Looking back on those two years of discipleship, my heart simultaneously wants to burst and break. It truly defined every expectation I had for discipleship, the good and bad. The good: fellowship centered around teaching; fleshing out the meaning of “teaching them to observe all” that Jesus commanded, not just with words, but with actions (Matthew 28:19). The bad: reprogramming our brains from all the incorrect teachings about discipleship… mine included; fighting the ever-present, constant yearning for comfort and our resistance to surrender.
During this season, God RELENTLESSLY focused my attention on two things. First, the millennial generation hungers for truth and they have absolutely no interest in buying into what many in the Church have been peddling. Second, if they see any amount of hypocrisy in your life, your credibility is shot. Period. And those two things go hand in hand.
When we started, there were five young women in our group. By the end of the nine months there were 12. Our plan included walking through the book of Romans, but we only made it to chapter eight. Every week, these young women would sprawl out on the floor, Bibles open and pens constantly in motion. They posed question after question. ENDLESS. QUESTIONS. Many of those questions meant late nights in my concordance, or emailing my professors. Their questions made me a better teacher because they made be a better student.
Many of these women would go on to work in ministry. They became leaders in YoungLife, YWAM, and Navigators. They would move to Greece and work with relief organizations helping with the Syrian refugee crisis. They became wives and mothers determined to live out these roles with a renewed sense of kingdom purpose. They took on employment opportunities for the sole objective of evangelism. Their lives were changing and people took notice.
One night, a friend and I engaged in our own version of the “Which-Came-First-The Chicken-Or-The Egg” conversation. I began to see a correlation between these young women truly engaging in discipleship and their increased desire to surrender their dreams, and ultimately their lives, to Jesus. My friend believed these ladies already had a desire to surrender their lives, they just needed encouragement to do so. In the end, I have no idea which one of us was right… and it doesn’t really matter. Either way, the undeniable truth remains: These ladies were living their lives differently and the common denominator was discipleship.
I will never for get the words of one of these vibrant young women. Raised in the Pentecostal Church, she knew the Word of God and the “rules” of religion. But, in a moment of epiphany, spoken nonchalantly over coffee, she said, “I never actually knew what Jesus was calling me to until our group.” I still remember that moment. Seared into my mind, those words profoundly changed my life and underscored the calling the Lord placed on my life.