I used to think the life of a nun in a silent monastery was pretty appealing. Nothing but praying, reading, studying, sleeping, and eating. A smile each day to my silent sisters, but then back to our Bibles!
But that’s not God’s plan for our lives. That wasn’t the model of the first generations of Christians. The book of Acts says the first church members hung out every day (Acts 2:46-47). They did life together. We continue to do life with other believers. So how do we do life together? Why does God call us to communities of Christians (the church)?
The answer is the answer to most questions about God’s purpose–for our sanctification and His glory. He is molding us into the image of His Son. And like Christ, we are called to encourage, edify, and equip others. It is the discipline of guidance, or as Teri Lynne explained it to me in an email discussion, the discipline of disciple-ing.
In your church, there are members whose “job” it is to disciple, your pastor, ministry staff, Sunday School teachers and small group leaders. But as a believer it’s also your “job” to disciple and be discipled.
- Hebrews 3:13, “Exhort one another every day…”
- Galatians 6:1-2, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens.”
- Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another.”
- Romans 15:1-2, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”
- 1 Corinthians 16:14, “Let all that you do be done in love.”
- And the most direct to us as women, Titus 2:3-5, “Older women….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 husbands, that the Word of God may not be reviled.”
Scripture is clear–we responsible for each other, to encourage and also to correct. We don’t do this on our own. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” When we are obedient to disciple others, we do so with His power. All things that pertain to life and godliness are found in His Word. When we counsel people with His Word, we cannot go wrong.
Let’s get personal now. Do you have people in your life who will tell you the truth? Who will point to Scripture to encourage you? To correct you? If not, look at yourself first. Do you not take criticism well? Are you too prideful to listen to the advice of a friend? Have you been hurt in the past and in an effort to protect yourself, you don’t let anyone get close enough to encourage or correct you? Are you being discipled? Prayerfully answer those questions. Then prayerfully look for a woman who will disciple you. It’s not east to put yourself “out there.” But as we have seen, we are to live life together.
If you can name one (or five) friends life who disciple you, it’s time to find someone for you to disciple. As Titus 2:3-5 tells us, it is expected. You are “an older woman” to someone. Look for someone in a different life stage than you are in to get to know. I call this “organic mentoring“–natural friendships that become disciple-ing opportunities. (As Erin Davis at True Woman Blog says never grocery shop alone!)
At the end of the day, I’m glad I’m not a silent nun in a solitary place. I’m smack dab in the middle of life. I have older women who model godliness for me. I have friends who encourage and correct me. And I have younger women who call me (ok, so really they text me or send me a message on Facebook) for advice. The discipline of guidance isn’t always easy (to give or get), but it is worth it for the ultimate goal of all the spiritual disciplines–to grow in godliness.