“Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7
The sphere of education reaches far beyond the walls of schools or the pages of textbooks and into the mental, emotional, and spiritual formation of a young person. Scripture calls this discipleship.
In Acts, we see the believers together “All in one accord” and later we see Paul mentoring Timothy. Paul even instructs in the book of Timothy on how to structure discipleship, for older men to instruct younger men and older women to set an example and teach younger women.
My life has been profoundly shaped by the education in personal discipleship.
When I was a freshman in high school, an older woman in the church, Mary, asked me if I wanted to meet her for breakfast once a week for a while. We started meeting before school every Thursday at a local restaurant. And Mary just… listened to me. I shared what was going on in my life—the tension of growing independence as a teenager along with the growing need for dependence on the Lord. By the end of breakfast each week, she would ask a few pointed questions, such as how I could apply scripture to the situation I’ve discussed, how am I praying for the person who is frustrating me, and do I feel like my actions do or do not align with the Biblical principles of righteous living.
I had to get really honest really quick. Mary never accepted any halfhearted answers, and she was quick to call me out if she felt I was covering something up. It was uncomfortable. But it was beautiful—the challenge to let the Spirit search my heart and lean into Christ shaped my spiritual habits for life.
From those times I can honestly say I’ve experienced the Holy Spirit just as much while sitting in a vinyl booth as I have in a church worship service. That’s not a fluke—the Church isn’t a building, it’s the Body. Every Thursday morning at 7:30 we lived out the verse “where two or more are gathered in my name, so I will also be there also.” We got into the nitty gritty of life: When I had a big sin revealed in my life, she was the one I confessed to, and she helped me walk through Biblical repentance and restoration. She was the person I talked to and prayed through the first feelings I had for the man who is now my husband.
Our weekly meetings continued every week for the next four years of high school, and then every time I came home from college.
From a non-Christian perspective, why would a woman with a full-time job and family responsibilities spend years of her life hearing about teenage drama? Because Mary, a Christian, didn’t subscribe to such a perspective: she boldly followed God’s design for discipleship. She diligently poured into me every week to show there is no ‘junior’ Holy Spirit and taught me that I am responsible for being obedient to the Lord in all situations. I learned to examine my experiences, feelings and issues in the world to see where God was at work growing me or pruning me. She showed me how to mold my heart to scripture, instead of bending scripture to my own will.
This deep learning and molding is only possible through personal and relational discipleship.
My time with Mary prepared me to receive mentorship from other women throughout my life, and when I was paired up with a younger woman to mentor in a college program, I already knew how to listen, ask questions, and pray with her. I’ve gotten to give her insight into being engaged, getting married, and transitioning from college into the workforce. We have been friends for three years now, and the Lord has grown us both immensely through the relationship.
God didn’t design our lives to be lived in separate cohorts. The Body of Christ is all one system, with each part needing to be linked to the others for support, growth, and direction.
Let’s pray together.
You are the God who sent the fire of the Holy Spirit upon the believers who were all in one accord at Pentecost. They were not separated by age or vocation—they were unified in their faith. Give us the heart of Paul, who loved enough to mentor, who listened intently to the joys, the struggles and the needs, and shared wisdom from the Spirit. Give us the heart of Timothy, who boldly bared his heart to his mentor and who submitted to the call to lay aside earthly passions and draw nearer to Christ. Open our hearts to the call to discipleship, to in turn open up our schedules and our lives to the brothers and sisters in the body.
In Jesus name, Amen.
Peace and blessings,
National Day of Prayer Task Force