Dedicating Ourselves to Others
Dedicating Ourselves to Others
A Processing on Letting Mentors into Our Lives
BY GRACE ALLEN
I spend a lot of my time thinking and pondering and examining my relationships, especially the kind purposed for discipling me. Thoughts of them and the relationships themselves abound in my life.
I'm not sure how I got to be the one who has as many great disciplers and mentors as I do now. I’m the woman whose childhood church believed more in counseling than discipleship — a way to recover rather than prepare. It seems that something shouldn’t add up. Did my late exposure to discipleship come too late? Or did it come right on time from the right people?
I often wonder what church would’ve been like had my dad not been a pastor, had my parents not been involved in ministry. I relied on my parents to teach me everything about my faith and what it should look like. What if I had a discipler through my teenage years? I wonder how my thoughts would’ve formed, how my faith would’ve grown, how my heart would’ve learned with a mentor by my side.
It’s not that I didn’t have this example modeled to me in my family; I did. I simply didn’t know what faith in Christ looked like outside of my family.
But I only had to wait until college, until the age of 21, for my wondering to cease.
I remember one evening in particular.
Mondays were always the busiest days of the week. Class all day, mission training all night. In between, finding time to eat, exercise, do homework, respond to texts, answer emails, write stories, edit stories, and organize the sports section of the university newspaper. But there was always a moment of rest, an hour or so in the midst of the chaos of every Monday where I got to talk about my passion. And the person talking back saw more than the storyteller; he saw the person I would become.
He cared. And he wanted me to care, not only about my character as a storyteller but as a person, as a child of God, as a disciple of Jesus. Every time we talked, he encouraged me.
It was so subtle, to the point where I didn’t realize what was happening until I recapped a conversation with my mom. I was walking to one of the restaurants on campus, talking to her on the phone, and I felt suddenly as if I was overflowing. Not overwhelmed, overflowing. My time spent with my professor discussing storytelling had truly ministered to me that evening.
I left college with the hope I would find more people, outside of my family, who would show me what it looked like to live a life owned by God Himself.
Having this example of a strong Christian who poured into me, caring for me, lending me wisdom … it all gave me hope for future relationships, hope for my future with Christ. Maybe I could survive life with Christ. In fact, maybe I could thrive. Perhaps this is where the church would’ve played a bigger role, showing me an example of God’s kids looking out for one another, caring for one another, modeling a deep and abiding faith in Christ.
But I wouldn’t have a church example like that for another year.
At this time, I found myself a part of a church wholly dedicated to the health of each believer, not merely as a way to fix, but as a way to strengthen before any repairs were needed. I signed up for one-on-one women’s discipleship and was paired with an older and much wiser woman who walked with me through some of the hardest months of my life.
Our once-a-week meetings were a point of relief for me. She listened to me, prayed for me and, as a true sister in Christ, she helped me look at everything through the lens of God’s Word. She loved me. She modeled Christ to me.
Since that time, I’ve been blessed with friendships galore, people who I find myself discipling and being discipled by. And every time I talk to one of these sweet friends, God puts something in the mix that allows us to connect even more. On multiple occasions, one or another will take on the role of pointing me back to Christ, and I get to do the same for them.
It’s mutual discipleship at its finest.
But as I write this I am coming to realize something. In His ever so subtle ways of working things for His purpose, God has kindly presented an opportunity for me to be a mentor, a discipler to not only one, but two groups of young women for the coming year. He plans to use me as an example of a sold-out life.
To think about it both excites and terrifies me. Do I have a strong enough faith to serve as a consistent example? Do I have what it takes to model Christ for these ladies? Have I been mentored or discipled enough?
Do I live a life owned by God?
I think God has prepared me in more ways than I’m even privy to at this moment. And to think I wouldn’t be at this point without my mentors, without those who took the time to disciple me.
Through my mentors and disciplers, I know the power of dedicating myself to others. I can work to prepare a safe place for them, just as they did for me. I can try my best to hear them, not just their struggles. I can give my best effort to love them and model who Christ is.
I am going into this year with this thought at the front of my heart: To be in a relationship where discipleship is present is one of the deepest human connections we can have. It pulls all those involved closer to Christ. It gives us an outside perspective. It lends us wisdom. It helps us grow. It is invaluable.
It is a risk worth taking.
PRIMARY PHOTO BY CHRISTIN HUME
SECONDARY PHOTO BY CHARLES DELUVIO