Women Discipling Women

The most glorious gathering occurred this past Wednesday – over 100 women spanning 20s to 80s coming together to delve deeper into Jesus’ glorious invitation and commission to make disciples.

Women Discipling Women, as the event was entitled, is the second of many {we hope}, that will act as a catalyst for sisters to come together, to encourage each other, to grow in Jesus and to effect change in the world.

Karen Johnson, my dear friend {and now teammate with Centered!} has led this beautiful charge, and began the night describing the logo – three arrows pointing up, over and down, conveying the message that in order to grow in our faith – to be obedient to the call of discipleship – we need “One Up, One Over and One Down”.  To be sure, this is not a new idea. My dear mentor in college, Heather, encouraged me to pursue a Paul, a Barnabas and a Timothy in my life in every season. She admonished, “if you ever feel stagnant in your faith, ask yourself these three questions; I would be very surprised if one were not missing.”

Do you have a mentor? Do you have one who is leading you into deeper waters of the soul? First off, this is Jesus. But do you have an older and wiser soul, a spiritual mother or father {like Paul} who, in the flesh, is tangibly walking with you and speaking into your life?

Do you have people you run alongside? Barnabas was known as the encourager. Do you have people who are in a similar place in faith, on the same trajectory, who you are running with, keeping pace with, encouraging and spurring on to love and good deeds?

Do you have disciples? These are not people who you are just friends with, or younger women you simply treat as little sisters {or brothers} and give good advice to, but unique souls who you are inviting to draw nearer to Jesus, who you are drawing into more of their true identity and purpose, and the fruit is reconciliation in the world and other changed lives as a result.

THIS is the glorious plan, the ONLY plan that Jesus had to infuse the world that God made and loves with the Gospel.

It is slow and messy and challenging and wonderful. And it is the charge he has given to us. It is not negotiable. It is a privilege and a responsibility for those who love and follow Jesus.

SO HOW?

The following is a summation of the most rich and beautiful talk given by RomanitaIMG_9833 Hairston-Overstreet. She described that giving such a talk was like asking a fish to describe water, as she is steeped in this work of discipleship. It is truly her heartbeat, and the words she shared clearly demonstrated a deep understanding of what it means to disciple. That said, I do not claim any of the following ideas as my own, though hope that all of them begin to be woven into my framework of understanding the glorious calling of God on my life. I pray they bless you as well…


Discipleship is more important than it has ever been. A mere observation of our world today demands that the time is NOW.

We often operate under the assumption that history gets better. However, Leopold von Ranke, German historian and the father of modern source-based history, would say otherwise. Surely, technology advances, complexity of understanding grows, but the human race does not naturally get netter. More accurately, there are great periods of renaissance, and there are great periods of famine, or “dips”.

We are in a period of time that Ranke might describe as a “dip”. We desperately need discipleship, and for those following Jesus, there are no exceptions. We need to be aware of the time in which we are living. For example, we would live differently if we knew our house was on fire as opposed to whether it was a lazy Sunday afternoon.

What time is it?!

Do we fundamentally believe that we are in a “dip” and that what we do matters in every sphere of society?

Matthew 28:18-20

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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.”

Back to the basics. This scripture is familiar, the one we have heard about making disciples, but do we understand what a disciple is?

The Greek term for disciple – μαθητής (mathētēs) – is the word we get mathematics from. It means to be an active learner. Making disciples has nothing to do with making converts, but rather making apprentices (which the Hebrew word for the disciples, talmidim,  indicates). This means that we are reproducing ourselves, and the hope is that we first are active learners. And not just actively learning anything, but specifically engaged in the person of Jesus – how he thinks and speaks and acts in the world.

It begs the question: “Is there a difference between ‘hanging out’ as Jesus followers and ‘discipleship’?

Indeed.

Discipleship is happening if there is marked growth. Are you actively growing together, toward the true purposes of God’s heart? Ask yourself, “am I different?”

Just getting along better is not discipleship.

Luke 14:27

Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

The cost of discipleship.

When people spoke of the cross in the early church, it was not just a heavy burden to bear or an inconvenience of life, but DEATH.

The fact of the matter is that discipleship will kill you.  It will cause you to die to yourself.If you are not facing death of you then you might not be discipling. (Remember that supposed 15 minute phone call that stretched into 3 hours and the rearranging of your life? Yes that.)  It will cost you your time and your energy and effort in prayer and stepping outside of yourself to climb into some one elses heart and – to truly convey to them the heart of the Gospel – the Gospel being the person of Jesus.

Discipleship does call for a balance of what you can and cannot give, to be sure, but if you do not feel the pressure of discipleship pulling on you, calling you to go deeper, to give more, to die to parts of your will and desires, then are you truly discipling?

The proof of Jesus identity is not so much found in what he said about himself, but in what others said about him – those very souls who witnessed his life and death.

Discipleship cannot be an afterthought. It must be a forethought.

1 Peter 2:4-9

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—  you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

We have a RIGHT and a RESPONSIBILITY.

We are a royal priesthood. In the same way that priests in the Jewish tradition had access “behind the curtain” into the very presence of God, we have access to the presence of God by way of faith and God’s gift of the Holy Spirit! With that, we have a great responsibility to make sacrifices… not cutting things as of old, but of ourselves.  We are the living sacrifice.

We have to expand our vision of discipleship and the impact that we could have on people’s lives if we were to love like their lives {and ours} depended on it.

The veil and partition are torn down and we have direct access to the very power of God. Do you believe it!?

Galatians 3:26-28

 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

When we ‘put on Christ’, we are made one. We feel and think and act differently. Think about putting on a bridal gown or dressing in sleek workout clothes. There is a sense of feeling elegant or strong depending on what we ‘put on’. The incredible thing about Jesus is that he changes us from the inside out. The fruits of the spirit emerge as we draw near to him.

The incredibly challenging element in this scripture however is that final statement… we all want racism to be eradicated, slavery of all forms to be abolished, but do we wrestle with the fact that gender also is hindering us from being one in Christ?

The world described here is one where there is no male or female.

Do you see yourself in your womanhood before you see yourself in your Christ-likeness?

Where have you held back as a result?

When we put on our female before we put on our Christ, we sell ourselves and the kingdom short. We all stand on equal footing with the Son and have equal access to the throne of God.

Titus 2:3-5

Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives.

When this letter is written, Paul is about to die. It is thought to be among his last writings, and thus, this letter is not random. These were highly important things that Paul was trying to convey!

There is clear direction that both the men and women, together, are essential to the health of the entire church. Teaching and exemplary living is both the responsibility of the men and the women, and in so doing, they will set an example for the health of the whole church,  the body of believers made up of men and women.

To really understand this, it is imperative to revisit Genesis 2:16-18 to see what God intended for us at the outset of creation.

Now the Lord God said, “It is not good (beneficial) for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper [one who balances him—a counterpart who is] suitable and complementary for him.”  Gen. 2:18 (AMP)

We have to note that this is BEFORE the fall. It is the only thing in God’s creation that was not good.

What Paul is calling men and women to together, even in the context of a highly misogynistic culture, is to live into who we were created to be. 

We were created to work this life out together. 

But how many places are men standing alone? Granted, some have asked to be in those places. But, there are many places where we have left men alone, abdicated our role and thwarted God’s original purposes – his intended design is for us to partner alongside, developing as women and men together, contributing to the reconciliation of the world.

In close, as you ponder these scriptures and the place God might be calling you toward in your discipleship journey, what is one area in which God might be calling you to grow? 


One thought on “Women Discipling Women

  1. Em… well done! This beautifully captures the essence of Romanita’s message… and of what we are trying to encourage women to embrace. Love you!

    Like

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