Discipleship is a responsibility of every believer, yet many of us avoid doing it because we don’t know where to start. The Gentle Art of Discipling Women provides a framework for discipleship from the mentoring voice of a seasoned discipler. Dana Yeakley walks with you through the foundational principles of who you are in Christ and how you are uniquely equipped to pass along what He has taught you.The book is divided into two parts:
- Be a Disciple: Four foundational truths (We Are Becoming; We Are Forgiven; We Have Access; We Are Safe) strengthen our confidence so that we can pass along our faith.
- Make a Disciple: Four questions (How Do We Create the Right Atmosphere? Who Do We Help? What Do We Share? How Does Discipling One-on-One Actually Work?) help us nurture a discipleship relationship.
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Read an Excerpt
The Gentle Art of Discipling Women
Nurturing Authentic Faith in Ourselves and Others
By Dana Yeakley
NavPressCopyright © 2015 Dana Yeakley
All rights reserved.
We Are Forgiven
Christ [the Messiah Himself] died for sins once for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous (the Just for the unjust, the Innocent for the guilty), that He might bring us to God. * PETER 3:18, AMP
Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The other guests began to talk about this among themselves. They said, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" * LUKE 7:48-49
Forgive us our sins, as we also forgive everyone who sins against us. * LUKE 11:4
HAVE YOU EVER DEALT with an addiction? I'm not just talking about the big ones we automatically think of — drugs or alcohol or food, for example — but something, anything, that had such a grip on your life that it colored everything else you did.
I did. In my late twenties and early thirties, I was completely and unabashedly codependent. Unknowingly, I began to rely upon my group of girlfriends to give me my sense of identity. I needed to hear their compliments. I looked forward to and leaned upon their laughter and approval of my ideas, choices, and opinions. Whenever I left an outing or coffee time with them, I felt satisfied. Life was good! It was a satisfying unseen addiction.
And during this time in my life, I was avidly discipling women.
You know, what this book is about.
In the midst of my busy schedule — leading group studies, meeting with women one-on-one, prepping to move overseas as a missionary, raising three children under six years of age, and just really enjoying life — God gently ran interference on my heart. His goal? To intervene in my addiction.
My awareness of this addiction began to bubble up in me when I realized I was finding an unhealthy sense of satisfaction in the fact that a certain really "cool" woman had asked me to disciple her. Meeting with her fed my sense of personal worth. Our discipling relationship was a badge I pompously wore for others to see. As I began to realize the pleasure I was drawing from this "discipling relationship," I was dismayed.
God showed me that this particular situation was but the pinnacle of a great iceberg of codependency. Relying on my cozy group of friends or someone I was discipling for my sense of importance, value, or identity was clearly sin. Not only was this codependency crowding out Jesus as my "first love," but it was becoming an idol that I depended on to give me "life." The full weight of this tendency tormented me deep within my spirit. My heart crumpled as I confessed to Jesus that my identity needs were being met through the very thing He had asked me to do: disciple women.
And, as He always does, He offered me forgiveness with open arms (see 1 John 1:9).
Forgiveness is sometimes difficult for us to understand. Sure, we all know at some level or another that when we come to Christ we are forgiven for all our sin — past, present, and future. But as we live life, we still sin.
And this is the beauty of the gospel: when we first believe in Christ we repent and He makes all things new. But just as exciting is this: that as we continue to sin, Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us our sin! Over and over and over. Choosing to sin, even though we know Christ, and humbly seeking forgiveness are intrinsic aspects of our lifelong trek with Him. So we must continue to walk with Him and let Him transform us completely, continually confessing our sin and receiving His forgiveness. And because He continues to forgive us, we are humbled and glad to forgive others.
As I have developed in my understanding of forgiveness, I have experienced a spiritually tangible God-presence accompanied by His peace. And my love for Him deepens the more I recognize the value and truth of His forgiveness for my sin. Let's explore together this powerful first foundational reality that we are women whom Jesus loves and has forgiven.
AMONG THE FOR GIVEN
The Bible is full of stories of people who experienced the power of forgiveness firsthand, but I particularly love the story of the prostitute in Luke 7. As we engage with her life, let's stand beside her, befriend her, and seek to understand her deepest emotions and actions.
As a prostitute, she was socially and culturally condemned for her transgressions. No one could fathom what might have led her into her life of sin. No one in her world cared to understand the shame that she carried with her through a pit of immoral disgrace.
She had sinned. She knew it. And yet she innocently but determinedly moved toward Jesus. She even risked stepping into Simon the Pharisee's judgmental gaze. Without one word she approached, worshiped, and engaged with Jesus. She sought Christ, trusting His forgiveness.
The men in Luke 7 who attended the dinner and observed our forgiven friend found it difficult to wrap their minds around the forgiveness Jesus offered her. Perhaps it was because they knew about her sins, conspicuous and reprehensible. Perhaps she made them feel uncomfortable and a bit nervous as they watched from their pious seats.
Some of my friends have experienced sexual brokenness in one way or another over the course of their lives. It is agonizing to hear of the hurt and shame others inflicted upon them and the resulting poor choices they made as they tried to deal with the pain. Perhaps they have asked, "Could a body broken and blood spilled two thousand years ago restore my own damaged life?"
One such young woman, Janie, grew up making harmful choices because of the sexual wrongdoing committed against her as a child. Hear her heart as she vividly describes the morning when she acknowledged Christ's forgiveness:
One morning, my friend picked me up for church. I was reluctant to go with her, knowing where I'd been the night before, getting my fill of pleasure and numbing my pain. Nonetheless, I went and listened to what the pastor said. By the end of the service, I was sobbing like someone who had just lost a loved one.
What is wrong with me? Why am I unraveling? Before I could think another thought, my feet started moving. Something compelled me to walk up to the front of that church. I knelt down with that man and admitted my desperate need to be rescued from my sin-ravaged life. I wish I could describe what happened to my soul at that moment without sounding overly dramatic, but something deeply touched me and changed me on the inside.
For the first time in my life I felt worthy to be loved. I knew I didn't deserve it and I couldn't have earned it, nor could I have made it happen through any effort of my own. The heavy burden I was carrying was being carried by someone else.
Someone who took the very stabs to His own soul that I should have received. Someone who bled physical drops of blood to pay the price I owed.
Unfathomable. An indescribable, mysterious transformation was taking place inside of me.
Janie is a modern-day Luke 7 woman! As she moved from her sin-ravaged existence into the loving arms of Jesus, she experienced a kind of spiritual culture shock. Like the woman of Luke 7, my friend came to the awareness that Christ loved her — and because of His love she felt worthy to be loved. Realizing that we matter to Jesus leads us to grasp what C. S. Lewis points out: "He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less." We are uniquely loved and will be uniquely cared for!
Janie and the woman of Luke 7 remind us that our ultimate source of forgiveness is Jesus Christ. Let's look back at Him as He connects with our miscreant girlfriend in Luke 7. Bravely she encountered the living Jesus and worshiped Him, using perfume that she would have formerly used to allure prospective clients. She physically interacted with Jesus as she worshiped Him without a word. Her actions, though passionate, were not seductive. She was forgiven and free.
Like this forgiven friend in Luke 7, when we fully embrace the forgiveness of Christ, we receive the agape love of God. His agape love is deep and constant, extended personally toward those who are entirely unworthy. God's love, when truly embraced, produces and fosters a reverential love toward Him and a practical love toward others. And, ultimately, this love fosters a desire to help others to seek Him. It is this agape love for us that moved God to send His Son, Jesus.
The woman of Luke 7 is every woman. In fact, she is every person! She is you and she is me. She understood that she was forgiven for all of her immoral ways. She saw Jesus for who he was, the Redeeming God. And He received the prostitute's worship and thanksgiving, endorsing the truth of her forgiveness and promising her peace. Because she knew forgiveness for her abundant sin, she wanted to respond to Christ by showing how much she loved Him for forgiving her. She was done with her past way of living.
Of course, Jesus used this woman's life to teach Simon the Pharisee and all who gathered at his table. Where the woman had seen Jesus for who He truly was, Simon the Pharisee saw Jesus as a pathetic slave. He did not welcome Him as an honored guest even though it was required by culture. But what a momentous dinner for those men! Would Simon begin to see Jesus accurately? Would he be able to see Jesus as the forgiving agent that He is? And would Simon ever come to a place in his life where he could offer grace and forgiveness to others?
* * *
To help us really wrestle with this concept of forgiveness, let's take a closer look at Luke 7. Read verses 36-50 in your favorite translation, then answer the questions in your journal.
1. Who was present at this dinner?
2. Why do you think Jesus came to eat dinner with Simon the Pharisee and his friends?
3. The woman brought a flask of perfumed ointment. How did this reflect her purpose in coming to see Jesus?
4. Do you ever plan how you might serve or worship Jesus in a special way that reflects your heart of gratitude?
5. What was her demeanor? Why do you think she acted this way?
6.List all the nonverbal interactions she had with Jesus. How did her actions reflect her past?
7. Through her actions the woman brought honor to Jesus. What insight into the woman's heart does this give you?
8. How did Simon the Pharisee view this woman? What conclusion did Simon make about Jesus because of his view of the woman?
9. What was Jesus replying to in these verses? How did He reply?
10. What lesson was Jesus teaching through this parable? How did Simon respond?
11. Jesus spoke to Simon's intellect, not to his emotions. Why do you think He did this?
12. Hospitality was highly valued in this culture. Hosts were to bow down to their guests as they greeted them, kiss them on the cheek, wash their feet, offer them tea, and make them feel incredibly welcome and appreciated. Simon the Pharisee ignored this respectful behavior toward Jesus. What conclusions do you draw about Simon because of this?
13. What is the lesson Jesus is teaching all of us through this woman's life?
14. Why do you think this woman loved much? Do you identify with her deep sense of love for Christ?
15. What was this woman's love rooted in?
16. Read John 14:21. What do you see in this verse about loving Jesus?
17. Jesus had already said that her sins were forgiven. Why do you think He repeated this truth to her?
18. What was it that the guests at the table began to question about forgiveness?
19. Why do you think Jesus wanted these men to know that He forgives sins?
20. What saved this woman?
21. Why do you think Jesus told her to "go in peace"? Do you think peace is a benefit of experiencing forgiveness? Why or why not?
THE REALITY OF FORGIVENESS
We are forgiven! Easy to breeze past this foundational reality, isn't it? But without a transformative realization of what Jesus has truly done for us, we may feel hindered as we step forward in making disciples. We can't be effective disciple-makers if we choose to live under a dark undefined label that says we are unforgiven when in truth Jesus calls us forgiven and free! This is an opportune time for you to settle from the heart those things that weigh you down or hold you back from a spiritual fresh start.
As we pursue this essential and foundational reality of forgiveness, we must also contemplate our willingness to forgive others (see Luke 11:4). Because of what Christ has done for us we can compassionately move toward those who have hurt us deeply, slandered us, lied about us, talked behind our backs, wounded us deeply through physically abusive acts, or passed over us for compensation or honor. C. S. Lewis reminds us, "To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you."
Forgiving those who have deeply hurt us definitely takes work. We cannot simply flippantly say, "It's okay." My friend Terri, who had forgiven the uncle who abused her at age six, told me that "twenty years later, after I had forgiven my uncle the first time, God brought this topic up again. This time, God spoke to me about forgiving not only my uncle's actions but also the effects those actions had on my life." Her life was smeared with the ripple effects of his selfish actions, and she needed to forgive him for those ripples to find healing and freedom.
It can be painful to forgive, but we must ask ourselves, Do I want to forgive as I have been forgiven? On one occasion many years ago, I was unable to attend a meeting of a woman's leadership council of which I was a member. Many in the group took advantage of my absence to slander me. The woman I sent to the meeting in my stead later informed me of the verbal butchery that had taken place. I was stunned. It was as if someone had plunged a dagger into my gut.
After a few weeks, when the dust had settled in my emotional framework, I went to the council director and asked her about what my friend had reported. I made a point of sharing how it made me feel. She agreed that she was wrong to allow this attack to occur, taking responsibility and asking for my forgiveness. I forgave her, but I still felt the sting of the hurt.
After this conversation, I realized how emotionally arduous it was to forgive. Even though I genuinely meant what I said when I forgave her, I still felt shamed, sliced and diced emotionally. Forgiving the collective group took me some time as I had to process the sin against me. Finally, God did bring me to a sincere place of forgiving these women. Forgiveness, in effect, means that we hurt twice — once during the actual offense, and again whenever the hurt arises during the forgiveness process. Like Terri, I learned that to experience true freedom I must forgive not only the actions of those who hurt me but the effects of their actions.
It took me some time, my friend. But who am I, really? I am a forgiven sinner like them. I make mistakes. Jesus taught me to forgive others as I have been forgiven, but I am still growing in this! How about you? How are you doing with forgiving others? If we want to truly experience His forgiveness and step into a redemptive lifestyle, we must forgive.
BEFORE WE GO ON
In this chapter we have looked at three sides of forgiveness:
1. Sin separates all humans from God. We all need forgiveness. And we are forgiven for all of our sin through Christ's death on the cross.
2. Even though we are forgiven, we continue to live life and we continue to sin. Christ calls us to approach Him with our sin on a daily basis, sincerely confessing our sin and receiving His cleansing forgiveness.
3. We can expect that others will sin against us. And as women who know forgiveness for our personal sin, we have the opportunity and need to forgive others who have sinned against us!
Out of these truths, pray over and journal about these three questions:
1. Do you know for sure and are you truly able to celebrate the forgiveness for all your sin that Jesus covered by His death on the cross? Are you assured that you have eternal life? (See 1 John 5:11-13.)
2. Are you living out a redemptive lifestyle, daily confessing your sin and receiving the cleansing forgiveness of Christ? (See 1 John 1:9.)
3. Is there someone who has wounded you or sinned against you whom you need to forgive? (See Luke 11:4.)
Take some time with the Lord and pray over each of these aspects of forgiveness, asking Him to show you what He wants to concentrate on with you. Begin journaling as Jesus uncovers where in these three aspects of forgiveness you might move forward.
Finally, like our courageous girlfriend in Luke 7, let us triumphantly be sent on our way as we live forward in His magnificent provision of forgiveness, hearing Jesus gently say to each of us, "Go in peace" (Luke 7:50).
Excerpted from The Gentle Art of Discipling Women by Dana Yeakley. Copyright © 2015 Dana Yeakley. Excerpted by permission of NavPress.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part 1 Be His Disciple 1
Chapter 1 We are Forgiven 5
Chapter 2 We are Safe 19
Chapter 3 We have Access 33
Chapter 4 'We are Becoming 49
Part 2 Make a Disciple 69
Chapter 5 How Do-We Create a life-giving Atmosphere? 77
Chapter 6 Whom Do We Help? 101
Chapter 7 What Do We Share? 119
Chapter 8 How Does Discipling One-on-One Actually Work? 149
Leader's Guide 173
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Getting older seems to level the relational playing field — at least that’s what I’m finding. The past ten years have been enriched by relationships with women of all ages who have come to my Sunday school class or have attended our women’s group. I’m always surprised to find common ground with younger women with whom, if it had been possible for us to have met when I was their peer, both of us in our mid-twenties, I would have been too intimidated to speak to them — beautiful, confident, married when I was blah, awkward, and single. The silence would have been deafening, but now, in my fifties, I’m finding that there is plenty to talk about with women of all ages — especially if we’re actively nurturing an authentic faith. In The Gentle Art of Discipling Women, Dana Yeakley draws upon her years of missionary and leadership experience with the Navigators to lend structure and focus to women’s innate tendency to form meaningful relationships. Her focus is two-fold: Part One lays a foundation of being. Only one who authentically follows Jesus Christ herself can lead others into a closer following. Dana lays this groundwork upon four realities of the Christian life: •We are forgiven – and we are “spiritually destitute” apart from God. •We are safe – God is trustworthy. •We have access – Cultivating intimacy with Christ is imperative. •We are becoming – God has begun a work which He intends to complete. Readers are invited to Go Deeper by wrestling with these concepts as they occur in Scripture through a series of well-framed and insightful study questions. Part Two addresses the why and the how of making disciples for Jesus Christ, and Dana assumes nothing. With helpful detail, she examines the process of curating a life-giving atmosphere that includes the security of confidentiality, that fosters relationship, that affirms the value of individuals, and that provides structure for communicating Biblical truth with intentionality. A discipling relationship will include the tough love of exhortation combined with unconditional acceptance; therefore, it is imperative that care be given to the question of whom to disciple. Compatibility as well as eligibility are both concerns — not everyone is at a place in life where she is ready for a one-on-one discipling relationship. Look for a heart for God, faithfulness, and teachability. The focus of the process is growth through deep interaction around the Word of God. The first four chapters of Dana’s book are a great option for foundational content and could be covered in four to eight weeks. Other alternatives are the Gospel of John or Paul’s epistles to the Philippians or Colossians. The work that Dana describes is deeply spiritual, and her standards are high. Even so, she communicates realism, urging simplicity and reminding her readers that there are practical details that will facilitate a smooth beginning. For instance, expectations on both sides should be voiced and scheduling details ironed out; however, even after laying this foundation, there still may be discipling relationships that simply will not work out. Having read the book and received its encouragement, my response is: I can do this! Dana’s gentle teaching at the outset, alongside her wisdom-and-experience-based guidelines make The Gentle Art of Discipling Women a valuable primer for the woman who is ready to take the challenge and trust for grace to enter into joyful obedience to Christ’s command: “