Women as Disciple Makers
by Alison Haupt
Throughout the last ten years of doing ministry, I have been challenged to figure out where I fit in God’s mission, as a woman. I have been blessed with an amazing church community (the Underground) that affirms women in leadership at all levels. The Underground has given me the freedom to discern who Jesus has made me to be and how to live that out. The simple, yet profound conclusion is that Jesus has called me to the same thing he has called all followers to — the work of making disciples. Nothing more, but also nothing less.
As I reflect back, I can’t help but see that Jesus has used my life to make disciples, disciples who are both men and women. This journey, however, has been challenging at times, especially when others didn’t believe in my calling to be a disciple maker. As a campus minister with InterVarsity, I remember having conversations with local pastors and getting pulled into theological rabbit holes about what roles women should have in the church. Although these arguments were valid in some sense, there were more so a distraction from the mutual calling we both had to build the kingdom of God in our city. Most churches in my area would not give me a position of leadership or influence, yet Jesus has used me to pastor people and move them closer to him. That, in the end, is what matters and it has kept me devoted. My life, as a woman, belongs to Jesus and I answer to him and him alone.
This call to make disciples has looked very different in my life. I began following Jesus as a single woman, then as a married woman, and now as a mother. My title as a woman has changed in many ways over the years, but my role in the kingdom has remained the same, to make disciples. In each phase of life this has looked different, but the great commission has always been and will always be to join Jesus in making disciples. The season that I am currently in, as a mother, has been the most challenging to discern what it means to be a disciple maker. At times, being in a missional movement and hearing a high call to be involved in God’s mission in the world has left me feeling a little helpless. I have felt as though I can’t live up to this high call in this season of my life. I have struggled to find my place of impact with no formal ministry involvement. It is in those moments that I am reminded of a two things. 1. My kids are a part of the kingdom and I am the primary voice in their life leading them to Jesus. I am called to be fully present with them so I can lead them well. 2. I have something to contribute to those outside of my immediate family. I am reminded of the widow giving her offering in the temple alongside the Pharisees and how Jesus honored her even though she gave so little. Jesus sees us and knows what we have to give. He is honored by whatever sacrifices we can make for him. As women, we all have something to give to the work of making disciples. Our role is to faithfully sacrifice what we have to give for God’s mission in the world.
I feel deeply invested in the work of Jesus around me to make disciples and my family is blessed by this work. I have three little boys that Jesus has entrusted to me. Each day they have moments of sin, failure, celebration and joy that provide opportunities to direct them to Jesus’ grace, love and care. I also share my home with nine other adults, and have the joy of sharing life with them and shepherding them. I have had the honor of walking with couples through pre-marital counseling into their marriages. I have had the gift of welcoming hundreds of university students into my home and helping them become more deeply rooted in their campus communities. I have had the joy of sharing a meal and bible study with my neighbors at my kitchen table. My living room is as much a place for my children to play, as it is a place where intercession, bible study and deep sharing of life happens. My house is the greatest place of ministry for me because it is the place where I am rooted. In my home, I give my life fully to making disciples by inviting people into the place where I am rooted and encouraging them towards the way of Jesus.
While my role in this stage of life is being a mother to my children, it would do them a great disservice to focus solely on them. As their primary example of a disciple of Jesus, I need to model sacrifice for them, but also sacrifice for others. I can invite them into the work of seeing and caring for those around them. My kids are blessed by my calling from Jesus to make disciples. They are blessed because they have the chance to welcome countless people into our home and share their little lives with them. They are blessed because they have relationships with our neighbors who are in need. They can begin to understand at a young age that they are not the only ones with needs. They are beginning to grasp that Jesus is calling us to care for the world.
As I look beyond my own life, I see so many remarkable women around me and around the world. Some of them with ministry titles and some without. Some doing ministry where they are seen, others doing it in cracks and crevices of the cities they live in. One thing transcends all this — they are disciple makers. Regardless of what the watching church says about our role or our place of belonging. Time and time again, Jesus affirmed women during his life, and he is doing the same for us today. Jesus has always and will continue to use women to advance his great commission in the world. Jesus sees and affirms us as women and is inviting us to be a part of calling people to himself. Let us, as women, not sell short the influence and gift that Jesus wants us to bring to the needy and broken world. May we be devoted for all the days of our lives, in every season of life, in every circumstance to be women who are disciple makers.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
- How have you, as a woman, potentially disqualified yourself from being a disciple maker?
- How can you step deeper into the calling from Jesus to make disciples?
- How can you empower women to be disciple makers?