Which is all well and good and everything—like, kudos to all the missionaries out there that are living it out. But how am I supposed to do that? What does it even look like for an American teenager to walk out Jesus’ last command?
I Step Out to Mentor
A mentoring relationship is where a more mature Christian takes a new Christian under their wing and teaches them the basics of the faith. It’s a relationship that models what Jesus had with his disciples—the discipler and disciple spend time with one another, becoming friends and confidantes, praying and fasting together, seeking the Lord together, and encouraging one another to keep fighting the good fight. It’s actually a pretty complex thing that varies from church to church and relationship to relationship, but the gist of it is that the mature Christian takes care of the baby Christian.
Since I was eleven, I had been on the disciple end of the mentoring relationship, but the late summer of 2013 marked a new chapter of my life: I became the mentor.
I've had the privilege of watching a beautiful young lady mature in the Lord for nearly two years now. We talk about anything going on in our lives that’s difficult, asking for prayer and advice from one another. We discuss how our quiet times are going, what God has been teaching us through them, and questions that have risen from studying the Bible.
But our relationship doesn't end in that hour-and-a-half window.
We’re friends. We spend time with one another at events and at church, we have sleepovers. We go to the mall, to the movies, or we sit lazily in the other’s room and chat about whatever comes to mind. We're in one another's lives, and we grow closer with passing time.
The way the discipleship relationship works is quite simple, yet it requires an investment of oneself. You have to be willing to devote your time, your energy, your love, and your persistence. But it's worth it.
And it's only one of the many ways to fulfill Jesus’ last command.
My brother-in-law and another one of the young men from our church started a ministry where they play basketball in a nearby neighborhood, invite the residents, and use that opportunity to share the Gospel.
I help teach Sunday School to four- to eleven-year olds, sharing Bible stories and their practical application in the kids’ lives.
My church has both a teen and a young adult program, ministries that are geared toward bringing in and building up people in those age brackets.
There are so many ministries available to us, waiting to be employed in the pursuit of making disciples. All we have to do is look, and join in. Finding a nearby ministry—whether it’s an extension of your home church, or some kind of organization that takes care of the widows and orphans and allows you to share your faith—is never all that hard.
And once you’ve found your ministry, you dive in. Start sowing into people’s lives, caring for the broken and the needy—making disciples.
Living as an Example
One little girl might look to how I dress, a peer may look to how I interact with my parents, and a nonbeliever might look to how my faith has changed my life. In whatever I do, I am an example. And I hope to that little girl I exemplify the radiant beauty of modesty and purity. I hope to that peer I model healthy family relationships and the importance of respecting and honoring authorities. I hope to that nonbeliever I show how incredible my God is, and walk out a genuine Christian life that stirs a desire in them to know more about Him.
By living I can make disciples; I choose a path, and others may choose to follow. The important thing is to choose the right path. If people are going to follow me as I follow Christ, I hope they’re made into people that wouldn't hinder God, but boldly do His will.
The only way this could ever be a reality is if I seek God with my whole heart. I have to let Him captivate me, and I must surrender every area of my life to His control. I must daily rely on His grace and rejoice in His might. I can’t be stressed or anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, present my requests to God.
It’s not about being perfect. Because, in all honesty, I’d never be able to do what I just outlined. My natural tendency is to be lazy, independent to a fault, and self-involved. But it’s about being honest and real—and used by Him.
The other day I was talking with a friend of mine that felt inadequate to lead a Bible study on the topic of insecurities, as she struggled with whatever truth she would be sharing with the group. But what she has to do, and what we have to do as we make disciples by living as an example, is remember one thing: It’s never about us.
If we fail at something, if we’re imperfect and mess up, that’s when God shines the most. I can’t help but laugh at myself sometimes, when I realize that I assume that God’s Name will be most glorified when I am perfect—aka, when I can prove that I don’t need Him.
This is not to excuse sin. Shall grace increase so that we may sin all the more? By no means! We died to sin, how can we live in it any longer? Our imperfection should not be glorified and dressed up to seem beautiful, but it also should not be a hindrance to sharing the truth.
God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. And how much more beautiful are broken vessels, revealing their true state and in so doing, revealing the perfect state of our God? When we are incapable, we are only able to point to the One who is capable. When we misstep and fall, we are able to point to the One who is perfect and never fails.
In the end, making disciples is never about us. It’s never about what great mentors we are, or how much we sow into ministries, or how seemingly perfect our lives are. It’s always about Him. It’s about living, by His grace, the way Christ did. It’s about turning to those around us and beckoning them: “Follow me as I follow Him.”
Thank you, Sarah Joy Curtis for an excellent and inspiring word!