I woke up each morning feeling more tired than when I had gone to bed the night before. Life seemed overwhelming as we ministered on campus. Not only were the boys little, but also I was living with severe chronic pain. Due to these factors, we had to adjust my involvement on campus. How was this going to affect my desire to make disciples? Would I lose my vision for disciplemaking?
God had breathed a deep conviction into my spirit that raising our children was the most intimate form of disciplemaking. Though I valued using our home intentionally as we made disciples, I also valued coming alongside Jim on campus. For me this meant I spent time investing in women, often stealing away an afternoon or evening to meet with them away from home and the “distractions” there.
But life changed and so did the amount of time I could spend with women on campus. Since my capacity to leave home to meet with women diminished, we made the necessary decision to have women come into our home for time together.
This revolutionized my thinking about disciplemaking. Was I going to allow women into my home to see it all? Would I let them watch my children disobey? Would I let them see me react instead of responding to spills and wrestling matches? Well…yes! I realized that I had to put my pride aside and do what I could to help keep the vision of disciplemaking fresh in my life. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 became a key verse, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”
In this season, Hilary came to our home on Tuesday afternoons for two-three hours. Hilary was a grad student who had trusted Christ her senior year of college. She had spent time away from campus and returned for her masters degree. She was dear to my heart and wanted to keep growing in her faith. We would clean, cook, take the kids places, grocery shop, and finish homeschooling or whatever was happening that day. Along the way we would pray and share what we were learning in the Word.
Also, Jim knew that on Tuesdays he was free to invite people over for dinner. It helped that I knew they’d all be headed out the door together for Nav Night afterwards. Hilary would help me prepare, serve and clean up dinner. Students and staff soon were helping with cleanup too! And then everyone would leave. It was a defined amount of time where I was giving what I could while Hilary came alongside and did life with me.
While I tried to incorporate “Life, Word and Prayer” with each visit, it sometimes ended up feeling more like “hold on for dear life, try to remember a bible verse and pray that I could get through the evening!”
20 years later I have asked Hilary to reflect on those times together and how it helped her to understand life as a wife and mom who makes disciples:
“A few thoughts come to mind! The obvious: learning to host/prepare food/serve, watching your family interact (specifically you and Jim in your marriage), watching you host others. There was always space around the table. Some of the intangibles include being welcomed unconditionally, pursued relationally, prayed for, and invested in. Not only did you share the Word with me, but also your lives. I have always valued your transparency, and having that time consistently with you and your family allowed me to share a meal with a “real” family going through real life. Thinking on this…I’m reminded that I want to be doing this now with others who were once me / my age on a regular basis! Such richness!”
Here are some things that have been clarified in my thinking over the years:
1) Challenge women to be in the Word for themselves.
Our role in their lives is not that of a momma bird that does all the work of feeding the young as they eagerly wait for her to drop it into their mouths. Encourage women to “feed themselves” by meeting with God, reading His Word and hearing from Him. Give them opportunities to share what they are learning from their own time with the Lord, verses they are memorizing, and application(s) for their lives that they are gleaning.
2) Have the women come with a question or two in mind to ask you.
I find that women are not very inquisitive, so it is good for them to learn to ask questions in order to gain insights from others.
3) Ask her to pray for you.
Share prayer requests that you have and pray together. I often say, “I will pray first and then you can pray.” That way I model what it looks like to pray for her. It’s OK to ask her to put you on her prayer list!
4) Have her help you in some way.
It is costly for you to invest in her because you are choosing NOT to do something else. Can she help with the children or read books to them while you cook? Maybe she helps you cook, clean or run errands. One student taught my children a few piano lessons; another did artwork and crafts with them (my Achilles heel!). There were times I had one woman be with my children while I met with another, and then they would switch (one hour each).
5) Celebrate the opportunity to involve your children in the vision of disciplemaking.
Letting women see our ‘mess’ at home allowed them to see the reality of ministry. Crucial for our family was allowing my children to see me investing in others. The truth is that as I invested in others, I was also investing in them!
As I look back at the years seeking to be faithful with children at my knees, I wish I had not been so hard on myself. I did what I could and didn’t need to apologize about what I could not do! If I could go back, I would give myself grace and have a spirit of thankfulness that God allowed me to join Him in this grand vision of giving my life away by making disciples.
As you begin another fall of ministry, may the Lord give you grace and joy as you help to keep alive and fulfill the vision of making disciples in your home and on campus.