Maturity starts when we begin to see beyond ourselves. We welcome the needs of others as we accurately view ourselves—needy and bruised, but neither hopeless nor helpless. When we disciple another woman, we can earnestly urge her to flourish in the pattern Christ has set before us. In her book The Gentle Art of Discipling Women, Dana Yeakley counsels that discipling another involves personal authentic faith, awareness of where another is in her journey with Christ, and wisdom to bring the right spiritual food.
One basic question that every new parent faces is, “What should I feed my baby?”
Regardless of whether we want to breastfeed or use formula, I think we can all agree that milk of some sort is what every baby should start with!
Certainly we would never cram grilled salmon down our new baby’s throat, no matter how convinced we are of its nutritional value.
And we can likewise agree that we would not continue to give only milk to our two-year-old.
As we seek to feed our children wisely, we also have a major goal in mind—that every child we nourish would one day be able to sit at the big-people table and feed themselves.
In the same way, the question of what we share in a discipling relationship requires us to act as a new mother discerning how best to feed her child.
We need to pray over the woman we’re discipling and ask God to reveal where she is in her growth journey so that we may best determine what we should share.
But where to begin?
Each believer experiences several phases of growth on the path to maturity.
Understanding our own journey will help us to empathize and realize the needs of others.
And knowing the phases of growth helps us discover what help a woman needs and therefore, ultimately, what we should share with her. I call the path to maturity the B Process:
The B Process
2 Corinthians 5:17-18
Your eyes saw my body even before it was formed. You planned how many days I would live. You wrote down the number of them in your book before I had lived through even one of them. (Psalm 139:16)
Being right with God does not come from my obeying the law. It comes because I believe in Christ. It comes from God because of faith. (Philippians 3:9)
We are God’s creation. He created us to belong to Christ. (Ephesians 2:10)
Give praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. Those blessings come from the heavenly world. They belong to us because we belong to Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)
God began a good work in you. And I am sure that he will carry it on until it is completed. (Philippians 1:6)
He brought us back to himself through Christ’s death on the cross. And, he has given us the task of bringing others back to him through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:18)
We work together to serve God. You are like God’s field. You are like his building. God has given me the grace to lay a foundation as a wise builder. Now someone else is building on it. (1 Corinthians 3:9-10)
To understand the depth and the breadth of God’s love and forgiveness in our life, we first must reflect on our journey before Christ.
This story begins in our childhood.
For some, this story is full of brokenness, fear, and deep needs. For others this story starts in a home where they do not remember a time when they were not hearing about Christ.
Those who come from an abyss of woundedness often find it easy to describe their transition to faith.
Those who grew up in a Christian environment with Christian activity at every turn might find it more difficult to pinpoint where the story of their personal faith started.
But no matter our story, all of us at some time in our lives turned from trusting something other than Christ to completely relying upon Him.
This is our believe story.
Looking back and identifying what it was about Jesus and ourselves that brought us to a place of trusting helps us when we want to help others.
At some point after initially trusting Christ we step into and begin to own our identity in Christ.
We begin to comprehend that we belong to Him and are now members of His royal family.
As our identity is increasingly anchored in Christ, there is a shift forward as we step into becoming all that Christ has for us.
This process of becoming is pledged to every believer as the Holy Spirit draws them forward. Jesus promises to “make everything new” the moment we entrust our heart and life to Him.
Belonging (identity in Christ) and becoming are intertwined and can occur simultaneously. We are all in God’s process of becoming throughout our lifetime.
As we make every effort to become all God has designed us to be, He shows us that there is work to be done! Just as others have helped us to grow, now we can begin to invest in and build others.
God draws us into His heart for the world and gives us the privilege to colabor with Him through bringing others to Christ and building them up as laborers.
Discipling is part of the skill set integral to building others.
Most of the women we will disciple will be new believers stepping into their newfound identity of belonging to Christ or into the stage of becoming. We can let them tell us where they feel they are along their path to maturity.
As we enter this process of discernment with her, we can consider what “food” she needs in the days ahead.
We all know that it is God’s desire that every believer would fully mature in Christ.
As disciplers, it is our obligation to ensure that those we help receive teaching and help that boosts them toward maturity.
The Gentle Art of Discipling Women is a simple yet detailed look at our need for authentic faith and practical, intentional ways we can pass that faith on to others.
Dana Yeakley has served over forty years on staff with The Navigators discipling and ministering to women. She and her husband, Tom, have three married children and seven grandchildren. She is thankful for the women who lovingly invested in her and desires to pass on to others what they gave to her. (2 Timothy 2:2).