Do You Have What It Takes?!

The first time I ever met one on one with someone to spur her on in her relationship with Christ I’d only been a Christian a couple months!   I was so excited about what I was learning I simply had to share it with someone.  When I met a 12 year old at our church who seemed eager to grow we started meeting together.  I had  no idea what I was doing, but getting together to read God’s Word and talk about the Lord multiplied the joy!

Then a year later when an older woman started discipling me, I was so excited about what I was learning I asked a friend in my nutrition class if she’d like to get together so I could share this treasure with her.  She’d just become a Christian and it was such fun growing together!  And I discovered, you really do learn something better when you pass it on to someone else!

You see, you don’t need a seminary degree or years of experience to invest in other women! But Satan so loves to make us believe the lie, “You don’t have what it takes…”

But what does it take to disciple women?

1.  You need a personal relationship with Jesus!  

I’ll never forget the night I became a Christian.  When I looked at my Bible it was like reading it with new eyes!  Truly God removed blinders from my eyes and it finally made sense like it never had before!!!  At the same time God’s Holy Spirit came to live in me.  He is the wonderful counselor who is so faithful to guide and provide us with all we need to do whatever the Lord wants us doing!  And as God’s child I am heir to all His promises!  Which includes His promise for wisdom when I ask (James 1:5), guidance (Isaiah 40:11 tells us He gently leads those who have young!), strength (Phil 4:13) and provision (Phil. 4:19).  Without a personal relationship with Jesus no one can disciple for as Jesus says, “Apart from me you can do nothing!”  (John 15:5).

2.  You need to be a disciple before you can join in with Jesus discipling someone else!

A disciple is a follower and a learner – hard to learn from someone if you don’t go where they go and do what they do.  But it’s not just someone who mentally takes in facts but who makes what’s being learned the rule of conduct for her life – someone committed to living out what the Lord is teaching her!  It is a direction, not a designation.  Even though I’m on Navigator staff, if I stop following Jesus and actively learning from Him, I’m no longer a disciple because I’m not heading in Jesus’ direction.  Discipleship is not pouring facts into someone else but rather inviting them to join you on the journey as you follow Jesus, helping them learn how to follow Him too!  Hard to take someone in a set direction if you aren’t heading in that direction yourself!!!

3.  You need God’s living Word!

Being a disciple not just about following Jesus so you can go where He goes and do what He does, but it’s about being transformed to be like Him, becoming who you truly are in Him.  This process of transformation is called sanctification.  In John 17:17  Jesus prays to the Father asking him to “sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”  You see, I can’t change anyone, but God’s Word is “living and active, sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing the soul and spirit joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”  (Hebrews 4:12).  God even tells us in Isaiah 55: 10-11, “as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth, so is my Word that goes out from my mouth, it will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  Want to make certain your one on ones are of value?  Always include God’s Word!!!

4.  You need time!

Time to be available, both to meet with the woman you’ll be discipling and to meet with Jesus to talk with Him about her and get His input on what He’s doing in her life and how He wants you to join in!  You also need time to love her well and to share your life with her.  Truly more gets caught than taught!

5.  You need to be intentional, being willing to step out of your comfort zone!

You need intentionality even to get the ball rolling and start meeting with someone.  It’s not easy to take that first step and ask if she’d like to get together knowing she may very well refuse.  Even if she says yes, when you get together it takes intentionality to make that time profitable.  It’s so much easier to spend the whole time chatting!  But for us to get in the Word or to dive into praying or to do anything of spiritual value at all, well, sometimes it can feel like pulling teeth!  Small wonder since a battle is raging and the enemy so wants to rob both of you of making the most of this time…

But here’s the beautiful thing, whether you’ve been a Christian one day or eighty years, because of Jesus these can all be true of you!

As it says in 2 Corinthians 3:5-6, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God who has made us competent to be ministers of the new covenant not of the letter, but of the Spirit.  For the letter kills but the Spirit gives life.”

Do you have what it takes to disciple women?  By yourself, no.  No one does.  No matter how much training or experience they may have.

But God makes us competent.  And in Him, do we ever!!!

Taking Initiative

When we first moved to Venice I prayed asking the Lord to bring into my life someone He wanted me to disciple.  Prayer is always the best way to start the journey of discipling.

Now I never see a neon sign saying “Disciple this woman.”  Instead, it’s more like it says in Isaiah 40:11, “He gently leads those who have young.”  When someone gently leads you, there is a need to be sensitive to that leading.

It’s like when you lead a blind person – you don’t hold them by the hand and yank them where they need to go.  Instead you place your hand lightly on the back of their elbow and through gentle pressure indicate if they need to go right or left.  They still have a choice whether they’ll go that way and unless they are focusing its easy to miss such cues.

Bottom line:  it’s a process that very much involves both parties.

I find this is such a great picture of the way the Lord often leads.  He doesn’t force me to go His way.  But if I’m sensitive, if I’m seeking to know and open to going the way He leads, it’s amazing how present I find He is and He is always so faithful to guide.  The more I follow Him, the more I seek to be aware of Him, the more I am learning to recognize His gentle leading.

This requires intentionality on my part.  I find when I pray, “Lord, where are you at work?  Would you please show me and give me wisdom to know how you want me to join in?”  does this ever help!

And it doesn’t usually start with Him saying “I want you to disciple this person.”  It’s more like meeting your husband.  Rarely do people know the second they lay eyes on someone, “This is who I’m going to marry.”  Relationships tend to start with small steps – a conversation, doing things together, and in the process sensing whether you should move forward in the relationship or not.

I’ll never forget going to the Harvest Festival at Venice Bible church back in 1993.  As we waited in line to get in I started talking with the woman in front of me.  Before we even reached the front door I learned she’d recently come to know Jesus and started coming to church.

When I heard that, I asked if she would like to get together so I could show her something that really helps me in my walk with the Lord.  She said yes and the next week we got together and shared a quiet time.  She was so excited!  And so eager to learn more!  So then I asked if she’d like to get together the next week and soon a beautiful discipling relationship and friendship began!

But you know, it never would’ve happened if I hadn’t taken initiative.  First to pray, then to start up a conversation as we waited in line.  Then as we talked and I heard she was a new believer, I really sensed the Lord saying, “You’ve learned something that could really benefit her.  Ask if she’d be interested in doing this with you.”

Now the hard part about asking is you never know what a person’s response will be.  They could take offense, flat out refuse or look at you as if you’re crazy… you just never know.  It’s definitely putting yourself out there for possible rejection.  For me, that’s never easy!

One time I cried out to the Lord, “I am so tired of always being the one to initiate!” and He responded, “Now you’re getting a taste of what it’s like for me!  No one seeks after me (Romans 3:11) unless I’ve taken the first step!  And even I get rejected.”

So when people respond with no, and that does happen, I have to remind myself, they aren’t rejecting me.  I am God’s ambassador!  I’m just repping Him!  Like a mailman delivering the goods.  If a package is refused it’s not about the mailman!

It’s so important I don’t personalize but instead view it as the Lord re-directing me to someone else.  In truth I only have time to invest in a limited number of women.  Jesus discipled twelve, my maximum capacity is usually four!  So it’s really a blessing when a door closes that He doesn’t want me going through!

But when someone says yes!  What a gift it is each time I get to join in with what the Lord is doing in a woman’s life.  It truly is like a front row seat getting to see Him in action transforming her!  And does it ever make the uncertainty and even refusals worth it!

Leading A Bible Study for the First Time? Beware!!!

The first time I led a Bible study did the enemy ever have a heyday!  Honest!  After each meeting the accuser would rip me up one side and down the other, reminding me of every word misspoken, every uncomfortable silence, pointing out what I could’ve done better, making me feel like the biggest loser ever!

Thankfully, one of the girls I was meeting with one on one was in the study and I asked her for feedback – and was she ever faithful!  After I got home she’d call and talk through the study with me.  When I shared how I thought I’d blown it she’d be like, “Oh no, I think it was good you said that.  Didn’t you notice how that helped to draw the girls into the discussion?”

She helped bring perspective.  And even when I really had blown it she encouraged me to learn from it and keep pressing on.

And this was one of the freshmen I was meeting with!!!  Gracious feedback from anyone can be a huge help!

A key time when the enemy loves to attack is right when someone first starts leading a Bible study.  I cannot stress enough how vital it is that there be someone giving feedback, helping to bring perspective and process what transpired.

Otherwise it’s so easy to conclude – “See, I can’t do this!” and stop and never attempt again!  Which is exactly what the enemy wants!!!  It is so much easier to stop someone at the beginning, when it’s all new and she is struggling with insecurities anyway.

This is such a vital time when support is needed as well as feedback!

Learning to lead a Bible study is a key part of helping someone grow spiritually – you always learn something better when you’re helping others learn!  In addition, this is a key way we can help advance God’s kingdom – there is such a need for women who are willing to take initiative and get Bible studies started!

Honest!  It is amazing to me how few women in the church ever think of leading a Bible study.  So many women who’ve done Bible study for years and have so much to offer just don’t step up to the plate.  Sometimes it’s because they believe the lie they don’t have what it takes to do this so they’ve never even tried.  Other times it’s because the enemy gained a victory when they were younger and first tried…

If you are starting to lead a Bible study for the first time or if you are meeting with someone who is starting to do this, please be sure to make provision for feedback.  I cannot stress how vitally important this is!

Never forget, there is a battle raging and the enemy is a devious and deadly accuser.  Warning people in advance, giving them a heads up that he’s most likely to attack here can really help fortify their souls in advance!

You see, the enemy loves to take a little bit of truth and twist it to suit his purposes!

The truth is no one starts out as an amazing Bible study leader.  There is a lot you can learn and it’s something even after thirty years of leading Bible studies I’m still growing in!!!  If I’d waited until I could do this well to start I’d never have begun!

And in truth the best Bible studies I’ve ever been in have been facilitated, not taught.  You don’t have to be Beth Moore or Kay Arthur to lead a life changing Bible study!

Give me a Bible study leader who gives time for people to share what they are learning from the Word and asks questions to help them further process and provides an environment where people are actively seeking to apply God’s Word to their lives – that’s infinitely better than listening to the best Bible teacher and never doing anything with it!

And yes, you’re going to make mistakes.  But thankfully God doesn’t only use those who get it perfect.  As G.K. Chesterton says, “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” Please note, this is not a justification to keep doing something poorly,** remember, a disciple is a learner – so if you have a heart of a learner you are going to want to keep growing in your ability to do this and the more experience you get, the more opportunity you have to grow.

But here’s the kicker… to grow, to improve, you need feedback!  Experience alone doesn’t automatically grow you – but evaluated experience sure can!  Do you see how critical getting feedback is?

But until you get this, as you are starting out, remember what the Lord says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  And Paul writes in response, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

So here’s the irony – Satan is determined to pull out the stops to get people to never start or quickly stop leading Bible studies by attacking and making you think you can’t do this because you don’t have what it takes, but the truth is your weakness creates opportunity for God’s power to rest on you!

And with the power of God resting on you ~ is that ever an awesome way to lead a Bible study!!!


** For further thoughts on what Chesterton meant by this quote check this out:  (and I must say I absolutely LOVE the definition given of an amateur!  This so applies to raising spiritual babies too!!!)

Will You Disciple Me?

How would you respond if someone came up and asked you that question?

Would you rush to say yes and start setting up a weekly time?

Would you ask for time to pray about it?

Would you say no?  …change the subject?  …or just not get back to them?

How you respond reveals a lot about who you are, what you believe and what’s going on in your heart.

It can be a heady thing to have someone ask you to disciple them.  It’s definitely a compliment.  They’ve obviously seen something in your life that’s given them the desire to walk with you and learn from you.  A dear friend once shared with me there are three things that motivate people:  accomplishment, community, and influence.  I am primarily motivated by the latter!  Does that ever make me vulnerable when people ask me things like this!  So it’s good to know yourself and understand what might drive you to rush into something prematurely.

Prayer is always a great idea!  But do you have enough information to pray well about this?  If you have known the person for a long time, you very well may.  But if you don’t know them very well, I find it sure can help to get together with them once and learn more of their story, hear what’s on their heart and in truth as I’m prayerfully listening many times the Lord will reveal whether this is someone He wants me involved with.

But even if I do sense the Lord is leading me to meet with someone, I won’t rush to commit to meeting weekly with them right away.  As I mentioned in the August 11th Post “Where are You” I have found it so beneficial to start with one meeting and at the end give a copy of the “What is a Disciple study”  (Found in the Hello!  section).  Then I encourage them to contact me when this is completed.

Jesus had twelve disciples.  I find the max I can usually handle is four.  So it’s not uncommon for me to have to say no – because I simply don’t have the time.  Now saying “no” is incredibly difficult for me!!!   And in truth I’ve known many people who don’t handle this well – they either change the subject if someone asks or not return calls or even say they’ll pray about it and never get back to them.  These are not good responses!  Why?  Because you don’t love well when you do this!

Here are a couple thoughts that have really helped me learn to say “no” well:

1)  The Lord created time – it is not a limitation for Him – and there is always time to do everything He wants me doing, but not for things He doesn’t want me doing.  If I say yes to doing things He doesn’t want me doing, it will prevent me from being available for what He does want me doing.  Time is not the enemy.  But there is an enemy who delights to get me to misuse it.  As one friend once shared with me – if the enemy can’t get you to stop he’ll get you so busy you don’t do anything well.   If I overextend myself by saying yes when I shouldn’t everyone else I’m involved with will suffer, not just me!  And that certainly isn’t modeling being available very well for those I meet with is it?!!!

2)  Also, God’s best for me is always His best for everyone around me.  If He doesn’t want me discipling someone, then I’m not doing them any favors by disicpling them!  He has another plan for them!  And if I don’t follow Him in this, I can only get in the way!  It really is loving them well, when I follow Jesus’ lead and say no when He wants me to, even if it’s not what they want to hear.  By sharing this, I can say no in a way that keeps them hopeful and eagerly looking to see what He does have for them!

To really grasp these truths has helped so much with telling people no!   And the longer you disciple, the more opportunities you’re going to have to say no!  It’s vital you learn to do it well!

For whenever someone asks “Will you disciple me?”  it is a very important question – and not just for the one asking!

How you respond to the question “Will you disciple me?”  speaks volumes about how much of a disciple of Jesus you are!

Where Are You?

The very first question the Lord asks Adam and Eve after they sin is, “Where are you?”

He isn’t asking because He needs to know the answer.  1 John 3:20 makes it clear that God knows everything!  Psalm 139 reveals He knows us even better than we know ourselves!

So why did God ask this?  Because Adam and Eve need to know!  It’s so important to understand where you are so you can see your need and be ready for help.  And ever since the Fall we all need help!  The problem is we aren’t always aware of this.

So that’s also the first thing I ask the first time I meet with someone.  If someone has come up to me and requested, “Would you disciple me?”  a key way I “ask” this is by giving them a copy of a simple Bible study to complete called “What is a disciple?”  (you’ll find a copy posted under the “Hello!” section on this blog).  This study helps people discover what Jesus says about being a disciple and then asks them to consider in light of what they’ve learned from this study, whether they truly are one or not.

Just because someone is a Christian, doesn’t necessarily mean they are a disciple or are ready to be discipled.  If you do the study you’ll see that a disciple is a learner and a follower.  To truly follow someone you have to go where he goes and be where he is – even when that’s not where you want to be.

It’s easy to follow Jesus when he’s going the way I naturally want to go.  But a disciple follows God just like Jesus did – even when she has to say, “Not my will, but yours be done”  regardless of cost.

This doesn’t mean someone has to be super mature and have it all together!  Remember being a disciple is a direction, not a designation or a position attained.  I’ve seen brand new believers who are ready to follow Jesus wherever He leads. You especially see this in countries where Christians face severe persecution.  Under those circumstances, no one becomes a Christian unless they are ready to die.

But if you try to disciple someone and they haven’t yet truly surrendered their will, their hopes, their dreams to the Lord, you can really be setting yourself up for frustration.  What that person needs is to be followed up, to have someone come alongside and help them get to know God, understand what He’s promised and start actively taking Him up on those promises so they can grow in trusting Him until they are ready to commit themselves to following Him wholeheartedly.

I’ve found it’s incredibly telling how long it takes a person to complete this study, that’s why I always say, “Let me know when you finish it and we’ll plan to get together then!”  If they are ready to be discipled I usually hear back from them quickly.  Sometimes I never hear back.  Other times I don’t hear back until they are ready to move forward!  I will not commit to meeting one on one weekly with someone to disciple them until they’ve finished this.  I’ve found it really does help us get off to a good start!

This study is also an excellent starting place for those with a heart to disciple others.  Remember, you have to be a disciple to help someone become a disciple because when you meet one on one with them, it’s not “let me tell you what you need to do,” but rather, as Paul says, “Follow me, as I follow Christ.”

Every time I give this study to someone to do,  I complete it again myself.  Because being a disciple is a direction, I find it so helpful to keep asking myself this question.  It’s easy to get side tracked, to shift focus and not realize it.  Does this ever spur me on to keep persevering myself!  And every time I complete it there’s always new treasure, always something the Lord wants to say to my heart through it.

So where are You?  Consider yourself invited to do this Bible study.  And if you do, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The Challenge!

The first year I was a Christian I devoured my Bible daily and was super active at my church, I even helped lead a service for handicapped people on Sunday afternoons!   I eagerly read Christian books, and even joined a discipleship group where we memorized scripture and started learning about different spiritual disciplines.  But I started noticing there was a big difference between what was happening in me and in how my friends who were being met with one on one were growing.

I was eager to grow!  No doubt about that!  And putting a ton of energy into it!  But I was all over the place!

When I first asked Barb Choat if she’d disciple me, her response was, “If you can go for a month without saying yes to anything then I will.”  What a wise woman she was!  You can’t even imagine how hard that was for me, especially when my church called that night and asked if I’d design a mission program for kids!  I love kids!  And I’m passionate about missions!!!  And I love designing programs!!!  But crying out to God for strength, I said, “No.”  And kept saying, “No” that whole month.  And I’m so glad I did.

I desperately needed to slow down and focus.  When you’re talking about laying a solid foundation for a lifetime of following Jesus, slow and steady wins the race!  But I so needed outside help to be able to do this.  A dear friend once shared with me, “If the enemy can’t get you to stop, he’ll get you so busy you don’t do anything well.”   Was he ever having a heyday with me!

Barb’s challenge also made me count the cost – how much did I truly want to be discipled? And what was I willing to give up to gain this?  Every time I said “no” that month (and trust me it was a lot!), I was saying yes to being discipled!   Instead of being another activity on an already packed list, being discipled became a priority I had time for.  So when we finally did start meeting – oh blessed day!!! – I was ready and available.

What a difference it made in my life because of this!!!

Beware of letting discipleship be something people try to cram into an already overpacked life – even if they ask for it!  It will take time and energy.  Where is that to come from?  What are they willing to give up to make this happen?

One of the key goals of discipleship is helping people focus on Jesus – so they can learn from Him and follow Him.  My first step towards this was initiated by the woman who discipled me before we even met for the first time!

Getting Started…

I’ve never been a big fan of fill in the blank Bible studies.  I’d much rather dive directly into the Word and experience the joy of first hand discovery!

But there was one fill in the blank Bible study that was absolutely life changing for me:  Henry Blackaby’s Bible study entitled, Experiencing God.  A total shift in my thinking occurred while doing this study.  I went from a “do whatever your hand finds to do for the Lord is surely with you” mentality to asking, “Where are you at work Lord? And how do you want me to join in?”  And my life, and ministry, haven’t been the same since!

You see, God is always at work!  The problem is unless we’re intentionally looking (and asking!) we sure can miss it!  For just as His thoughts aren’t our thoughts, so His ways aren’t our ways!  (Isaiah 55:8-9)

I use to read Luke 2:10, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Ask the Lord of the Harvest, therefore, to send out laborers into His field” and think that field must be somewhere else!  I sure didn’t see a lot going on around me.  But when I started asking the Lord that first question, “Where are you at work, Lord?”  I was blown away at how He opened my eyes!

And then when I started asking that second question, it was amazing how many opportunities to join Him in His work came my way!!!

I recently met a woman who has been a believer for years.  As we shared about our lives and I shared about the very special women I meet with, she exclaimed, “Where are you meeting these women?!”  And I responded, “They’re just around me!”

You see, one of my all time favorite promises is found in James 1:5 where we’re told, “If any of you lacks wisdom he should ask of God who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to him.”  God is a generous giver!  He loves to reveal things to us ~ but we need to ask!

In your desire to start discipling women, let me encourage you, take God up on His offer by asking Him daily where He’s at work and how He wants you to join in.

Nearly every time I meet a new woman I’m asking those two questions.  Sometimes He may lay it on my heart to share a verse or pray with her and that’s all.  Other times He impresses on me to ask her over for tea, to listen more.  And sometimes He guides me to women He wants me investing in long term.

I don’t always know how He’ll direct at the beginning.  It’s more like a dance with Him leading, than an assignment I run with.  But it’s always, ALWAYS far, far better than anything I ever could come up with on my own!

And truly the best part of discipling women is how we get to experience God as we do this!