Anyone that knows me well, knows that there is a whole group of teenagers and young adults that I affectionately call “My Kids”. The funny part is most of them are only 3-7 years younger than I! Growing up in a large family of 12 children, I’m 20 years older than my youngest sibling, and at some point in my teens I began calling the younger half of the family “the kids”. I was definitely the “second mom/sister” to them and a good part of the time I felt like they could be my own children. When I started in youth ministry the name transferred over to any teen or young adult I felt close too, lead a small group they were in – basically anyone I invested in.
“My kids” now consist of a group of young adults that the Lord has given me the honor to be apart of their lives for however long that season will last. To some I’m simply a sister, others a mentor, and all a friend. Nothing brings me more joy then to have one of them walk into my office for a chat or come and find a note from them. They bring me the most amount of joy in my life; and yet I never blog about them, probably because they are too close to my heart. A writer’s group I’m apart of had a get together this spring, and several of the ladies encouraged me to start blogging about the discipleship that I do.
It’s strange concept for me because the Lord is currently redefining for me what discipleship looks like. It used to just mean meeting one-on-one with “my girls” and digging into scripture, but it’s turning more into a lifestyle. It’s leaving my door and my heart open. It’s asking them the tough questions and holding them accountable, it’s listening to them with one ear and the Spirit with the other. And as they grow older a lot of relationship counseling.
Today one of “my girls” sat across from me and told me the Lord was calling her to be more intentional in her church about discipleship, to use the things the Lord was teaching her and more. It means we will no longer have the time for weekly meetings. We will still be in touch and I’ll keep checking in with her but tears filled my eyes as I blessed her one last time. My job here was finished, my mission complete: That He is the One I
“proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” Col 1:28-29
I watched her walk out of the room more mature in Christ, with a new calling and a mission of her own. But oh how I’m going to miss her. How can I be so proud of her and so sad for me? Parents tell me all the time this is how they feel. Maybe that is why I call these friends, these fellow labors of Christ “My kids”?
The thing is, I think “my kids” teach me way more than I ever teach them. They are the joy of my life. I cry as they grow and move on and take a piece of my heart with them, but it is aways worth the pain. And somehow the Lord never leaves my heart empty – He always has someone else for me to love waiting in the wings.
Several of “my kids” all started dating each other this fall (spring love came early this year!) and I burst with pride every time I see them making godly decisions and putting the Lord and then the other person above themselves. There is hope for this world! I echo John
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4
The longer I walk with them, the more my heart opens to them: “my kids” become “my friends”. And for that I am incredibly grateful. I used to worry about the lines blurring between youth leader and teen, mentor and student, but in discipleship, the field levels a lot more. We are all heirs together pursing growth in Christ. They teach me and by His grace I can humbly show them my weaknesses and we learn together. Lifestyle discipleship is less about a role we fill, and more about a life we live. Discipleship is living everyday to the glory of God in front of other people and inviting them to join you on the journey.
Discipleship is so much more than teaching, it’s living and doing life together in His name.