s a place of encouragement, courageous honesty, prayer, growth, and seeking God and His Truth.
As I sat with her that day, I was touched by the Lord’s wisdom and how He knowingly overlapped our lives. She and I have many similarities, especially in the places that there needed to be in this season of her life. I was able to speak out of the lessons God taught me and the encouragement He gave during my own past experiences. God created us to not only need Him but each other as well.
Mentoring or discipleship is simply intertwining our lives with people who are further on life’s journey than we are and others who are behind us. It’s beneficial for us to find ourselves in both positions - being discipled and discipling others. We need to have at least one relationship in which we receive wisdom and are encouraged to grow. And we all have something to offer and pass on to someone else, aiding in their development and growth.
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. II Timothy 2:1-2 ESV
Discipleship can look a lot of different ways. It can be formal and scheduled or it can be relaxed and fluid. It can last for years or just a short stretch of road. It may deal with an occupation, our relationship with God, or something else. We may be with a group of people or in a one-on-one relationship. It may take place in a classroom, restaurant, in person, or over the phone. You get the idea.
There are many places we can see discipleship in operation in the Bible. Here are a few examples of those relationships: Moses and Joshua, Naomi and Ruth, Elijah and Elisha, Jesus and His disciples, and Paul and Timothy. We can learn more about discipleship by studying the Word and these relationships.
My attention was drawn back to the young woman sitting across from me. We laughed as one of those boba balls escaped her mouth. And then another. My heart was full. I was so thankful for the distance God allowed me to walk with her. I’m proud of her as I see her pursuing the Lord and living with eyes open to other travelers needing encouragement. She too has a heart for growing others in the Lord, and so discipleship continues on.
I pray that your life’s journey would include many wonderful traveling companions as well. Remember: Jesus didn’t travel alone. He had disciples He taught and grew relationships with. Then before He left, He told them to go and make disciples themselves (Matt. 28:19). Jesus not only lived this out, but He asked that we do likewise. That is reason enough to seriously consider and step into discipleship. Don’t be afraid to ask to join someone who is further ahead in the direction you want to go and make sure to reach out and grab someone’s hand who is behind you as well.
See you on the road,