I was never successful in friendships until I was an adult and even now those relationships come with their own struggles. As much as I wanted friendships I was fearful of sharing who I really was and was often still haunted by the terrible memories of what having friends in school was like.
I believed loyalty was rare and selfishness among friends was normal, needless to say my idea of relationships was a bit tainted into my adult years.
When the idea of discipleship came into the picture I found myself even more frightened. Because in this relationship you lay it all on the line with no expectation of anything in return. Discipleship is seeking to benefit the other person above ourselves and helping them grow in the Lord.
Paul says it best, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4
When it comes to discipleship we must throw everything we thought we knew about relationships to the side and learn how to create those relationships God’s way. My expectations will likely not align with the truth in God’s Word about the relationships that I will have with others, because my expectations often have a selfish side.
Discipleship is less take and more give. The purpose is to have relationships with other women in your life who need the truth of the Gospel in front of them. Sometimes it means loving someone else right where they are even if it is hard and messy. It can look like seeing a need and meeting the need of others when you can. Being a listening ear and an offerer of biblical advice.
Discipling others is about their needs over our own.
We are working to cultivate relationships and there are only a few ways that we can authentically do that. We have to be willing to be vulnerable with others, we have to be honest about where we, ourselves, are spiritually, and we have to be willing to invite people into the process of what it looks like to become more like Christ.
Discipleship has three distinctive yet close knit types of relationships.
- Discipling unto salvation – this type of relationship is helping someone come to know Christ through building a relationship and sharing your testimony. There is no cut and dry way to do this but the point is not to beat them over the head with your Bible or use words they may not understand but speak from the heart and from a place where they can see what Christ did in you.
- Discipling a young believer – This may be a young woman in your church who just came to know the Lord or maybe just young in their spiritual walk. This is a great place to invest in their lives, inviting them to coffee, inviting a mom to bring her kids for a play date, taking a meal to a new mom, etc. You are establishing relationship connections with them. You can do Bible study together, or maybe they seek you out for biblical advice. Either way, look for places that you can make a lasting investment.
- Disciple to disciple – this type of relationship may be one where two believers come alongside one another to grow at the same pace. Maybe you engage in regular Bible study together, discuss Scripture and seek to hold one another accountable. This too is discipleship.
Whether this disciple-making situation is new to you or one you have done well for a long time there are simple places to start to be a great disciple-maker. Just remember this … being yourself and being an honest friend is always a great place to begin.