But what exactly is discipleship? How does it come about? Where does it happen – on the sea, in a home, along the path?
For me, discipleship happened in the small town of Hepburn, Sask., through paper-writing, long talks over tea, early morning prayer times and sharing three common meals a day. I was shaped and molded into the image of Christ within a vulnerable community that sought God together.
But this is certainly not the only way! The Father is incredibly creative, and draws people to himself in all kinds of ways from programs to cross-cultural experiences to mentors in local churches.
It is often through these friends that we learn what it means to be mentored and formed into the image of Jesus under the gentle hand of one who has walked the same path we find ourselves on.
Jesus uses various images for the kingdom, from a mustard seed to a treasure hidden in a field (Matthew 13:31–32, 44). Perhaps discipleship as mentorship is like this too: small, uncertain beginnings lead to a harvest beyond our wildest dreams.
Watch the master disciple
When I think of mentorship as discipleship, my thoughts land squarely on Jesus.
I think of Jesus on the sea, walking on water in the midst of a great storm, about to pass his disciples by in order to spur them on to a realization of his true identity: I Am (Mark 6:50).
I think of Jesus, in a home, dining with and extending grace to Zacchaeus the tax collector, who most would consider to be a thief and a traitor, unworthy of anyone’s time (Luke 19:1–10).
I think of Jesus walking with his disciples along the path, seeing a farmer sowing seed in his field along the way. He uses this as an opportunity to speak of the secret coming of the kingdom, where it is necessary to have ears to hear and eyes to see what God is doing in our world (Luke 8:1–15).
Jesus is the master of mentorship, using whatever he could, wherever he was to teach about this coming kingdom that would change everything forever.
My mentor and me
Just as Jesus discipled in ordinary situations, I too have been discipled in ordinary situations.
My mentor Barb and I spent countless hours at her farm, drinking coffee, taking turns spouting off questions and answers, as we attempted to make sense of this life of cross-carrying and Jesus-following to which we have been called.
Sharing a meal at a restaurant with my friend Mark turned into a mentorship experience, as he cared for a hurting woman across the room from us.
Ordinary, impromptu situations have provided some of my greatest learning opportunities. Someone who has walked with Jesus longer than me took the time to show me a bit of their journey and what they have learned. These are the moments that stay with me, allowing me to catch a glimpse of the tiny seed, the hidden treasure.
Who is watching?
What would happen if we treated all our space and our time as sacred? A trip to the grocery store or a conversation with the neighbour or an encounter with the barista at Starbucks can all turn into a discipleship opportunity, a learning experience.
People are watching, not only our fellow Christians. How will we speak? How will we react? What will we do? My prayer is that, whatever happens, those we meet will see a glimpse of the kingdom, a glimpse of Jesus.
As a younger Christian, I am especially eager to watch and learn from those who have walked with Jesus longer than I have. Yet, I recognize that I must not only be a “receiver” in discipleship. I must give time and energy to those younger than me as well. Children and youth – they are watching as well, longing to catch a glimpse of why we do all of this – church, Sunday school, youth group.
I agree with the often quoted adage: “You can’t be what you can’t see.” So let us allow others to see Jesus through our words, actions and values – on the sea, in a home, along the path – that other Christians may grow and that our hurting world may be introduced to the One on whose hands and side are scars made for them.
—Stephanie Chase is a graduate student at Briercrest Seminary in Caronport, Sask. She calls Regina and Parliament Community Church her home.