It’s been awhile, I know. I get busy and forget how much writing and speaking help me process life. This past week, there have been a couple milestones in the Sharp family and some exciting events in ministry. Our daughter, Kambry, turned three. Our middle son, Klement, has officially been home for two years. Both seem unreal. Our church has also been involved heavily in a local outreach effort and has seen several salvations. Praise God!! All this together has me thinking about birth and the growth that follows.
I’ve been reminiscing for several days; looking back at old photos of when Kambry was born and when Klement came home. There are so many emotions when a child enters the family. There is also a great responsibility. I recall a story a friend once shared with my husband and I about the birth of their first son. She said they brought him home from the hospital, placed his car seat with him strapped inside in the middle of their living room floor, sat down on their couch and stared at him. After a few moments, she and her husband looked at one another as if to say, “What do we do now?”
Parenting feels like that quite often I’ve discovered on my brief journey as a mother of three five and under. There are many moments when I ask myself, “What do I do now?” It is similar, at times, in the context of new believers within the church body. We lead someone to Christ, and there is exceeding joy! As it should be! But then the new wears off, and we aren’t sure what to do with this new person. The high of their spiritual conversion gives way to the real life struggle of guiding this young believer. It takes investment, hard work, and long hours. That doesn’t seem unrealistic when thinking of one’s own children, but we are not as quick to devote ourselves to the lives of those outside our immediate family.
Yet, Christ calls us to pour ourselves into the grueling work of discipleship; to show someone else, one on one, how to walk and live as a follower of Jesus Christ. Just as we would not leave a newborn to fend for itself, we also cannot leave baby Christians to themselves. They need wisdom. They need someone with experience. While we are all in a spiritual process, we can invest in someone else and also learn from others. It is a Barnabas–Paul–Timothy relationship.
Discipleship is a marathon; just like the Christian life. You can’t accomplish it in an hour on Sunday morning. It is the responsibility of the whole church, small groups, and individuals. At every turn, how is our life shaping the life of another? The process of helping someone grow spiritually isn’t easy. It takes sacrifice. It takes correcting in love. There is teaching. There are also set backs and mistakes. Sometimes there is brokenness, but God uses it all to bring glory to Himself if we are seeking after Him.
Anyone who is a parent will tell you that there are hard days, days of questioning, days of tears, and days of wonderful joy. As someone seeking to invest in others, you will have to be vulnerable and selfless. You will make tough decisions that are sometimes not understood. You won’t always be viewed as a hero. Sometimes your efforts may not be recognized at all. Still, this is where Jesus said the life of a believer was to be lived out. As God sent Christ, He sends us (John 20:21). The focus of that sending is not to simply have converts, but to make disciples (Matthew 28:19).
Today, the challenge on my heart that I share with you is how are we impacting those around us? Who are we sowing into? Who are the people we are laying our lives down for? If you can’t think of anyone that you are deliberately discipling, how can you change that? Who can God raise you up to help guide in their Christian walk? It’s not easy, but as the popular adage goes, nothing worth having ever is. So go, and make disciples.