By Brianne Fanelli
My mom, who passed away from cancer a few years ago, was probably the pinnacle example for discipleship in my life. She worked over 20 years at a small, family-run Christian bookstore. She spent more time in the break room praying for people, hearing their stories, and giving them hope than she did selling books. Sales, advertising, hot book topics were secondary to her love for people. This is what brought in the patrons of the store. They knew they would be listened to, they knew they would be prayed for, and they knew they would be lovingly cared for.
As I have been studying what discipleship looked like in the Bible, my first observation was that there is not any quick description of discipleship. I was surprisingly pleased by this.
In the Bible, the Lord modeled discipleship, as did his own disciples, in a way that left the door wide open for love to be demonstrated in so many ways. Love that was intended to direct the people they encountered to live a life with Christ. I found this to be so encouraging because there is not one magic formula for meeting the needs of people.
Without a doubt, what we all need is Jesus and to be directed toward Jesus. This would be my thesis statement for discipleship.
However, everyone’s lives happen in seasons. These seasons may determine the means by which someone gives. These seasons also shape the ways people need other people.
So how do we as Christians know where to start? If there is no specific step by step description, how are we expected to accurately interpret the needs of others?
To start, I don’t believe you can fully represent Jesus if you aren’t walking with others. Shaping your lives around others. Opening your heart to the pain of others. And making sacrifices of your time and finances for others. Discipleship is a people practice. And people can be hard.
By nature I am more of an introvert, an observer. I’m not drawn to be in large groups; I don’t care to be the one talking. I gain my strength from quiet places. And yet the Lord has directed me to serve among people. I am a principal and teacher, married and a mother of four. I don’t believe there are many minutes in my day that aren’t poured out for people.
Even for those like me who naturally fight against our flesh in the practice of people there is an encouragement. The beauty of discipleship is that we are given the Life Source. Jesus Christ.
He renews and he refreshes.
He moves through our veins and pulses throughout our body.
He instills in us the love for people that we so desperately need, in order to do discipleship well. So that we will walk alongside others well. That we might love others in their hurt, celebrate with them as they conquer their hurdles, and direct others to the hope of Jesus.