Remember, former procrastinators, that excited-scared feeling that gripped you when you approached a roller coaster for the first time? Or jumped into the deep end of the pool? You hesitated. You procrastinated. Finally you did it. “Again! I wanna do it again!” That’s how I feel about one-on-one discipleship.
What a fitting topic as we say “Yes” to God! March posts about Mary lead us right up to this exciting adventure.
What is discipleship?
John Piper points out that in the New Testament, the verb “disciple” in Greek can mean preach the gospel so others convert to Christ (Acts 14:21). It can also mean the whole process of growth.
“Go therefore and make disciples. Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
In the New Testament everybody who believed Jesus was referred to as a Christian, a disciple. Like those believers, we, too, need to learn to think, feel, and act as Christians. Ongoing training helps us mature more and more.
There is no formula for this journey of growth toward Christlikeness. But on that journey, as Piper says, “We should seek help for ourselves and we should seek to help others.”
One highly effective way to do both is one-on-one discipleship. Some call this mentoring. Some say mentoring is limited to help in a defined area whereas discipleship covers every area of life. Whatever term you prefer, Jesus wants all of you. Growth in maturity is growth in surrender in every area.
My mother was the first to teach me to follow Jesus. I have sat under excellent Bible teaching pastors and study leaders. I have attended conferences that impacted my life.
But the greatest impact has come from meeting individually with an older, wiser godly woman on a regular basis. That’s the core of what I mean by one-on-one discipleship.
God has blessed me enormously over the years through three particular women. In each case, the two of us dedicated a specific time for Bible study, prayer, and scripture memory together. We talked about our lives, hopes, joys, struggles in light of scripture.
But as my dear friend Ana Perry says, “Discipling is not notebook to notebook. It’s life to life.” We shared meals – roast beef or frozen pizza. We shopped for groceries or clothes, went to the doctor, ran errands, gave parties, worked on projects, raised children, and much more.
These women make this passage shine in vivid living color:
“But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you mot only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” (I Thessalonians 2:7-8)
Do you long to nurture and be nurtured like this?
How might the prospect of one-on-one discipling make you excited and nervous?