June 3, 2011

Finding Someone to Disciple You

I received the following email in response to my latest posts regarding discipleship:

I have a question about your most recent top of discussion: discipleship. As a younger single, 23, how do I seek out discipleship from a wiser woman? I know quite a few great women but they’re all so busy, I’ve yet to find someone who has the time and interest in teaching, challenging, and merely being a part of my life spiritually. Do you have any suggestions? This is something I’ve wanted for years now and have yet to find it…

Here is what I suggested to her and to those of you in the same situation:
  • Get to know older women through Bible studies, SS classes, retreats, etc.
  • Observe them with others and how they respond to things in their lives. Are they dependent on the Lord and do they show a love/compassion toward other people? 
  • Pray about who specifically you would like to learn from/grow with. God may be giving you a special inclination or affection for a certain woman.
  • After God leads you to that person, ask that woman to have coffee or lunch with you. Spend that time asking her questions and getting to know her more. If you feel comfortable, ask her if she'll disciple you. You may not want to use that term because it sounds kind of scary to people who aren't familiar with it. But you could say something like, "I really want to grow in the Lord and, as I have gotten to know you, I have found that I'd really like to learn from you. Would you meet with me weekly (or as your schedule allows) to talk about (whatever topics or whatever book of the Bible you want to study)?" 
  • You may also ask around at your church to see if there is someone who helps get these relationships going. I don't always think "matching" is the preferred way to do it, but someone like that might be able to steer you toward women who have discipled before and have a heart for it.

Fear often keeps older women from initiating with younger women despite many young woman wanting and needing guidance from older women. Older women secretly think: What do I have to offer? They don't want to spend time with me or learn anything from me! In Becoming a Titus 2 Woman, Martha Peace speaks to this common fear:
Older women are instructed in Titus 2 to teach and encourage the younger woman. Often, the older woman will discern actions or patterns of thinking in the younger women that are sinful and foolish. They will pray for the younger women but do nothing else. Why? A common answer seems to be, "If I say anything, she will get mad at me."
This is likely due to wrong thinking and responses on the part of the older woman and the younger woman. the older woman be afraid that something unpleasant may transpire. She probably grew up with the belief that you do not say anything unless the other person asks for help. On the other hand, the younger woman may be proud and become defensive if anyone thinks she is less than perfect. She probably grew up with the belief that if anyone reproves her they are not accepting her as she is, not loving her, and making her feel badly.
Obviously, this is a problem because God intends for the older woman to teach and encourage the younger woman...If both will do what is right--the older one reaching out in love to the younger and the younger one responding in humility with a teachable heart--God will be glorified, the older woman will overcome her fear, and the younger woman will grow by leaps and bounds.
Instead of complaining about or being afraid of the younger women, the older Christian woman should pray for them, involve themselves in their lives, teach and encourage the younger woman.
Are you a "younger" woman who desires discipleship? Tell us what you would like to learn from an older woman and why.