One of the values of our church is discipleship. In the scriptures, we see that Jesus was intentional about his relationships with the twelve, and as he was leaving earth, his command to his followers is that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). It was important to Jesus that his church continue to make disciples—followers who reproduce the life of Jesus in themselves and help others do the same. This is how the church continues multiplying and growing across the earth—not primarily through programs or even Sunday services, but through life-on-life relationship that draws us closer to Christ and one another.
It doesn’t always feel like a great cost to me, personally, to disciple other women—one of my strengths on the Strengthsfinder test (which I recommend!) is “Developer.” I enjoy helping others develop, grow, and live out of a place of vibrancy and health in their relationship with God. Meeting with women on a regular basis, asking them questions, challenging them, encouraging them in their walk with God—these are things I love. So it does not feel like a “forfeit” as much as other things in my relationship with God. But it is a cost. People are messy. I’m messy. Very messy. Bring two messy lives together regularly and there will be more to work through, more to grow in. This is where the cost comes in. Women need to talk when I don’t think I have the time to talk. Women want to get together when I don’t feel like having my schedule interrupted. Women need help with things that I’m not good at, things that take time and energy from me. These women—women I love and care about—they don’t live on my schedule. They have different relational needs than I do. They require sacrifice.
I’m nearly six months pregnant with our first child—a little girl who is coming in May. We couldn’t be more excited and, to be honest, I already feel a little mystified about how parenting will work. I have seen the transition in the lives of some of my best friends—I know that my life will change, drastically and dramatically, forever. Children are the most intimate disciples any person can have. They live with you day in and day out, they see you at your worst and best. They know how you really live.
I think about my daughter, about who she will be and how she will respond to God—and my heart is to be a mother who disciples her well. I want to be a mother who understands the messiness that she and I both bring to the table. I want to respond to her need for time and conversation and help when she interrupts my life—which she will do, beautifully, starting in May and then every day afterwards. Her life will be one giant interruption into my own. But if I will respond like Jesus, I think I will experience that interruption is an opportunity for life, true life. Because all life requires sacrifice. I see this with the women I disciple—if I allow my life to be interrupted by theirs, we both grow in our love for God and one another. The cost is followed by unexpected reward.
Life requires sacrifice—Jesus knew this best of all. If I am to follow him, to let my life be forfeited for His, to let my life be swallowed up by Life, this is one of the many lessons. The interruptions of discipleship, of parenting, of living, are some of the pathways to this fuller life—a life lived not for myself, but for the One who is Life itself.