One of the biggest challenges I face in discipling women as a mom is having realistic expectations for myself.
When I had two little ones, I made adjustments to the practical details of discipling like location (we moved from a coffee shop to my living room), time (from flexible to naptime), and the number of women I could meet with. With the arrival of my third baby, I decreased other commitments (like attending NavNight) to be able to give what I could to a few women.
As time went on, I had a fourth baby and my other three became more active and less sleepy. Discipling at my “normal” pace became more and more difficult. It seemed like whenever I attempted to pray and prep content, I was thwarted by naptimes gone awry, blowout diapers, or sickness. I felt pressure whenever I was scrambling last minute to prepare. When I missed a one-to-one because we were traveling or had sick kids, I would try to squeeze in a make-up time somewhere else in my week. I again would feel pressure because margin and built-in times of rest were disappearing in addition to recovering from travel or sickness.
These feelings of pressure came to a head when we had the blessing of four women on our campus in their staff training years. While I knew that meeting with four women was beyond my capacity, I really cared about these women and didn’t think there was anyone else who could do it. To try to make it work, I made some adjustments like meeting them every other week and streamlining content, but this only contributed to an underlying anxious thought that I was letting them all down. I wasn’t able to give the idealized training and discipleship experience I thought I should be giving. Looking back, these expectations I had for myself were very unrealistic—they would have been difficult to meet on my best day when I was full-time on campus! As a result, I got pretty tired trying to make it all happen.
During this time I learned two lessons. First, the Lord provides. As Dave and I prayed about the need for someone else to meet with these women, the Lord led us to a retired, veteran staff woman who had moved to Nashville to be near her grandkids. Not only was she willing and available to meet with these women, but it blessed her to do it! I thought I was the only one who could meet this need, but that wasn’t true. He provided Helen for each of those women, and He provided for me. I stepped out of meeting with women for a time. My heart to invest in women hadn’t left, I just sensed that I needed to get time with the Lord and learn what He was asking of me.
As I spent time with the Lord, he taught me I can be confidently inadequate. As I meet with a woman, I can’t meet her deep needs. If I try, I will get worn out and in the way. I can’t perfectly disciple. But in all my inadequacy, the Lord is fully adequate. I learned my role is to point women to Jesus and help them abide in Him as they walk through life. I can trust confidently in His adequacy.
I’ve stepped back into meeting with one woman this year– and I feel like I have such a different perspective. Instead of feeling anxious about leading her well, I feel expectant towards the Lord in how He will work in her life. Instead of feeling pressure to have it all together and do “it” all right, I feel free to be myself. On the practical side, I’m meeting with her outside our home during nap and rest time. Dave is working from home during these hours, so I am not having to transition the kids to a babysitter, or having to cancel if one of them is sick. I’ve not planned any one-to-ones during weeks that we travel, either.
As I seek to have realistic expectations of myself, I love Isaiah 40:11 which says, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” God has a heart to carry and care for those who have little ones. I pray each of us will experience his shepherding and gentle leading as we seek to be faithful and have realistic expectations of ourselves in both mothering and discipling.
Some ideas for content when your prep time gets confiscated:
- Pray through a Psalm together
- Share a Quiet Time
- Have some “with” time–enter her world or invite her to enter yours
- Reach out to an unbelieving student together
Linnette and her husband Dave began their marriage and Nav staff career ten years ago (EDGE and SIT at Colorado State) and they currently lead the collegiate Nav ministries in Nashville. They have four children: Kate (7), Kylie (5), McKenzie (3), and Daniel (2). Linnette and Dave are passionate about the shared mission of raising up disciple-makers and raising up their kids.
Where do you feel pressure in disciple-making? Do you think you have realistic expectations for disciple-making as a mom?