Digging deeper in bible study, counseling, and being emersed in schooling the children has shown me so much beauty in this season of motherhood.
As I have been sharing, listening, and learning within discussion groups, discipleship has been referred to frequently. Discipleship is not a new phrase, but from our discussions, it has been a very misunderstood word from scripture. When you add motherhood to discipleship, you suddenly have two words that have, at times, seemed to be in constant opposition for me as well as many other women.
How do I live out discipleship and be a mom? I mean, I've already got a million things on my plate.
The crazy cycle of trying to fit a college student's free time and lack of family responsibility to share the gospel with others into the daily routine of getting breakfast and dinner on the table, laundry, cleaning the house, loving the hubby, oh yeah, and then let's fit an 8-hour work day in there somewhere.
It can seem overwhelming.
Can mothers be disciples? Yes.
Are disciples mothers? Absolutely.
But my hangup, as well, as most of yours, has been the prevailing notion that only associated discipleship with evangelism. Even talking with disciples and asking them to define discipleship, their first comments were:
-one who shares the gospel
-one who makes disciples
I recently saw a sign that defined discipleship: to turn all people into fully devoted, mature followers of Christ. The definition mentioned nothing of the person himself being a fully devoted, mature follower of Christ.
Some of my favorite passages of scripture focus on discipleship:
"As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him." Mark 1:16-18
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. " Luke 14:26, 27
"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31,32
What I began to see is that most Christians compartmentalize discipleship. The "you are a disciple if..." syndrome.
Yet, Jesus didn't compartmentalize being his disciple.
He simply tells us what being his disciple is and what being his disciple isn't.
If you hold to his commands, you are his disciple.
If you let go of all that is precious to you for his sake, yes, even your own life, and carry your cross, you are his disciple.
Then, Jesus commands us to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) of all nations.
Well, this got me thinking about the emphasis I've seen placed on discipleship in recent years. I've seen discipleship for many as a program, a class, or a evangelism strategy. But according to Christ, discipleship is all that you are.
There is no pick and choose.
I am a disciple, but I spend very little time loving the poor.
I am a disciple, but I don't truly love my neighbor.
I am a disciple, but that scripture is just hard to follow right now.
I am a disciple, but I look down on others.
I am a disciple, but some people are too hard to deal with.
Jesus called all to be his disciples. He even set forth that unless you can give up all that you think, whether plans, praise, or people, and kiss it goodbye to follow him, you are not his disciple.
Those are his prerequisites for true discipleship.
Thus, true discipleship is:
- love God with all your heart
- loving your neighbor as yourself
- denying yourself
- taking up your cross
- following Christ
- submitting to and obeying the Word
- sharing the gospel
- making disciples
- showing mercy
- giving generously
- submitting to Christ
- living a holy life
- being devoted to brotherly love
- forgiving as Christ forgave you
- living sacrificially
- watching your life and your doctrine
- being devoted to God and the body of Christ
...and many other commands of scripture. But, discipleship is not choosing one or two of these elements and believing it encompasses the whole of true Christ-like discipleship.
A friend recently shared with me that discipleship doesn't look the same for everyone. For a college student, without familial or job responsibilities, discipleship looks different than for a working mother. It will take a 125lb 20-year-old less time to run 3 miles than a 215lb 60-year-old. Do you think the older person gives less of an effort because it takes longer?
Absolutely not. In fact, at age 60, running 3 miles may even require more effort and more dedication.
The same with motherhood. We give the same effort but have more responsibilities in our lives, and sometimes, we give an even greater effort.
I seen working mothers running themselves around trying to live out discipleship as though they have no husband or children. Not every good examples of what living in Christ should look like. While it's not pretty, it involves suffering, sacrifice, and denial, it does not require busyness. Love binds all that Christ has called us to in perfect unity.
"...set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12
" In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned..." Titus 2:7, 8
"Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock." 1 Peter 5:2, 3
Be the example.
Christ left us his example to follow. His example was full of grace, truth, conviction, compassion, devotion, suffering, sacrifice, and love.
Dare to be a disciple and live true discipleship as a mother.