I always wanted a mentor. I was jealous of the other girls and women around me who talked about all they were learning from their mentors and how thankful they were for them. While I sometimes rolled my eyes, I silently craved to have a mentor of my own.
My ideal of discipleship involved weekly meetings, formal Bible studies, answers to hard questions, and in-depth counseling. But this wasn’t what God provided at the time. Rather, God provided me with something much less intentional, but no less formative—a family who showed us hospitality.
This husband and wife frequently invited us over for meals and visited with us in the evenings. When their family of four grew to a family of six with the addition of newborn twins, they invited me into their home on a daily basis to help around the house. I learned a wealth of knowledge from this family about homemaking, parenting, cooking, hospitality, friendship, marriage, and forgiveness that no book, podcast, seminar, or sermon could have ever taught me—and this was simply by doing life with them.
Discipleship doesn’t only take place in quiet rooms with books, Bibles, and coffee—it also takes place in the bustling homes of our fellow brothers and sisters as well.
Why Discipleship Should Be in the Home
It’s possible (and often done) to teach one another about living out the Christian life through books, podcasts, and seminars. It’s good to study the Bible with one another and discuss how Scripture instructs us to live. But it’s different altogether to watch it lived in our homes.
I read about how to train a child in the faith, but I learned how by sitting in on family devotions. I heard plenty about being a submissive wife, but I learned how to do it by watching my friend and her husband interact. I knew I was somehow supposed to care for my home and my new baby, but my friend showed me how to do both (and how to have grace when supper was late or the floors didn’t get swept). I was told the gospel should permeate my home, but I had the privilege of walking through a home that already did. I saw grace and love in action under their roof.
Books and other forms of teaching have their place, and I am beyond thankful for the ability to access so much information at my fingertips. I have learned much from my favourite authors and theologians. But there’s another level of learning to be had in the homes of fellow believers and watching them make their theology practical. You have the opportunity to ask questions, to see obedience lived out in grit of life, and to “get your hands dirty” by living it out along with them—like teaching a two year old how to fold towels while her mom homeschools the five year old. Or patiently juggling a crying baby while the mom and dad make supper. You can discuss theology at the dinner table while the children listen in and live out in real time the “one another” Bible passages. This is something a book can never give you.
To the Younger Woman
Maybe like me, you have a longing for an intentional mentor like I first described—somebody who will commit to weekly meetings, studies, and plans. But it seems that everyone is so busy. The reality is that many of these people are already committed to the first ministries God gave them: a husband, children, aging parents, a job, homeschooling, a ministry at church. It’s tempting to be frustrated with everyone’s busy schedules. But don’t be. Instead, seek to come alongside them and learn from them as they live life.
For the younger woman, I encourage you to find an older woman or a couple that you can spend time with. Don’t invite yourself over for a meal where they serve you—come to serve them. Offer help with gardening, farming, cooking, tending to children, or housework. If there’s a skill they know that you’d like to learn, ask if she can teach you. If you’re interested in homeschooling, ask a homeschooling mom if you can spend the day with her and watch how she teaches her children. Seek to love and serve the older couple or woman and learn from them as you do. Ask questions, even the ones you’re afraid sound too simple. Be willing to be a humble learner.
To the Older Woman
Whether you’re an older woman as in you’re not a teenager anymore or you’re old enough that people are afraid to ask your age, this part is for you. Don’t be ashamed that you are busy tending to your first ministries—your family, your home, and your job. This is what God has set in place for you. And if you have that desire in your heart to mentor a younger lady but don’t feel that you have time to do so, invite her into your home. Invite her over for a meal. If you need help caring for all your children and getting the housework done, ask her to help you. If you need help fixing things around the house and know a younger woman who admires your handiwork, invite her to come along to give you a hand.
This isn’t about using the younger women in your life to get things done around your home or babysitting for free—it’s about discipleship and letting them learn alongside of you. It’s about serving them with your experience and wisdom. Sometimes it’s simply inviting them over to spend time with you, to sit and talk about the mundane, suffering, or decisions. In this way you can disciple the next generation and show them what it looks like to walk faithfully in the grit of daily life.
The Two In Tandem
This isn’t a call to throw away all your books, delete your podcasts, and forget about group Bible studies. They are gifts to the church and tools for discipleship. Let’s use them in tandem with at home discipleship as well—the kind of discipleship that isn’t neatly outlined and planned, but the kind of discipleship that comes from watching another believer live in light of what God has commanded and promised.