When I approached Esther, the new, twenty-something, beautifully blonde staffer for our campus ministry, I didn’t know exactly what it meant to be “discipled.” But I knew the longing to be known. The longing to grow. To be okay. The longing for someone to guide the way.
We started meeting in my beige-painted cinder block dorm room my sophomore year of college. We’d sit cross-legged on opposite ends of my periwinkle duvet for an hour of weekly “discipleship.” I guess I expected to learn about God’s Word and the how-to’s of walking with Jesus. I thought someone more spiritually mature could keep me accountable in my physical relationship with my boyfriend and my progress with Scripture memory.
But what Esther really taught me was how to care for someone’s heart.
I doubt that was ever her deliberate “lesson of the day.” But it’s what she modeled by caring for mine. The way she asked intentional questions and leaned in to hear the answer. The way she was comfortable in my uncomfortable silence. The way she wasn’t afraid of my messy past or confused present.
Esther was just there to be with me.
To hold the brokenness and fears of a straight A student who may have looked like she had it all together. With her disarming smile, inviting eyes, and commitment to meet consistently, Esther made space for me to explore who I was, where I had been, and where Jesus was leading me.
We had been meeting for several months when she pulled out a little fold-up keyboard and attached it to her Palm. She started typing as we talked and I asked what she was doing.
“I usually take notes about our time together later, but what you’re sharing is really important. I don’t want to forget it.”
I must have had a strange look on my face because Esther quickly added, “I just want to remember how to pray for you and follow up later on what we’ve talked about. Does that make you feel uncomfortable?”
“No. Not uncomfortable,” I said wiping the tears that I couldn’t will to stay welled in my eyes.
“It makes me feel seen. Loved. Invested in . . . Like no one ever has.”
It’s been 13 years and Esther has transitioned from a mentor to a soul sister and life-long friend. But she’s still a difference maker. A life changer. A love and service leader.
Ann Voskamp writes about the Esther Generation. We, the North American Church, who are tired of being satisfied with comfort and are ready to be satiated by God. The Esther Generation who is ready to stop giving minimally to meet the status quo and start giving sacrificially because the gut-wrenching stats are real people. Who wants to use their excess for a purpose. Who is God-ordained inside the gates of status, education, access…for such a time as this.
I’m saying Yes! with Ann. We Jesus believers need to bend low to help our sisters!
But I am also ready for another type of Esther Generation. To be like my Esther and offer more than a passing “How are you?” and religious “I’ll pray for you,” and start giving our time, our ears, our arms sacrificially to invest in each another. I’m ready to influence the many by influencing the one. The one woman on my block, mom in my playgroup, college student at my church.
To be a generation of Esthers and take what I see as my not-enough and still open up my life. To lead by caring for someone’s heart.
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