Raise your hand if discipleship has ever sounded vague and intimidating? Ok, good. I’m really glad I’m not alone. As long as I’ve been a follower of Christ, I’ve known that discipleship is important, but I’ve had a hard time understanding what it actually is and how I fit into the puzzle.
Here’s the deal—as a woman who knows Jesus, you’re called to disciple other women. It means that you’re called to teach someone else what you know about Jesus as you continue to learn and grow. Discipleship isn’t just for the experienced, seasoned woman or just for the one who gets a paycheck from a ministry job. It’s for you, wherever you are. Our call is to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19a) no matter our life stage, age, gender, job, or role.
There are younger women in your life right now who need your wisdom and experience. They need to learn from your mistakes, hear about your failures, and see how you’re letting God work and move in your life. They need a safe person who can help point them to Jesus, no matter what.
One of the greatest sources of accountability in my life has been discipleship, whether I’m the one being discipled or the one discipling another woman. First Corinthians 11:1 says, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (NIV). Paul is telling the believers that they can follow him as he keeps his eyes fixed on Christ. Theologian N.T. Wright makes a great point in reference to this passage:
Paul reminds them of the basic rule of life which he knew he was giving them when he was with them. He always tried to do what was best for others, not for himself, and in that he had been copying the Messiah himself (see Romans 15:2-3). They must now learn to copy him. If all Christian teachers had it in mind that their hearers were also observers, and that the lessons they learned with the eye would be the ones that would go deepest, the gospel might have advanced further and faster.” (N.T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians)
Wright makes such a great case for why discipleship is crucial to believers. Discipleship does not just mean that we teach, but we lead with our very lives. Those we disciple are not just hearers, but observers. They are watching to see why and how we do everything that we do, and our lives become a testimony to what we believe. This can be incredibly intimidating, but when we keep our focus on Christ, He is the One on display, not us. He is the One they are ultimately looking to—we just have to be honest with where we are in the process.
Whether you’ve been thinking about discipling a younger woman or this is new to you today, here are a few practical ways to get started:
- Be hospitable. Maybe you don’t have time to commit to meeting with someone on a regular basis, but you can open up your home and kitchen table to her. It doesn’t have to be formal, but you can take her to run errands with you or have a meal at your table.
- Share what you know. You’ve been the younger woman, so it’s not unfamiliar territory. Share your life experiences and what God has taught you in the process of growing up. She’s not looking for an expert, but she is looking for someone to share truth with her.
- Make yourself available. Carve out time on your calendar for discipling younger women. It’s not easy, but how much time have you spent watching Netflix in the last week? What if just one of those hours (or episodes) was spent intentionally?
- Say no when you need to. There are seasons when you need to let your no be someone else’s yes. Give yourself permission to know the season of life you’re in, but don’t let it become an excuse over time.
- Pray for opportunities. Don’t take this one lightly. Chances are, if you pray, God will send a younger woman into your life. He’ll do it because it matters.
- Don’t make it complicated. It’s so easy to overthink things like this and make assumptions. Don’t assume other women are too busy or you don’t have anything to offer. Just take a chance by saying yes, and see what God does!
What younger woman has asked you for some of your time recently? Is there someone God keeps putting on your heart to ask to coffee? Do something about it today. Don’t wait. God longs to use you to invest in the next generation. Are you willing?
Mary Margaret West serves as the Girls Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources, which basically means that teenage girls and the women who lead them are her favorite people on the planet. She has a passion to equip girls and women to dive deeply into God’s word and live out their calling, and does this by training, consulting, and speaking to women and student ministry leaders across the United States. Mary Margaret is the author of Show Her the Way: Your Guide to Discipling Teen Girls, is a former Girls Minister, and holds a master’s degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Mary Margaret and her husband Jonathan live in Franklin, TN.