How do we measure discipleship? What is the marker of an effective discipleship relationship? I do not necessarily know the answer to these questions, but there have been a couple of instances in my life when I felt the weight of being a mentor.
Once, when I was a youth worker, there was a teen I began to mentor. I would walk and meet her after school a couple of days a week- she wore her school uniform and I wore my life uniform, a dress, leggings, and a pair of Chucks. On this particular spring day, I traveled my normal route, and as she approached I noticed something. Her school uniform was accessorized with leggings and Converse. Somewhere between meeting and mentoring my influence had manifested in her clothing choices. This realization was extremely sobering: this is more than Bible study.
Last night was another sobering moment. I had a sleepover at my apartment with the two eleven-year-old girls I have been spending time with. We stuffed candy into easter eggs, pizza rolls into our mouths and they were grossed out by all the kissing in the Princess Diaries. Ahh, to be eleven. As we giggled, and made up dance moves, and laughed together I heard something so rare and exciting happen that it almost brought me to tears.
So as the girls brushed their teeth, squealed with delight that they had matching toothbrushes, and chatted about Mia Thermopolis, I had the honor of hearing this conversation…
B- “I think it is silly, they are in high school, they are going to go to college and fall in love and marry other people.”
L- “Yeah- kissing boys in high school is kinda dumb.”
B- “Or they might never get married.”
L- “Or you might when you are forty, in India”
B- “I really do want to be a missionary in India.”
L- “My best friend and I want to missionaries in China, kissing when you are in high school is a bad idea.”
This exchange may come across as naive, but these two amazing eleven-year-olds are already focused on their calling, and they do not expect to one day marry- they have grown up in the church and yet they see long term/life long singleness as viable options for a great life. I was stunned and overwhelmed. Because, to be honest, some days I hate my singleness- but tonight I love that something other than my clothing choices might sink in with these two.
I pray that as they grow and struggle with relationships, singleness, their calling and life in general, that I will be there and remind them of the beautiful simplicity they once shared over toothpaste and pillow fights. And maybe that is how I mill measure the success of discipleship- being there to live life together. Because tonight they reminded me that singleness for the sake of missions is honorable and scary, and exciting, and complex, and worth it.
And as a side note- if these two are the future of international missions- WOW! God has empowered two girls who will fight for justice, speak the truth and love people like Jesus loves.