Just because a woman shows up to discipleship time with you does not necessarily mean she is growing spiritually. She may simply enjoy your company and is glad someone will listen to her vent about things in her life. While we want to be a kind friend, and perhaps counseling is needed, discipleship is meant for spiritual growth. So the question becomes, “What do you do when you are meeting with someone and they don’t seem to be growing spiritually? Do you break up or keep going?”
When you are meeting with a woman who does not seem to be growing spiritually, start by discerning what kind of progress you hope to see in her life.
The two goals when discipling another woman are:
1) They grow in Christlikeness over time (in words, actions, character, etc.).
2) They mature to the point of discipling another person.
Let’s address #1 first. Here is an inventory of tools at our disposal to use when we don't see the desired growth taking place.
1. The Discipler Evaluation. We can self-evaluate our personal discipleship efforts and make changes to increase the quality of our investment in others. "Does Your Discipleship Need a Tune Up? -- Part 1" addresses this.
2. The Discipleship Evaluation. We then evaluate together. Each person answers a few questions about how the discipleship time is going to see where tweaks can be made for the future. Read more about this in "Does Your Discipleship Need a Tune Up? - Part 2."
3. Grace and Truth Over Time. These are key components of discipleship. If one is missing, your efforts will stall out. Extend grace (don’t expect perfection ... be a safe person, care). Speak truth (being truthful about issues, even when uncomfortable, is part of being a discipler). Give enough time for a change. Don’t expect immediate results and look for growth over time.
4. Speak the Truth in Love. Our disciple may not know there is an issue hindering her growth if we don't tell her. See chapter 8 of Discipling Women for two helpful sample scripts.
5. Suggest Growth Ideas. Are we giving them ways to change? Are there suggestions to help them see growth or are we merely pointing out the problems? ("One idea I have for you to help in this area is _______.")
To address issue #2: When a woman is mature and not bearing fruit in the discipleship realm, meaning she is not multiplying her life by investing in another, I would ask why?
1. Does she feel she is not ready? If you feel she is ready, then perhaps she needs you to breathe some confidence in her. Perhaps you both disciple someone together to help her see she can do it.
2. Does she not have time? Help her see that pushing pause on another area (or delegating or saying no) can free up time for this valuable endeavor.
3. Other issues that could be causing a roadblock here are: Lack of desire, lack of Biblical conviction about discipleship, lack of Lordship with time, an unhealthy relationship, not feeling she would be a good example in some area, or a lack of an intimate walk with God.
There are women who don't want to multiply their lives, but love being given attention and poured into (being discipled). I tend to navigate them into a situation where they are in a small group Bible study but not getting the lion's share of my time or investment. I pray that they will come to a Biblical conviction about discipleship and multiplying their lives into others. As I pray and wait, I dive deeper with other women who are hungry to take steps of faith, share the gospel and get in the discipleship boat with others.
Whether speaking, training, or discipling, Lori brings a passion to see women raised up to be all they can be in the Lord, teaching to women of all ages on a wide variety of topics. She currently makes her home in Katy, TX, with her husband Alan and two young children Josh and Jake.