Leigh Robertson, Campus Crusade for Christ staff at The University of Tennessee
“Discipleship has been a life-giving hour this past fall. Ironic how even in full time ministry, one can lose focus on Jesus. Discipleship has been a place where I have been shown the love of the gospel and the truth of the gospel. Each time I’ve been pointed back to my Savior and His strength has been shown to give me the endurance to keep seeking Him and loving others, despite any difficulty. The view of myself is always reshifted back to the Father as I allow the word to pierce the dark, sad and lonely places of my heart. What a beautiful gift that we do not run this race alone. I am so grateful that Jesus has placed Jen in my life to steer me back towards Him.”
“Discipleship to me has meant someone inviting me into their life, to do life along side them. The day I first met Jen sticks out to me. I was sharing all about my life and where I’ve been and watching tears stream down her face as they streamed down mine. I don’t know if I could’ve felt more safe in that moment than to see her feel all that with me, barely even knowing me. She took on a mess and became part of my story that day and as life comes and I share it with her, she hears me, and she points me to the gospel. I am challenged to live the life God has created for me to live. I am reminded of the verse where Paul says, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ..” and I believe that is kind of what discipleship is like. Not perfect, but striving after Christ and leading another by example. Discipleship is such a great gift to me because someone stepped in to my life, helped bear the mess of my life with me not just once a week, but everyday if i needed it and constantly points me to the gospel. Sometimes she just happened to be there when no one else was, giving me a hug, letting me cry ugly tears and praying with me when their were no words. In spite of all I’ve said, words just don’t seem fitting for what discipleship really is.”
This year, Jen has met with me once a week to share with me her wisdom, her life experiences and most importantly: the gospel. When we first started meeting together, Jen told me we were going to begin going through the gospel together. Although I had been walking with the Lord for over 3 years, I don’t think I quite understood what she meant. This is because most people do not actually preach the gospel to themselves, or others, daily. The average “Christian” does not actually understand that the strength to walk with the Lord daily is reliant solely upon the grace only offered to us through Jesus Christ dying on the cross.
The gospel has been the focus and center of every meeting I have ever had with Jen. And I believe this is what has made our time together true discipleship. We talk about life, daily struggles, fears, boys…and the list goes on and on. She listens, and cares and even cries with me sometimes. But regardless of whatever we are talking about, Jen always points me back to the gospel. She always reminds me that my strength and righteousness is in Jesus Christ, not myself.
Something that I have respected most about Jen is that although I pour my heart out to her, she does not try to give me an answer to put a quick fix on my problems. I will admit that often this might be what I want, but instead Jen listens, points me to scripture, reminds me of truth and encourages me to go to the Lord, exactly as I am. She shows me through being open and raw with me about her own struggles, that every single one of us are messy and in need of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
I believe God has true reason for bringing Jen into my life in the season that He did. This has been one of the hardest seasons I have faced thus far, and I know there is no coincidence that He has placed such a faithful woman who seeks to follow Him into my life to guide me to truth. I truly thank God for loving me enough to place women like Jen in my life to tangibly show His love, faithfulness and mercy to me.
Discipleship is not one “put together” person telling another person how to get their life in line. Discipleship requires both believers to be open and real about their own lives. My discipleship time with Jen is always full of biblical truth and authenticity about how it applies to our daily lives. I am so grateful for Jen and her taking the time and energy to pour into me, as well as so many other girls! She is a shining example of persevering until the end, in the confidence and strength of the Lord.
- THINGS I AM GRATEFUL ABOUT IN MY DISCIPLE-MAKING RELATIONSHIP
- Relationship centered around scripture
- Being pushed to look deep within
- The hope of the Gospel penetrating every area of my life
- She does not give up on me
- Not letting me settle for mediocre faith and relationship with Christ
- Seeing what I cannot see because of my sin and myself and telling me
- Not a waste of my time/productive each week
- Intentional conversations
- Availability beyond weekly meetings
- Treated with respect and not looked down upon
- Christ will always be the center and focus and direction in which I am pointed
- A relationship that continues to grow and be strengthened
- She is willing to share from her own experiences
- Willing to get hands dirty in ministering to me
- Wrestles alongside of me
- Prays for me during the week and over me as we meet
- Moments of genuine laughter, tears and real emotion
- Laura Jones
Having Jen in my life, as a Christian woman, mentor and friend has been an amazing blessing. As I have been growing in my relationship with Christ, he has placed certain people in my path to encourage me, challenge me, and teach me. Jen has been one of them.
In this past year, Jen and I have dug deep into Genesis. She has taught me about cross-referencing in the Bible. She has prayed with and for me. However, what I really want to highlight about my time meeting with Jen is that she is an older woman that I have seen walking with the Lord who has been placed in my life that has challenged me to live out my life in accordance with God’s word, scripture.
Throughout my time with Jen, I have seen what it truly is to love and care for someone, even when you have to do or say something difficult in order to point them to Christ. She has listened to me, cried with me, and rejoiced with me as I have been growing more intimate in my relationship with Christ. She has also been a living example and role model of what it looks like to be Christ’s follower. She has experienced many trials recently, but I have witnessed her cling to Christ through it (that’s when it really counts–when it is tough). What a lesson one’s life can be and what light glorifying Christ! I really respect and love Jen for having the desire to invest her time and heart into reminding young women of the grace and love of our Savior and teaching us how to let it guide every aspect of our lives. I am grateful to be one of these young women.
Recent graduate, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
I started meeting with Jen my senior year in college just a few months after I became a believer. After a year and a half, here are some main concepts that I have learned from my time with Jen:
- Preach the gospel to yourself daily. We constantly have to be reminded what this life is for: God, not us. (from Jerry Bridges book The Discipline of Grace)
- We have the responsibility of sharing everything the Lord has taught us with younger women and doing our best to point them to Him. Jen has shown me how important this is, and a desire has grown in me to do for other young women what she has done for me.
- Focusing my day around spending time with the Father is key. This does not (neccessarily) mean a rigid schedule of reading my Bible for a certain amount of time. It could mean going on a run to pray and reflect on what He has been teaching me.
- Check heart condition and motives: if my heart is not focused only on the Lord, then pray for Him to change it.
- The power of prayer. I realize how cliche this sounds, but when reading about Jesus, I am blown away by his prayer life. If He needed to be constantly in prayer, how much more do we need to?
I cannot imagine where my life would be if I had not had Jen’s guidance and wisdom the past year and a half. I have just recently gotten married and moved to the coast of Mississippi, so I will not be able to keep meeting with her every week. However, the friendship we now share will last a lifetime. Everything I have learned from her will help me to disciple younger women in the future. She has a gift, and her obedience to the Lord in using that gift makes it even more beautiful. Thank you for everything, Jen. Love you!
Tiffany Wade Leuck
I am so thankful God has placed someone in my life to disciple me. Jennifer Pinkner has been a voice of challenge and great encouragement for me. When we meet, she constantly reminds me of the truths of the gospel. She points me to Christ in every good and every bad situation that occurs. God has used her to teach me the importance of reading his Word daily as well as how to study it. My knowledge of who God is has increased greatly, and I have been reminded of the fact that God sees me as spotless and without blemish because of the cross. I now have a deeper understanding of my sin, which in turn, helps me to better grasp the magnitude of the cross. All of the things I have learned and all of the ways I have grown through being discipled increase my desire and ability to disciple others. Finally, I believe that God has put this relationship in my life for the sole purpose of deepening my relationship with him for his own glory.
I have grown this year in countless ways. I can’t help but think that the mentoring I have had has played a large part in that growth. I realize that God is the only one who can grow us, but it’s our job to pursue that growth.
I have this obsession with the truth and figuring things out. One great thing about my mentor is she helps me unpack large truths and make them applicable to my life. We often talk about ways of living out truths that we are learning. This is one of the things that we’ve talked about focusing on next year. She is someone I can talk to who knows more about scripture and life than me. So, that’s also extremely beneficial. It’s helpful, especially in our postmodern society (where truth is relative), to have someone to go to that is rooted deep in scripture who can point me to absolute truth. She doesn’t tell me what I want to hear. She tells me what she knows to be true (from scripture and points to scripture). I believe it saves me a lot of pain down the road, and it is extremely important for my spiritual growth.
Now, I am meeting with two girls on my own. I feel like it’s very helpful to be able to give them one-on-one time and to give them my undivided attention. That is what they need. Yes, a small group Bible study is great, but there is something incredibly valuable about a mentor relationship. The girls that I meet with are comfortable to share and to be honest in saying what they think. It’s a great place for honesty and depth to be cultivated. Girls are not pressured to just give the church “answer.”