"I Just Want to Know Jesus Better."
In the past seven months or so, I’ve experienced for the first time what it is to disciple another person, and believe me, I was intimidated at first. I’ve been meeting regularly with a young woman to pray and discuss the Bible together. From the get-go, I found I simultaneously wanted to do it and was even excited about it, and I was scared. I’ve always known discipling others is an important aspect in the life of every Christian, but I didn’t know where to start. Do we need a reading plan with discussion questions? Should we start with Genesis and just keep going? What if I say something wrong?
I had more questions than these, many of which were fueled by my own insecurities. However, all my worries washed away when I told my insecurities to take a hike. I am in Christ. His grace is sufficient, and his power is perfected in my weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). With my faith bolstered by this truth, lots of prayer, and reliance on the Holy Spirit, I finally just did it.
It’s been a wonderful learning and growing experience for the both of us. I’d like to tell you about the main lesson I have learned so far. But before I do that, I’m going to tell you about how I met my friend and sister in Christ, Jannell.
My New Sister and an Answer to Prayer
Jannell is about ten years younger than me, is working on her bachelor’s degree in biology, and adores her dog, Molly. She is sweet, funny, and kind. I really like her; she feels like a little sister. Last year Jannell came to understand the Gospel; she saw that she was sinful and needed reconciliation with God. She soon came to faith in Jesus as her Savior, the one who provides both forgiveness and the reconciliation she needed. Jannell also knew she needed to be baptized. As she discussed this with our pastor, he asked if she would like to meet with someone to read the Bible together. When she agreed, our pastor asked me if I would be that someone.
Now I have to tell you that this was an answer to prayer for me. It was a quick answer too. (Those always surprise and delight me; I’m reminded that the Lord is listening and actively caring for me). I had finished getting my master’s degree in August, and I was feeling untethered and directionless, like a deflated balloon. For the first time in four-and-a-half years, I didn’t have the structure of a syllabus or the pressure of assignments. I didn’t really know what to do with myself.
I started praying, asking God to show me what my next “assignment” would be. I talked to a dear friend about this, and she prayed for me. The very next day my pastor approached me and said, “I have an assignment for you. There’s a young lady who’s going to be baptized soon and she wants to meet with another woman to read the Bible together.” Then he ran off as our mid-week service was about to start.
“I just Want to Get to Know Jesus Better.”
I desperately wanted to be prepared when I met with Jannell, so I read One-to-One Bible Reading by David Helm. This book was so encouraging and helpful! It showed me that the main goal in discipleship is to help someone grow to be more like Christ, and the best way to facilitate that is to read Scripture together.
The first time we got together, Jannell and I talked about the specifics of how we came to know Christ. Then I asked, “So, what do you want to do with me? Do you want to go through a Bible study book or… what?” Then with a half-shrug, Jannell said some of the most beautiful words I have ever heard: “I just want to get to know Jesus better.”
Suddenly it was like someone turned the lights on! I realized in this moment that I had been taking the lead and making it too complicated. But Jesus was faithful to show me what to do.
It’s Not About Me
Jannell and I have been meeting regularly since October. We finished the book of Mark in May and have started Matthew this summer. When we meet, I pray for us, asking the Lord to help us understand His Word, through the help of the Holy Spirit. We take turns reading passages, and then we discuss what we've read. However, it wasn’t until around chapter eight or nine in Mark that I realized I had been doing most of the talking. I had assumed that I knew what Jannell needed to know.
With this realization, I repented. I was taking the lead again, rather than looking to the Lord. I changed my tactics to mimic my own submission to Jesus in this process; I started to ask Jannell questions and then depend on the Holy Spirit to guide our conversations. I found that she was ready for this.
Now our time together looks very similar, but the structure of the conversation has changed. After reading the passage aloud, Jannell asks me questions. Sometimes it’s about the context, or something like, “Who are the Pharisees again? And why are they so mad at Jesus?” Other times it’s about something heavy Jesus said: “What does it mean to take up your cross daily? And do you struggle with that?” I now try to ask her questions along the lines of, “What stood out to you in this passage? How does this help you to better understand who Jesus is?” Occasionally I’ll do a little check-in and ask what she has learned so far and how has it changed her. I want her to see that our study of Scripture can’t be merely intellectual; it should change our hearts.
One of my regular prayers concerning my time with Jannell is that it would not be about me, or only about her, but that it would be about Jesus. The main goal in our meetings is to get to know Jesus better, so that we will grow to be more like him. The Holy Spirit is doing just that.
You Can Do It, Too
The point of my story is: Discipling another person isn’t that scary, and you can do it, too. In fact, if you are a disciple of Christ, you are commanded by Jesus to make other disciples (Matt. 28:18-20). Jesus doesn’t leave us to do this on our own, though. He gives us the Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide us. We need to remember that when we come to faith in Jesus as our Savior, we receive the Holy Spirit (Ezek. 36:26-27; 1 Cor. 3:16). He is always with us to help us.
I have loved the time I’ve spent with Jannell and I always look forward to our meetings with joy and an expectation that the Lord will be there with us. I have grown to see the importance of intentionally discipling others. I am prayerfully encouraging others in my church to get started, and I hope you feel encouraged to do so, too.