If you missed Part 1 “Who Do I Help” you can read it here.
Let me preface this entire post by saying that discipling is an art. A gentle one at that! So, what I feel is basic and necessary you might not! What matters most as we disciple is that we are intentionally investing the Word as we disciple. We offer this investment from our person, our design, life experiences and personality to just name a few variables!
One basic question that every mother faces is, “What should I feed my baby?” I think we can all agree that milk of some sort is what every baby should start with! Certainly we would never cram grilled salmon down our new baby’s throat, no matter how convinced we are of its nutritional value. And we can likewise agree that we would not continue to give only milk to our two-year-old. The food we offer babies and children should reflect their physical development as well as what is best and necessary for their nutritional health. In the same way as we desire to disciple another woman, we need to discern what will be the most nutritional content for her growth! I love that Peter, Paul and the writer of Hebrews liken the nature of progressive exposure to the scriptures to the feeding plan we offer our children when they spoke to others regarding their growth. From the following verse we can glean several principles that will prompt us as we consider what we should share with those we disciple.
We should not be hesitant to recognize that where a person is on the path to maturity in Christ demands grounding in certain topics. We should beware of offering biblical content that is beyond where they are. Let’s not be tempted to rush ahead. A common misstep I have taken more than once over the years is to let the interests of the woman I was discipling dictate our content. I think it was because I worried about losing her interest or boring her. But was it really best for her? Just sharing material because that is what a young woman wants would be like giving our toddler granddaughter, Emma, a piece of steak because she sees it and wants it at the dinner table! It won’t happen because it is not best for her! This is why as we commit to meet with a woman on campus, no matter what her age, we need to ensure that the basics of the Word are unquestionably strong in her life.
Because of the postmodern emphases surrounding us we must be even more diligent to share the foundational truths of the Word. We can hinder their health as disciples by not giving them the opportunity to study the beginning (milk) topics that are so fundamental to every disciple’s growth. Discipling is unique in that as we meet one-one-one there is the freedom to ponder, discuss, disagree, challenge, pray together and apply these truths.
So what are some of these “Milk topics?” Because in 1 Peter 2:2 Peter encourages newborn believers to long for the pure ‘milk of God’s Word’ I think much of what I emphasize are characteristics of the Word! Topics like: The inspiration of the Word, the Authority of the Word, The Power of God’s Word, Obeying God’s Word, Daily Time in the Word, Christ the Center, The Wheel or Hand Illustration and so on…
In spite of the need for milk we do not want those we disciple to stay as babies! (Hebrews 5:13) Let’s move onto the Toddler or Solid Food phase.
Toddler Phase—Solid Food
When you began to toddle in Christ, what topics proved vital for you and laid a foundation for you as a strong disciple in the future? You were partaking of solid food! Toddlers who start on solid food also begin to feed themselves. Toddlers also like to explore! And sometimes that can be pretty messy! Though she is still being grounded in the basics she is learning to study, interpret and apply truth in the practical areas of her life. How is she treating her roommates, family, and professors? Is she responsible in her studies and the use of free time or money? Do her actions reflect what she believes? This phase is sometimes messy and yet what a great opportunity to help her dig into the Word and apply it!
During the toddler phase I like to emphasize topics like: Prayer, obedience, faith, her testimony, identity in Christ, purity, the Holy Spirit, and so on…It may seem that topics in these two phases can overlap and that is okay! What you choose to emphasize will also reflect your own journey!
Topics we share during the Baby or Toddler phase are those things that often we as mature believers take for granted or assume them to be inherent. Over the years I have learned that when I share on these topics I do not only emphasize WHAT they should be doing but more so WHY they might do it!
During this phase she will increase in independently and accurately feeding herself and applying truth. And, she is ready to start helping others. Topics I seek to share during this time I have labeled “The Meat Phase.” They are topics like: Growing in Character, Bible Doctrine, relevant topics to the Culture, Vision, reaching the lost, disciplemaking and so on. As she walks with Christ she will continue engaging in personal growth. As she matures she will begin to see people like Christ does and step into to discipling others. As she does this she will continue to mature because no one is ever finished growing!
A Personal Story of Discipling
Since last fall I have been discipling Sandy (not her real name). Sandy, a recent graduate, had been a leader in her campus ministry (not the NavsJ). Though she had met with a staff woman while on campus she was not sure if she had actually been discipled. So, we started with “milk” topics. She especially appreciated The Wheel Illustration. I think Sandy might have heard about these truths in fragmented ways throughout her life but I sensed His Spirit leading me to help her get a firm grip on the basic (milk then solid food) truths that would ensure a strong walk in Christ as she steps into this decade of her life. Sandy had been meeting with a girl who is still on campus and they have continued meeting on Skype. She began sharing these things with her also!
Because Sandy had been a leader in her campus ministry I could have assumed that she was strong in “the basics.” I could have crammed some mighty fine wild Alaskan salmon down her throat but instead chose to offer her the milk her soul was longing for. The one-on-one discipling relationship is a unique responsibility, especially for those of us in Navigator ministries. We have been given the opportunity to impact our world through meeting with one woman in the Word with the express intent that she will ultimately be able to feed herself and then others.
There is a path for growth that Christ wants! In other scriptures we see that the goal of discipleship and therefore, one-on-one discipling, is maturity in Christ (Colossians 1:28-29). We know that God wants every woman to be complete in Christ! As we pray over those we want to help we also engage with them in order to find out where they are on their path to maturity and what they are ready for!
Dana with Tom has been on staff with the Navs for over 30 years and married over 40 years. They are blessed with six children and seven grandchildren. Dana has lived in many places throughout her life time: Florida, Maryland, Indonesia, Chicago and Colorado Springs to name a few. Dana’s loves are the Word of God, people and helping people learn.
To contact Dana please email her at: Dana.Yeakley@navigators.org