“When you think of someone who is going to disciple you, who do you picture?” Not too long ago, I sat across from a younger friend and asked a similar question. The description I got was someone who was “older,” married, maybe had some kids, and someone who had all the answers. Well, I don’t fit any of those descriptors.
I think that many times we have unrealistic ideas of who should be doing discipleship. We believe myths of who is called to disciple others. I hope to bust some of those myths for you and encourage you to begin seeking those that you can disciple because we are all called to it in the Great Commission. Discipleship is not a question of being old enough but of being obedient.
Myth: You have to be a certain age to start discipling others.
Truth: Whether you are fifteen or fifty, as a believer, you have been called to make disciples. 1 Timothy speaks to this idea, saying, “Don’t let anyone despise your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
Myth: You need to have all the answers.
Truth: The only one who has all the answers is the author who wrote the story of the world (Acts 3:15). So, let’s release ourselves from the fear of being asked a question that we don’t know the answer to. We were never meant to have all the answers. It is totally okay, when asked a question, to look back at someone and say, “I don’t know, but I’ll seek guidance about it and get back to you.”
Sometimes questions will be asked that we won’t know the answer to on this side of eternity, and that is okay to admit. It is encouraging to our disciples when we don’t have all the answers because it shows them it’s okay that they don’t either. They don’t need our wisdom; they need God’s wisdom. Isaiah 40:28 says, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding.”
Myth: You can start discipling others when you’re married.
Truth: Your work as a Christian doesn’t start when you get married. Paul, John the Baptist, Ruth, Mary Magdalene, and many more in scripture were all single and did amazing things for the kingdom. And let’s not forget Jesus, too. As a believer, you have been called to make disciples of all nations whether you are single or married. Nowhere in Matthew 28 does it say, “get married, and then go make disciples of all nations.”
Being single does not make you second best in the mission of God nor does it give you an excuse to wait in making disciples. In fact, singleness is a gift that we can use for God’s glory because it frees us up to give undivided attention to the Lord. You are the bride of Christ before you are anyone’s “bae”. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul writes, “I am saying this for your own benefit, not to put a restraint on you, but to promote what is proper and so that you may be devoted to the Lord without distraction” (1 Corinthians 7:35).
Myth: You will disciple others perfectly.
Truth: The only one who ever did discipleship perfectly was Jesus. You are not him, and you will never be perfect like him this side of eternity. There will be times that you fall short of what someone expects you to be. You may not always give biblically-centered advice. You may sin against those in your life. There may be times that you respond out of feeling and not wisdom with your words.
In these times, all you can do is apologize, seek forgiveness, and strive to exemplify a life that is striving after God. The best thing that you can do for those you are discipling is to exhibit vulnerable humility. James reminds us of the power of confession: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16). Let us lead the charge in radical confession and repentance in all of our discipleship relationships.
-Kenzie Allred (College Team)