She wore perfectly applied, deep wine colored lipstick and had flipped blonde hair. She was young, just five or six years older than I at the time, and she was stylish and profession. She totally intimidated me. It was my second semester at Azusa Pacific University, and I had signed up for a new mentoring program called “Heart to Heart” that paired women in the community with female students. I didn’t have a firm concept on what mentoring was, but I knew it was a good thing, and I also knew I felt lost navigating college—I needed help, so I signed up. We met for an hour once a week during the course of the semester. By the end of the semester, she still intimated me.

Since this blog is called “Women Disciples,” it only makes sense that the first in-depth topic we cover is discipleship. But what is discipleship? Does it relate to mentoring, a more common word? Mentoring and discipleship are words that are often thrown around and used interchangeably in Christian circles, but it is sometimes difficult to land on a consistent definition of either. For the purposes of this month’s series of posts, I define mentoring as meeting with someone one and one (or in a small group) to pass on knowledge, wisdom, experience on a particular topic or focus. Mentoring happens in the church, workplace, home, and community. Discipleship contains this as well with an added spiritual component. When we engage in discipleship, we may pass on knowledge, wisdom, and experience, but we our purpose is to point the disciplee to Jesus; hopefully in the process, both the discipler and the disciplee become more like Jesus. I’ll primarily focus on discipleship this month, but I’ll distinguish if a program or purpose was mentoring instead of discipleship.

Discipleship is one of my favorite topics to cover and my favorite activity to engage in because experiencing discipleship has so transformed my life. I wouldn’t be the same if people had not generously given precious time to know me, walk with me, challenge me. It’s an area that I want to continue to grow in and see others be empowered and impacted by it. As followers of Jesus, we are all called to disciple. We don't need a burning bush moment (Moses) or spend three days in the belly of a whale (Jonah) for God to get our attention on this topic. The last instruction Jesus gave his followers was, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). The is for everyone, everywhere, always.

In the next month or so, we’re going to dig into this passage and look at a few discipleship relationships in the Bible. I’m going to share some personal stories, including successes and failures in discipleship. Since discipleship is active and dynamic, we’re also going to look at some practical ways to disciple and be discipled. I’m thrilled to go on this journey with you, and I can’t wait to hear your stories and questions. Let’s move.

Movement Step: Reflect on your understanding of mentoring and discipleship. How would you define it? How have you experienced it? Understanding our own experiences and framework for discipleship will help us become more strategic and successful. Pray and ask God to open your heart and mind to what God has for you in the area of discipleship.