Discipleship is complicated. What is it supposed to look like? Is it even talked about in the Bible? Who is supposed to reach out to who? Is there a specific age gap between a discipler and a disciplee? How often are we supposed to meet? When we do meet? What do we talk about? What if we don’t really “click”? Am I supposed to give up and ask someone else to disciple me?
There are so many questions when it comes discipleship. Because I am a woman, I notice specific difficulties with discipleship among women.
What I find so interesting, is that discipleship really isn’t talked about much in the Bible. In fact, the word “disciple” doesn’t exist outside of the Gospels and Acts. In the Great Commission, (Matthew 28:19-20) “making disciples” is mentioned. To make a disciple is to make a “Christian.” There is no special category for disciples. They aren’t “super” Christians, or exceptionally good follows of Christ. A disciple in the New Testament is solely a Christian (Acts 11:26). To make a disciple is to share Christ with someone, bringing them to Christ. Watching them go from death to life (Ephesians 2:1-10).
What is unique about making disciples is that it doesn’t stop when someone becomes a “Christian.” The latter half of the Great Commission talks about teaching.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
We are to lead people to Christ and then teach them how to become more like Christ. That is the command in disciple making.
SO, when I, a Christian woman, desire for an older woman in the church to “disciple” me, I desire for her to teach me how to become more like Christ.
Titus 2:4-5 is pretty clear when it comes to biblical relationships among women in the church.
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”
Older women are called to train young women. It is a command. But, there are requirements for older women. They must be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to know good (aka Christ), so that they can teach what is good (Christ). And then they can train young women.
That is discipleship. Discipleship is leading people to Christ and teaching them how to become more like Christ. Those are the only requirements for discipleship. It doesn’t need to be complicated.
In order for discipleship among women to work, we don’t need a perfect place to meet, or perfect personalities that “click,” or a special age gap in order to meet together.
In my own life, I need to free myself from the expectation that a woman who disciples me has to be perfect, or that we have to be best friends. Narrow mindedness in discipleship won’t lead you very far. In fact, it has led me to the point of not even being able to find an older woman in the church to disciple me because none of them meet my expectations. “But that is not the way I learned Christ!— assuming that I have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off my old self, which belongs to my former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of my mind, and to put on my new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:20-24).
Many times, expectations exist because of doubt. I don’t fully trust God to give me what I need. Yes, discipleship is complicated, but it is because I have made it complicated. It is not complicated at all – we must lead people to Christ and teach them how to become more like Christ. We are called to disciple and to be discipled. How vastly different the church would look today if we took discipleship seriously!