By MeLissa Houdmann,
Stonecroft Bible Studies Consulting Coordinator
Lucille’s Little Office
|Take the First Step
Who are you discipling? If you aren’t intentionally discipling someone, ask God to arrange that connection. Then, be bold and ask the person God lays on your heart. Schedule a time to meet for coffee or take a walk around the park. Invite her to do a Stonecroft Bible Study with you!
I started my first real adult job at the age of 21. I was a college senior and, like most college students, I thought I knew everything about … well, everything.
When I showed up for my first day, the boss said, “See that little office over there? That’s where you’ll be learning today.” I ventured my way to the door and knocked lightly. I didn’t see anyone in there, so I opened the door thinking maybe they had given me a private office! As I opened the door, the pungent smell of old books hit me and I instantly knew I would like this place.
I quickly learned there was someone in that little office. Sitting behind the desk was a petite lady dressed in all pink. She had a small bouquet of pansies on her desk, a flower in her hair, and a desk covered with open books.
She asked me to sit down and wait until she finished writing. I obeyed and stared as she plunked on the keys of the oldest computer I had ever seen. It had a dark screen with green letters, resembling the computers we had back in grade school. I tried to guess her age, but I couldn’t really tell. She looked about 100 years old, but do people still work when they are 100?
She caught me staring and chuckled. She introduced herself as “Lucille Sollenberger.” I remembered my manners and said, “Nice to meet you, Lucille.” Little did I know that Lucille was “somebody” in the world of Christian writing. I didn’t know that fact until much later when I saw her quoted in a Max Lucado book.
That first day we were confined to that little musty office. I’m not even sure if she let me have lunch. I learned quickly that the term “working hours” meant nothing to her. What did we talk about that day? I don’t remember, but that day was the start of a 6-year discipling relationship and friendship. Most of those years were spent studying God’s Word, writing about it, and then rewriting what we had just written. It all happened in that little office in the basement.
|Learning (More) About God
One of the hardest things is to move from simply discussing an issue to learning more about God. Here are some helpful discussion starters:
Learning from Each Other
I later found out that Lucille was in her 80s, not 100 as I initially thought. She could care less that I was 60 years younger. She wasn’t concerned that she had been in ministry twice as long as I had been alive or that her computer was the same model I used in grade school. She didn’t care that we experienced very different things during our lifetimes. She only cared that we work together and glorify God by learning from each other.
As I look back on my life so far, Lucille is one of my favorite people. That doesn’t mean that working with her was easy. It wasn’t, it was often very difficult. We would argue our interpretations of certain Bible passages. We would passionately disagree on grammar. (Come to find out, English rules change significantly over 60 years!) But I learned so much from Lucille and I have taken many lessons with me through my life. She took the time to disciple me. I’m grateful for that.
From Discipled to Discipling
Seventeen years have passed since that first day with Lucille. She is now with Jesus and I am thousands of miles from that little office in the basement. The lessons she taught me continue to impact me daily.
Several months ago, two high school girls walked up to me at church. They asked shyly, “Will you disciple us?” I just stood there staring at them. I’m not sure what I said, but probably something like, “Uh … yeah. Maybe. Um, I think I can do that.”
Instantly the doubts crept in …
They’re 22 years younger than me. I don’t even remember what I ate for breakfast, how am I going to remember what high school was like? Surely there is someone younger who can do this. I already disciple one person. I don’t think I have the time to add two more. My mom always says I take on too much.
Then I started spiritualizing my doubts.
Maybe I should pray for someone else to disciple them. Maybe someone with spiritual gifts that would better fit what they need.
“How about I pray about it and I’ll call you?” I said and basically ran away as fast as possible.
Sure enough, God got through to me and it has been a lot of fun to live life with these teens. I dug out my high school journal and read through it. The issues I struggled with are similar to what these sweet girls are going through. God taught me so much during high school and it has been fun to see them learn the same things about Him.
Personally, Completely, Broadly
Making disciples is Jesus’ calling for all of His children. It’s not simply another program in our churches and in our ministry. It’s meant to be our purpose! We are called to help people know Christ personally, follow Him completely, and make Him known broadly. To disciple means to come alongside another and train her to follow Christ.
Discipleship is often complicated by people today, so it is wise to remember how Jesus discipled others. Jesus’ followers walked alongside Him … literally! They lived with Him, watched how He made decisions, saw how He interacted with others; they sat at His feet and learned. They studied everything about Him. I imagine they laid under the stars and asked Him questions. The disciples’ mission was to follow their rabbi so closely that they would start to think and act just like Him. It was intentional.
When we think of modern-day discipleship, we often think of theological training. While this is essential, discipleship is more than that. It is teaching others to devote their lives to Jesus and deny themselves. It means our lives are no longer our own – our lives belong to Jesus.
… [Jesus] said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
– Luke 9:23-25, ESV
Disciples aren’t always made over a textbook. Instead, they are often made over a cup of coffee or in a fishing boat on the lake. Open the Word of God and learn together how to be a disciple.
Let’s recommit to intentionally making disciples who desire to live according to everything Christ taught. May our ministry be filled with disciples who yearn to study God’s Word and live according to His truth.