As you follow the Lord Jesus Christ through his ministry in the gospels, you’ll notice that he often ‘retreated’ to solitary places with his disciples as a way to give them rest and to refresh them. Inasmuch as they were his apostles they were also the sheep of his pasture and he a Shepherd to their souls; and so when he saw their souls’ need for restoration he provided it for them.
“And he said unto them, come ye yourselves into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.” Mark 6:31-32
Often these were times that the Lord was able to go deeper in his teaching to his disciples. The ladies of the College and Young Adults ministry recently had one such time with the Lord; an-all day retreat pursuing the deeper truths on mentors and missionaries and how the Lord uses both to develop our spiritual maturity.
I tend to get caught up in the busyness of life and ministry and go from one thing to the next sometimes unthinkingly and God in his grace uses other believers in the church to tap me on my shoulder with the invite: “come away” with me… I’m currently seeking direction in my life, asking the Lord, what’s the next step and his question back to me since this retreat has been: “how are you doing in following the godly women that are in your life? How are you doing being an example for younger women in your life to follow?”
The message I got from the retreat was simple but powerful; to paraphrase a quote from one of the sessions: “The best leaders are borne out of the best followers.” The underlying thought was – there are no self-made Christians; God has some key people he wants to use in your life to grow you up and he wants you to become the same for someone else. It’s the cycle of life, both physical and spiritual: birth, growth under parental care, maturity, reproduction, parenting and eventually mentoring.
God has some key people he wants to use in your life to grow you up and he wants you to become the same for someone else.
I don’t know if there’s a better example of a godly woman who faithfully followed the spiritual leader God placed in her life than Ruth; and she followed Naomi right into God’s divine purpose for her life. She was a cleaver, I mean she held on tight; she saw God in in Naomi and purposed with remarkable resolve to follow her as she followed the Lord.
Ruth 1:16-17 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee, for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge, thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
Being part of a discipleship church we often hear we need a Paul and we need a Timothy, or in our case, a Naomi and a Ruth; someone to follow (Naomi) and someone to lead (Ruth). The retreat messages encouraged us not only to search for “up-close” mentors in our lives, but also the mentors and missionaries from afar including biblical and historical ones. Being part of the Laodicean church age we’re inundated with the message: “Life is all about you”, and consequently the church is overrun with “me-monster” Christians that, like little children, genuinely believe the world revolves around them. How to overcome this predicament and grow and mature against the tide? Missionaries. Sent ones. Mentors. Examples. Ensamples. Teachers. God uses those that model the life of our Lord Jesus Christ in the fulness of his stature to bring us to maturity.
...we’re inundated with the message: “Life is all about you”, and consequently the church is overrun with “me-monster” Christians...
We had the opportunity to watch the documentary “Beyond the Gates of Splendor”, which followed five missionary families as they took the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Auca Indians in Ecuador. The events that unfolded in their lives left the 5 husbands dead, their wives widowed and their children fatherless. Astoundingly some of their family members later went back to their killers to live among them and continue the work of the gospel. it’s the farthest thing from the Laodicean Christianity we know today where life seems to be all about my creature comforts and having things go my way. These were our examples from afar for the day, and as he so often does the Lord used their story to quiet the murmurings and disputings of my heart.
It’s powerful to see with your own eyes the fruit of discipleship, how God works in the lives of those you know and love to mature them and make them fruitful in his mission. Deb Molder, Lucy Akins and Kathy Baughn were three up-close examples that we had with us of faithful women in the Lord who have followed him into his purpose for their life. Kathy – a missionary to Australia and a church-planter, Lucy – a missionary to Tampa and a church-planter and Deb – a missionary and a mentor to countless women. Each of them had inspiring stories of the people and circumstances God used in their lives, how he led them and shaped them and corrected them and guided them into what they were presently.
It’s powerful to see with your own eyes the fruit of discipleship, how God works in the lives of those you know and love...
I got to study the life of Priscilla during part of the day - I’ve often admired the testimony of her life in the bible and I picked her as a biblical example to see what I could learn from her life. It was interesting to me that her name meant ‘ancient’. That’s the last of the seven stages of spiritual growth in a Christian’s life and indeed she displayed a mature Christian walk. Was this a call to full maturity for me? Highly likely.
To sum up the admonitions I received from the ladies’ retreat in the infamous infomercial style: Feeling stuck? Need direction? Want to move forward in your Christian walk? Do you sense a call to mature fully? Then find godly mentors, follow them faithfully, emulate them, and you will grow; live godly and be a mentor for someone else and you will be fruitful.