What’s In Your Pantry?!

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!


The Right Stuff!

The right tools sure can make a job easier!  Imagine trying to cut your grass with scissors?!  Or your hair with a chain saw?!  Without the right tools – at best you can end up frustrated, at worse, a bloody mess!

It’s the same way when discipling.  Proverbs 25:11 states, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” ~  is that ever true for a tool aptly given!

One friend was struggling in her prayer life – when I shared how I use index cards on a ring to record prayer requests and then take them with me when I’m walking and praying, she got so excited!!!  You wouldn’t believe the life this simple idea has breathed into her praying!

Another tool that’s really been enhancing my prayer life is the ACTS acronym.  Each night before bed I pull out a composition notebook and spend time in Adoration writing down what comes to mind as I remember who the Lord is and praise Him for this!  Then I spend time Confessing my sins.  It’s amazing how much better I sleep when I’ve taken time to agree with God about the ways I’ve blown it and how much more I appreciate Him after coming face to face with how much He’s forgiven me.  Does that ever flow naturally into Thanksgiving, which really helps fight against focusing on what I don’t have.   And then I share what’s on my heart with the Lord through Supplication.  Over and over I’m amazed at how He answers these requests.  Having a written record where I see Him in action doing this certainly does add to my joy!  Now I could pray before nodding off without this, but I find this tool really stretches me and helps me pray in ways I might not naturally.

One big difference between someone who has been discipling women for thirty years versus someone who has just started is the size of her toolbox!  In Matthew 13:52 we’re told  “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.”

Can those treasures ever be of great value!  There is so much we can learn from others!  In fact, that’s one of the things I love about summer training programs – or any place where people who love to disciple gather together – it’s such a great opportunity to swap tools and discover new treasures the Lord has given to someone else!  Can this ever save you time and keep you from having to re-invent the wheel!

But tools can be dangerous too.

Just as you can’t do everything with a hammer – there is not one tool that is good for everything or everybody!

Sometimes we can get so excited when we see the difference a tool is making in someone’s life we think everyone should be using this.  But note that word “aptly” in Proverbs 25:11.  “Apt” means “suitable or appropriate for the circumstances.”

Don’t become tool dependent, thinking “this worked in the past, of course it’s the best for now!”  Instead, make certain you are always depending on the Lord!  Only He truly knows what is suitable or appropriate for any given circumstance or person – and remember His ways aren’t our ways!

And don’t let the enemy deceive you into thinking you don’t have what it takes if there’s barely anything in your toolbox!

A discipler following Jesus with a tiny toolbox, is infinitely better off than someone with a loaded toolbox who depends solely on her tools!

You see, there really is just one tool that’s vital – the Word of God!  From this one treasure the Lord can give you any number of ideas for ways of creatively applying it!

When one of my friends went to Africa, he found the tools that worked in America weren’t as effective over there ~ and He had a HUGE tool box!  So what did He do?  He went to the Lord and using His Word discovered new ways of ministering to those the Lord brought into His life!

Even seasoned disciplers sometimes need to start from scratch!

So what does it look like to have the right stuff?  If you have Jesus and His Word you’re good to go!

But don’t dis the tools – seek to keep adding to your toolbox all you can – for when you use them as Jesus directs they can be an amazing help!  Just never rely on them instead of Him!