A few years back, I used to love meeting up with people in small groups and talking about Jesus. When I was single I enjoyed the privilege of easily meeting with people and sharing Christ in any situation. See, I used to think discipleship happened when I met people in a small group and focused on a given topic with an action point at the end of the meeting. But I have come to realise something different. When Jesus commanded us to make disciples, he did not prescribe it to be in a small meeting, big group or in a taxi. This makes discipleship relevant to all ages and stages. If you were (or are) like me, you would find yourself disappointed when new demands of life mean that you don’t meet up with people as much as you used to. Too many Christians who used to share Christ in their youth become bench warmers in church as soon as they get married, have children or start work. But the key to overcoming this disappointment is understanding this: discipleship is a lifelong mandate that looks different in every season.
Now I am no longer single and I have been given a precious gift, a gift I should love and disciple: my daughter.
Motherhood as discipleship means teaching my daughter to love and obey Christ. My daughter just turned one and even though she can’t speak yet, God wants me to love her and lead her in the way of the Lord. This includes setting up practices and things that introduce her to the fact that there is a God, we are sinful and we need him. I can do this by regularly praying, reading the Bible and apologising when I am wrong.
Motherhood as discipleship also means sharing the gospel with other mums. I have realised that having a child is a conversation starter that allows me to share the gospel at the clinics we go to for immunisation. I have the opportunity to talk to other mums in the queue for almost a whole morning! In our culture, being a mum is not an important thing. I find myself meeting mothers who look down on themselves, mothers who shout at their kids, mothers who compare their kids to others. Mothers always ask me how old my baby is and then say, ‘Wow, she is big, not like mine. Wow, she is more beautiful than mine.’ This shows the need to come alongside other mums to encourage and teach them about God and tell them how we can parent our children as God parents us. We can then shift our focus from comparisons to accepting our children’s differences and loving our children as God does.
Discipleship is possible in the season of marriage. In Titus 2:3-5, Paul encourages Titus to teach older women to train younger women to love their husbands and children and to train them unto godliness for the sake of the gospel. Women’s ministry is a big area of discipleship. The gospel is at stake here - it is for the sake of the gospel that Paul encourages older women to teach younger women. Women must seek out others for the purpose of training and helping them love God. Older women need to train younger women on what it means to follow Christ in our context and how to live a God-pleasing life. In my current season I need to make disciples, firstly of my daughter and then of other mums or parents. There is a need to teach mothers how to love and follow Christ. As we share Christ with parents, this will change how they respect their husbands and disciple their children.
Making disciples is a way of life in every stage of life. Thus discipleship is a lifelong mandate that looks different in every season. So what is your season? Are you making disciples? What are the challenges that can become an opportunity for sharing Christ? What are the blessings you can use as a way to reach others? May God help us to glorify him in every stage of our lives.
Tjino Endjala lives in Namibia with her husband Thomas and daughter Eimi. Tjino and Thomas both received bursaries through Crosslinks to study at Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary. Thomas is now the pastor of a church in Windhoek.
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