One of my friends has an amazing pantry! It’s so big you can walk into it! But the best part of all – there is a place for everything and everything is in its place. When she needs something she knows right where to go! Even better, when someone pops over unexpectedly she can go in there and get the goods to whip up something delicious right on the spot for she keeps her pantry well stocked!
What a difference a pantry can make! If you don’t have one, you end up sticking things wherever you can! And if you have a tiny one that’s not organized, it’s so easy to lose things, forgetting they are even there!
Do you have a pantry? If so, what shape is it in? And what impact does this have on your life?
And what does this have to do with discipling women?!
There’s a fascinating verse in Matthew 13:52 “And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a house who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
Oh how I encourage you to spend time camping out in that verse asking the Lord to open your eyes so you can see wonderful things in it!
I’ll never forget when Barb Choat was discipling me she shared this verse and challenged me to take time to create a “pantry” writing down in an organized way the treasures that have helped me in my walk with the Lord. Now I am not God’s gift to organization, but I can’t begin to tell you how helpful this was… and continues to be!
There’s not one right way to organize a pantry. In fact, if you google “organize your pantry” or go to youtube you will find tons of articles and videos on how to do this.* This isn’t about getting it right, but getting it down! And getting the stuff that’s benefitted you into a usable format, where you can remember it so you can pass it on to others!
For example, on my “prayer shelf” I have prayers from scripture, the ACTS acronym, 100 Descriptions of God handout, Praying for My Husband handout, a daily prayer journal featuring quotes from E.M. Bounds that really spurred me on in my prayer life that I condensed into a booklet I can share with others, an article on rewriting Psalms in the first person, a video by Philip Yancey on prayer… and a host of other treasures!
I always start with asking, “What’s helped me?” I don’t put in my pantry things I haven’t used. What a difference it can make when you minister out of the overflow of your own life!
When I first start meeting with women who want to learn how to disciple others, I will often ask them to compile their pantry. First, it helps them see they really do have a lot more to offer than they ever dreamed! It’s just behind the couch, in the hall closet, under the bed… metaphorically speaking! But once they start praying through what’s helped them grow and start filling their pantry shelves, its neat to see their excitement realizing they already have stuff to share!
Secondly, it helps us see where her strengths and weaknesses are – especially what areas in her life might need strengthening. And keeps me from planning something for our one on one she’s already done!
One other benefit in compiling a pantry is it gets you remembering what helped when you first started out. What’s helping you today may not be the best thing to help a new believer get started.
On each “shelf” I include everything from articles, to videos, to books, illustrations and stories, to handouts and tools I’ve created or picked up along the way that help me.
Here are some ideas for categories or “shelves” you could use to organize your pantry:
You could organize an entire section calling it “The Word” and have a shelf for scripture memory, another for Bible study, another for meditating, another for application, another for quiet times and also extended times with God…
You could also have a section dedicated to character: with a shelf for patience, another for perseverance, another for humility, another for kindness…. and place on each shelf things that help you grow in each area.
And speaking of that last shelf be sure you include shelves for each of the categories listed in Titus 2:4-5!!! Remember this is a key list revealing what the Lord wants older women teaching younger women – so you could have a shelf for loving your husband, another for loving your children, one for being self controlled, another for pursuing purity, as well as one for being busy at home, kindness, and submission.
If you’re not a visual learner or artistically inclined, your “shelves” can be lists! In fact, even if you are artistically inclined you may find starting out with lists helps you know how much space to allot for each section.
And it’s ok to have empty shelves!!! The Lord may actually use these to spur you on to grow in new areas! And yes, empty shelves can be humbling too… serving as a great reminder there’s always room to grow!
And just like with kindness, some of your shelves may overlap! That’s always the tricky part for me in putting a pantry together! Just remember, you don’t have to do this perfectly! The idea is to know what you have and be able to find it and be reminded of it so that it’s even more usable! When you’re praying about what to do with the woman you meet with this can be such an incredible help rather than just hoping God will bring something to mind from out of the blue!
Other shelves can be for evangelism, fellowship, obedience, assurance of salvation… as well as conflict resolution, forgiveness, love languages, personality types… whatever is of value to you in growing as you follow Jesus!
But I will say one of my favorites and most used is “Trusting God” which is filled with God’s names (“those who know your name will trust in you” Psalm 9:10) as well as His promises and creative ways to help a woman learn about these and incorporate them actively into her life so she experiences how very great and precious they are, and so they help her grow in trusting the Lord (for more on this see the article in the “Helps” section entitled “Promise Based Follow Up”)
Just as each person’s journey is unique so are the materials the Lord uses to help her grow – and you grow! This is why every woman’s pantry is going to be distinct! I have a huge prayer shelf! Prayer played a key role in me coming to Christ as well as in my daily walk with Him. I don’t have as much on that busy at home shelf…
This is why it can also be helpful to encourage those you disciple to get time with other women too! For example, if someone you’re meeting with was sexually abused but you never were, ask the Lord to bring into her life another woman who can share with her what’s helped her deal with this – that may be through a book or in person, but don’t feel like you have to be the only one pouring into her!
And note how it says in Matthew 13:52 “new as well as old!” Don’t let your pantry get static! A disciple is a learner! We are to continually be adding to this! When I come across an area where someone I’m meeting with wants to grow but I’m deficient in that area I often arrange for us both to meet with someone who is strong there – so we can learn together!
And this has always been one of my favorite things about conferences and summer training programs as that provides a time when a bunch of disciplers come together and you can ask “What’s in your pantry?” learn from each other and exchange treasures!!!
Now some tools you may feel like you have a better grasp on than others so when creating your pantry, you may want to pencil in things you’d like to get more practice with and then put in bold those things you use regularly and have down pat.
Like my quiet time – I’ve been doing that nearly every day for 3o years so it’s bold on my chart! But a new tool I’m currently learning is coaching, where you ask questions rather than tell – I know, sounds pretty basic, but it’s opening up whole new opportunities in helping “adolescent” and more mature believers who have a good foundation but are still in need of some guidance. I’m still very much in the early stages in learning how to do this well so I’m just penciling that in on my pantry. I can pass it on but not in the same way as I can quiet times!
See your pantry as a work in process, a lifelong work in process!
So what’s in your pantry? Let me encourage you, if you don’t yet have one, create one! Has this ever been of benefit to me and those I meet with!
*Taking time to consider a real pantry can help you create a written discipleship pantry! One person who has helped me learn how to organize is Susan Stewart. You can see her video on “Organizing your Pantry and refrigerator” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fY9GVH3a7VY
And here’s a link to a fascinating article with links to 14 pantry makeovers! One key thing that stood out to me while reading through some of these… it wasn’t easy and they didn’t always get it right the first time, but kept trying until they found something workable!