Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Me, a Mentor? Why We Disciple

Despite what we might hear from feminists in the culture around us, women can be useful and fulfilled while still teaching “only” women and children. It is important to remember first in our discussion about mentoring that Paul did not command Titus to disciple the women in his congregation. Rather, he commanded the women in Titus’ congregation to teach the younger women (Titus 2:3-5). There was nothing in Paul’s words that indicated that this divine calling on the women under Titus’ leadership was subhuman or demeaning. Instead it is portrayed as a great help and blessing considering that no one else was commanded to do it besides these women! We live in a world that sees emphasis on training women to be workers at home, loving their husbands and children, and being diligent in kindness, godliness, and purity as a complete absurdity. But this does not mean that we run from this command. In order for us to be driven towards mentoring and discipleship, it is helpful to first note why we disciple.

First, we mentor because God has commanded that we do so. Titus 2 exhorts older women to train younger women. This training is not necessarily a structured system, though structure might help for a season, rather it is a life on life friendship that aids a younger woman in her pursuit of her Savior. I will get into the practicalities of this in my third post, but for now we can leave it at the simple fact that God has commanded us to disciple younger women. In fact, Carolyn Mahaney encourages us to seek these relationships out when she says in Feminine Appeal, “younger women should consistently pursue more mature women to learn from their wisdom and experience. Older women should prayerfully consider the younger women that God has brought into their lives, in order to encourage and support them.”

Secondly, and most importantly, we mentor because of the Gospel. If we mentor a young woman, or are mentored, and all we learn or teach are helpful things to make our home more manageable, we have failed in the primary purpose of our pursuits—making Christ look attractive. Discipleship is not about creating empty moralists, in fact often times it is a lot easier to simply encourage behavior modification instead of a genuine heart transformation by the Gospel. This should not be our aim. Mahaney also says that our efforts in growing in godly womanhood are “required for the sake of unbelievers—so that those who are lost might come to know our Savior.”

This is our purpose in all things. We want people to see Christ as infinitely valuable and treasure him above all things. This is especially relevant in our Titus 2 relationships. There will be many occasions in our own lives and in the lives of the women we disciple that something other than Christ will rise up as treasure. If we are not intentionally involved in the lives of other believers we can become increasingly unaware of the glaring idol that has replaced our Christ. We disciple because God has created us to live in community with one another—as redeemed sinners living life on life for the glory of His great name.


Karen said...

Hi Courtney my name is Karen and you don't know who I am, but by word of mouth, I have been reading your posts faithfully and look forward to them as you update. You made a very thought provoking statement in this post that I wanted to see if you could clarify in a little bit more detail. You said, "Discipleship is not about creating empty moralists, in fact often times it is a lot easier to simply encourage behavior modification instead of a genuine heart transformation by the Gospel." My question is, how do we know when it is behavior modification that has changed and not the heart? What is the difference in practical terms? It's so hard to know because since the Bible says that our hearts are deceitful above all things, quite literally our hearts can deceive us and make us think that our hearts have changed but in reality it is just a change in behavior that looks like there has been a change. So how do we genuinely know when it is a true heart change and not empty moralism? I think that understanding this is crucial and I look forward to your response when you have time!

cdt said...

Hi Karen,

Thank you so much for your encouragement and for reading. You ask a very good question. This can be really hard to discern if you are wondering whether a person has genuinely changed. I think that the answer is that it takes time. Sometimes a person may seem to have really been changed by the Gospel but time reveals that their actions are not keeping with repentence (Matt. 3:8). This is why discipleship is not an easy task. Sometimes it takes years to see change and even more years to see evidence of that change. Even as we are waiting and trying to discern whether there has been a genuine heart change we must still encourage them in their walk, but also ask hard questions. In all of this we must rely fully on the Spirit's working in our own life to reveal to us areas that might be pointing to genuine or false transformation. I hope this helps. I think that this is never an easy answer and I have faced it on a few occasions with girls that I have been seeking to disciple. I think the short answer is that their will be evidences of fruit in their lives and a real desire for growth that will lead them to bear more fruit.

Does anyone else have any suggestions?