Discipleship: More than Just a Buzz Word

Pete, Repeat, and Echo.  These are the “endearing” names my husband calls me and my two oldest daughters. Our eight-week-old is already cooing and cawing along with the rest of us, now the newest member of our babbling tribe of Bailey girls.

When my oldest daughter, Madeline, stayed with my parents in Virginia last summer for a week, my mother regularly sent me pictures and videos of Madeline playing. What made the videos so entertaining was that my daughter was totally immersed in her imaginary role as . . .  yes, you guessed it, yours truly.

Now, months prior to this, I was knee-deep writing a book about the lies Satan tells women and how we can use Scripture to fight against him. Frequently, I discussed chapter names, taglines, and memorable phrases with others while Madeline was within ear-shot, listening.

In her “office,” she informed my mother that she was a writer who told women about Jesus.  When she talked on the old flip phone Mom gave her to play with, the “conversations” went something like this:

“Hey Girlfriend!”                                        

 “Katherine (baby doll), stop hitting your sister.” “Girl, you know that is just Satan. Let me pray with you.”                                                                            

“Abigail (sister), stop your whining or I am going to put you in time out.” “That is just a lie from the Enemy so don’t you believe it.” “You are a child of God, and He loves you.”                                                                                   

 “Girls, get down from there!” “Oh heavens to Betsy, I have to go, my girls are making me lose my mind!”

Yes, she is only four, but she has the memory of an elephant and can do impersonations like a professional, so her reenactment as “Momma” was pretty much spot on.

All of us influence others whether we realize it not, especially those who are younger. They observe our actions and copy them because they want to be like us. When young children are asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up,” not surprisingly, they readily reply, “a mommy or a daddy,” more often than not.  

Most Humans were created this way, to be natural followers. We imitate those we see around us. Remember middle school? A good day was just blending in with the crowd best we could, looking and acting like the popular person everyone wanted to be, for better or for worse.

God refers to His followers as sheep and Himself as the Good Shepherd. Y’all, sheep are not the “brightest crayons in the box.” Shepards must relentlessly guide and rescue their flock because they constantly stray and wander off into danger. Left to fend for themselves, most sheep would not survive, pure and simple.

Ultimately, we, like sheep, must keep our eyes on the Lord, our Shepherd, who tends to us daily and leads us in paths of righteousness. Furthermore, the Bible also makes it clear that we are to shepherd or disciple others. This command does not discriminate. Regardless of age, gender, race or socioeconomic standing, we have a responsibility to lead others to Christ and help them walk in His ways.

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “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: 16-20

But, how can I “go” with three small children? How can I “go” without formal training? How can I “go” without a bottomless bank account?

After sharing my personal dilemma regarding these verses with my pastor, he explained to me that the word, “GO,”was not so much a verb, but rather, a noun.  A COMMANDMENT. Jesus commands His followers to go tell others about Him, to go help people in time of need, to go love them.

Recall what I shared earlier about my daughter. She was watching me, not just that day, but every day. She hangs onto every word, every action and every reaction.  She imitates everything I do, the good and the bad.  

Guess what? People beyond the walls of our homes watch us, too.  We grownups have a Christian duty to demonstrate to others, especially children and young people, how to live God-honoring, Christ-centered lives. How? By inviting our Heavenly Father into our daily routines and filling our hearts and minds with His words. This equips us to shepherd or disciple those the Lord places along our paths, in our sphere of influence.

True, this begs the question, “Are we following Christ”? Are we imitators of Him or someone else? Do our lives mirror Jesus so that others reflect Him, too?  

No doubt you are thinking, “Laura, you make this sound so easy, yet I find it difficult.” Well, the principles are quite elementary, but being a good shepherd every day is hard because basically, we’re all selfish.  Discipleship takes time, effort and commitment. It often requires us to love people who don’t love us back, and that’s probably the most difficult aspect of all.

But let’s be honest, doesn’t that describe our very own relationship with the Lord? Thank goodness He doesn’t give up on us or turn away when we stray and act like we don’t love Him because of the sinful choices we make. He loves us unconditionally, even when we reject Him and run from His love over and over.  Our Savior, the Good Shepherd, tends to us regardless.  Sometimes it involves discipline, which is God’s way of proving that He loves us and we belong to Him.

In a nutshell, that’s discipleship — helping others to grow in Christ and experience the immeasurable grace, mercy and love God freely bestows on us every single day.  Remember, Jesus commands us to make disciples. This isn’t optional.

My challenge to you is to ask the Lord to place on your heart the name of someone you might be able to encourage and strengthen in the faith. Then ask Him to bring to your mind the name of someone who could possibly do the same for you. Write those names down and pray over them, but more importantly, reach out to these two people. Start with a call or a note. A few words may open the door to a life-changing relationship. When possible, meet together. Invest time in each other’s lives by sharing spiritual insights and bearing one another’s burdens. Think quality over quantity.  

Your sphere of influence is enormous. Those you can impact for Christ are right under your feet, so you need not go far, JUST GO!

Stay in Touch!

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