Princesses, Missions and Discipleship

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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.”

B- “Yeah.”

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.

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To the Men Who Fight For Her

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My niece is eight; she is passionate, hates injustice, loves Jesus and is becoming quite the theologian. She is surrounded by people who encourage her to obey the Lord – there are strong women who are seeking truth and men who will fight for her right to follow Jesus as an equal heir and priestess.

I want to thank those men.

To the Brothers whose subtle subversion secures her a place at the table. Who assist in rewriting bylaws so that women can serve in leadership. The brothers who pass around sermons by Christine Cain and borrow John Stott books. Your subversion is seen; it is watched.

To the Dads who tell their daughters they can be anything, including pastors. Whose dinner conversation includes the Protoevangelium and Marc Jacobs. She sees when you wash the dishes and when you watch the game. Your respect for your wife is seen and internalized – that is why she sees injustice in relationships. Your mutual submission is seen; it is watched.

To the Single Guys at church, she sees how you conduct yourself with women. She observes your behavior when women speak to you and how you respond to rebuke, encouragement and correction. She listens as you defer to women in the church because their opinion is just as valuable as yours. Your intentionality is seen; it is watched.

To the Pastor who preaches about the men and women of the Bible in equal measure, she hears it. From the pulpit you proclaim equality and your leadership team models that truth. She finds hope in these little things that add up to equality. Your inclusion is seen; it is watched.

So thank you to each of you who quietly, boldly, and humbly speak the truth of equality in your relationships, homes, lives and churches. She is watching, learning and growing. You have the power to shape her future in the church, so keep up the work of biblical equality. She is worth it and the Church needs her.

Doors

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Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock.” My friend Peter once said, “Stop knocking and bust through the damn door, get in here already.” Sometimes I reflect on Peter’s words and desire for the Lord to break down the damn doors I have built and often fortified with lies.

Even when I want to walk in the truth of scripture, the truth of Christ working in me, the truth of redemption, those damn lies creep in. They begin to choke out the truth and the door becomes harder to open.

Lately I have been trying to open the door, the door I constructed, the door Christ lovingly waits at, knocking and coaxing me to come. He will never bust the door down – He is not that type of Father – but once the door is open, He will destroy the door. When I was in high school, I loved the drama of slamming my door when I wanted to make a point. I had been warned by my dad, “If you do that one more time, I am getting rid of your door.” I thought he was bluffing; I slammed my door to test him, to put a barrier between us and prove my point. When I got home from school the next day, there was a curtain where my door had once been.

A good Father does not mess around – he destroys the barriers between us, He disciplines in love, and He keeps His word. As Christ stands at the door and knocks, I have to open the door I slammed shut, and he can do whatever He wants with that door. But just like my earthly father, I hope He takes it off its hinges and destroys the behavior that allowed it close in the first place.

Lord, please break down the damn door, dismantle the lies that have fortified it, take it off the hinges of my heart and destroy it. You are a good Father, and I want to know Your love. Amen.