This is a question that has been swirling around in my head these last few weeks. Why, might you ask? Well, I’ve realized that what I once thought it was, I now know it is not; it’s so much more. I used to think it was fairly flat and one dimensional and consisted of the “must dos” of the faith: read your Bible (check), go to church (check), prep and lead small group (check), give some of your money to the poor (check), share the gospel (check), and squeeze in some check-in time with the small group girls (check). Notice how my original thoughts were all centered around a check list of dos? Not that these elements are bad, but somewhere along the way of the past five+ years, God obliterated this view of discipleship and started building a new one. One that consists of pain at times (as shattered dreams and changed hearts sometimes bring pain), but insanely more joy that makes the pain completely worth it and it's so much fun! And one that doesn’t necessarily look a certain way, but is fluid and shifts based on the Lord’s direction.
So here is what I know today about discipleship (from my experience):
1. Discipleship isn’t simply leading a small group, it’s daily spending personal time with the Lord to know and allow him to change you, and then asking him to use you to ignite hearts and souls for him
2. Discipleship isn’t about walking the road alone, it’s about living in community yourself so you in turn can teach and lead others
3. Discipleship isn’t loving or serving with the expectation of a response or even a thank you, it’s knowing that all the time, sweat, and tears is for a greater good and a greater reward
4. Discipleship isn’t putting in an hour a week, it’s investing countless hours with a group of sometimes crazy middle/high school girls with the intention of helping them feel known and loved
5. Discipleship isn’t trying to convince anyone into following a list of dos and don’ts, it’s praying earnestly for God to change hearts and build into each girl a unique heart for only him
6. Discipleship isn’t skirting the hard things and being afraid of how a wavering girl may respond, it’s being committed to Truth and loving a girl in ruins so much that sometimes it leads her to despise you
7. Discipleship isn’t keeping quiet about your deepest, darkest demons out of shame or fear, it’s humbly sharing, praying that the Lord will not return your authenticity void, and reveling in the way that he uses it for his good
8. Discipleship isn’t avoiding the girls who are sometimes hard to love, it’s recognizing each one is precious and worthy of love, and knowing God will work through each one uniquely
9. Discipleship isn’t giving up on a wandering child, it’s praying earnestly for her heart to return to him and celebrating the tiniest step of surrender
10. Discipleship isn’t being serious all of the time, it’s about fun, joy, goofiness, and playing because God created and desires us to have fun, too!
11. Discipleship isn’t being selfish with your time, it’s availing yourself for a girl who needs to share or cry or simply to receive a hug
12. Discipleship isn’t about our comfort, our praise, our glory, it’s about bringing glory to the name of the Lord.
Ultimately, discipleship isn’t about us, it’s solely about God’s purposes. The road isn’t for the weary or the faint hearted, it’s for the one who admits she is weak and requires her Savior’s strength when times get tough and who praises God's name when things are easier and fun.
And it is so worth it.