Initiating A Discipleship Relationship: Take The First Step
I remember where I was when I got the phone call. I’m not sure why this memory is so vividly, but I can still feel the chill in the air from that brisk September night. I was a sophomore at a Bible college. I had just joined a new church that I was very excited about. I had grown up going to the same church my whole life so there was so much that I was eager to experience for the first time. The singing and preaching was incredible but it was really the people that drew me in the most.
One of those people that I connected to very quickly was a woman named Tia. She was a young wife and mother- actually around the life stage that I’m in right now. She was spunky and bubbly and her passion for Jesus was contagious. Growing up I learned the importance of older, wiser people being an important part of my walk with Jesus, and I was anxious to latch on to someone.
Back to that cool September night. The call I got was from Tia, and she called to tell me she was starting a discipleship group and wanted me to join. I remember being so excited, because I felt like I really connected with her.
I think I remember that phone call so clearly because it was the beginning of an very influential relationship in my life, especially during my college years. Eventually I moved in with Tia and her family while I finished school, and she walked with me while I dated and then married my husband.
Not every discipleship relationship turns into a deep, life long friendship, but they do usually start the same way. Someone has to take the first step.
I do remember meeting and going through a book with Tia but what I remember most is the conversations we had while I sat on her kitchen floor and she made dinner. I learned a lot by simply watching her as she tried to balance life as a young mom andchurch plant member.
I watched her navigate some of the most difficult marital challenges and life changes I could imagine. I learned from her when she stood firm and when she made mistakes. I learned a lot from her because she let me in. She was willing to be transparent and vulnerable. To let me see the good and the bad.
My pastor said recently that “the best teacher is someone else’s experience”. He was teaching on Ecclesiates and how Solomon “had seen everything that is done under sun” (Ecc. 1:14), and then tells the reader what he had gained and learned from those experiences. Discipling relationships are a lot like this. Yes, we should read the Bible and pray together, but part of what makes a discipleship relationship work is letting others watch you closely as you try to be faithful to Jesus. I’m sharing my story to encourage you to make that first step. I’m so grateful Tia chose to take that step with me and allowed me to learn from her.
Discipleship relationships can look a lot of different ways. Some will only last for a short season, some will be in groups, some may be really casual-but all of them are made possible by a persons willingness to be both bold and vulnerable. It does take courage, but you don’t have to be a scholar or really out going to impact someone else. You just have to let people in and then follow as hard as you can after Jesus.
We need each other to run this race, so I encourage you to follow the Lord’s leading, and bring someone with you on the way.