I still remember the day I got the text in late 2019. It was from Liz, a lady from my church I had become acquainted with since marrying my husband Matthew. She and her husband had kindly invited us to their house for dinner once or twice, but I still didn’t know her very well. The message was short and simple: “Hey I’ve been praying about finding a young woman to disciple, and the Lord kept bringing you to mind. Are you interested?”
Wow! I certainly didn’t see that coming, but I was extremely happy about the idea and almost immediately responded in the affirmative. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I had a feeling whatever it was would be good. Little did I know then just what a blessing God had in store for me and Liz both.
Every week, we keep the same familiar routine. We begin by catching up, gabbing about the various happenings of each other’s previous week. Then, we either dive into the Word or a quality, spiritually focused book. To conclude, we pray together.
Over the past few months, I have seen my spiritual growth catapult forward at a rate that I had never seen before. I credit this to the Lord’s incredible grace upon my life and the gift He has given me of my discipleship partnership with Liz. Below I’ve written a list of the spiritual, mental, and emotional benefits I have received through discipleship.
1) Accountability. Meeting with Liz each week helped me to a) formulate my spiritual goals and b) discipline myself to achieve them. If you’re never talking to anyone about your personal spiritual walk, it becomes easy to simply coast and wander aimlessly with no real direction and without experiencing any growth at all. Talking about my life with Liz each week really helped me to identify my problem areas and areas I needed to improve in. And I became more motivated to address those things each week, because I knew Liz would ask me about them the next week. Plus, I know Liz is constantly praying for me—obviously that plays a big part as well!
2) Wisdom. Liz is a little more than 10 years older than me. She has two sweet elementary-aged girls and has been married much longer than me. Because of these things, she has more life experience. She’s already walked the paths of many of the things I am struggling with as a 23-year-old (somewhat) newlywed. I’ve opened up to her about my struggles as a young wife, and she’s graciously imparted to me the wisdom of her own personal experience. I cannot put into words just how valuable this is to me!
3) Friendship. This is certainly one of the sweetest parts of our “partnership.” Liz has become one of my closest friends, and I truly feel like I can tell her anything. We text one another throughout the week. We bear one another’s burdens, pray for each other, and of course, laugh and just have fun. She really feels like the big sister I never had!
4) To end this list, I’d like to give a caveat. None of the things above can happen without one key ingredient—honesty and openness. In my opinion, this is an absolute requirement for true discipleship to take place. If you don’t make yourself vulnerable enough to talk about real struggles you are facing, your discipleship partner cannot try to aid you in those struggles.
So why am I telling you all this? Because I firmly believe that discipleship/mentoring relationships are largely absent from our present church culture, and it shows. Most of us just see each other on Sundays with no idea of the joys, struggles, and sorrows our brothers and sisters are facing throughout the week. Many of us are lonely and desperate for human connection, but it doesn’t have to stay this way.
If you are young, begin praying now that the Lord would send someone into your life willing to disciple you. If you are an older, mature Christian, look around for any young Christians you know who you believe you could disciple. Ideally, you could find an older Christian to disciple YOU and a younger Christian to disciple yourself! Wouldn’t that be neat?
It’s true that the word “discipleship” is not actually used in the Bible. However, we see this as a pattern of life expected for Christians in Titus 2. “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.” (Titus 2:2-6)
Perhaps you would love to be discipled, but just feel like you don’t know anyone who is able or willing to disciple you. Or maybe you’ve asked an older person to disciple you and got turned down. (Sadly, I know someone personally who this has happened to.) If this is your situation, do not despair; you are not alone. The Lord knows your heart, and His grace will be sufficient for you.
With that said, at Innerfire, we are keenly aware of this need in the church and are considering ways we could create a discipleship network that could connect those who want to disciple and be discipled. We’re not quite sure what that looks like yet, but we appreciate your prayers for us as we consider how to move forward.
The Christian walk was never one to be traveled in isolation. We need one another to survive and thrive. I urge you to look around in your church, your family friends, maybe even extended family members. Look for someone who could disciple you or who you think you could disciple yourself. I can almost guarantee that it will be a great blessing to you.