4 Ways to Grow as a Disciple When You’re Isolated
With the global pandemic of COVID-19, many of us are watching our daily lives change shape in major ways. People handle themselves differently in this situation, whether anxiously scrolling through news and social media, binging streaming services and snacking on food, or being super productive and skill-building–all of which can be appropriate responses to such an unwarranted time in our history.
There have been several articles, videos, blogs, etc. floating around sharing how to help yourself and help others through this crazy time, whether it’s learning not to worry, supporting local businesses, or building relationships through social media; but there are not many resources I have seen that have talked about practical ways to strengthen faith through this time, both as a follower of Christ and as a serving disciple.
Colossians 3:23 tells us to work as if for the Lord, no matter what we do. So even time at home can be a time to build personal faith, serve others, and glorify God:
#1 – Find ways to serve others.
It takes a little creativity to know how to best serve others in a time when you can’t really be around people. But there are opportunities out there! You can give blood, donate food to a local food pantry, be a grocery runner for high-risk friends and neighbors, leave unused coupons at restaurants or around grocery stores, give gifts to delivery workers, etc.
And a really easy and impactful way to serve others is to pray with them.
You may not be able to be physically close to people, but you can pray with and for healthcare workers, custodians, food and drink workers, grocery store employees, mail carriers, law enforcement officers, and others who are still needing to go about working right now in this tough time. Instead of saying, “I’ll pray for you,” ask, “Can I take a moment to pray for you right now?” And then do it.
James 5:16 reminds us that there is special power in the prayer of a righteous person, so use that gift!
#2 – Learn a skill with spiritual intentionality.
Many people are taking advantage of this time to learn a skill or take up a hobby that they have wanted to do for a while. This is great! But have you thought about how you can use that skill or hobby for the kingdom in this time of need?
Romans 12:3-8 talks about how different skills are used throughout the body of believers, so here are some suggestions of how common skills and hobbies that people are cultivating can be tools for serving others:
- Cook for others. Many are having to get creative with cooking palatable meals with limited resources, and it’s spurred many people to learn how to cook more. For several of our elderly or immunosuppressed neighbors, it is dangerous to go to the grocery store. And with higher demand, services like grocery delivery or pickup are difficult to schedule. So this is an excellent opportunity to serve food to others. When you cook for yourself or your family, make extra and deliver it to the home of someone who may not be able to get out, careful to continue using the guidelines of social distancing.
- Learn a musical instrument in order to learn new worship songs. Maybe you’ve dusted off your keyboard or bought a learner’s guitar off Amazon. As you’re learning how to read music and play your new instrument, try your hand at using it to learn some new worship songs that maybe you didn’t know before.
- Learn the language of a foreigner you know. I am a huge supporter of language learning, and I do think this is a great time to take advantage of apps like Duolingo, Free Rice, Memrise, and others to learn a new language! A friend of mine recently told me that he has learned how to say every object in his room in Spanish, and that is awesome! Think of a “person of peace” who speaks another language, and take time to learn their language so that you can make a deeper connection with them. Trust me, if they know you are learning their language, that will touch their heart.
- Learn to craft much-needed objects. I’ve seen people take up pottery, sewing, woodworking, and other craft-based hobbies during this time. There are lots of things that you can make that are needed in your area now. Whether it’s sewing masks, 3D-printing face shields, creating reusable wipes, or crafting handmade soap, there are many things you could make for those who don’t have.
- Organize your space to include a prayer space. I’ve seen many people use this time to tidy up their homes and gardens, especially now that spring is here. The recent movie War Room got lots of people thinking about having a prayer closet, and several faiths encourage a meditation area in the home. Why not make a space for yourself to spend time with God now?
- Read Scripture and/or devotional books. The book business has been doing well through the pandemic as people are reading more to pass the time. Before you pick up the novel or self-help book that’s been hiding on your bookshelf for years, take some time to read God’s word instead. Devotional books and articles (like this one!) can also be great for gaining new perspective on some old favorites.
#3 – Reinforce personal disciplines.
This is an excellent time to really strengthen your personal time with God. Spend time praying, reading Scripture, worshiping, fasting, and taking care of, as 1 Corinthians 6:19 calls it, your temple (through exercise, taking care of your mental health, feeding yourself well, getting enough rest, etc.). Even if you spend a few minutes a day doing these things, you will notice a shift in your attitude and a confidence from within.
#4 – Spread the Gospel online.
Because many people are home and bored around the world, there are many like the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 who are interested in deepening their understanding of God and the Bible. Just this weekend, I received a phone call from a friend who said an acquaintance from long ago contacted her and said, “I’m bored, and I’m ready. Teach me.”
This time is an excellent opportunity to reach out to others. You can always do a Discovery Bible study online, whether by text or video. And services like the World English Institute are overrun with interested students but in need of willing teachers. (As of right now, there are 256 students who have signed up for the studies and are waiting for a teacher.) If nothing else, just talk about your faith with someone online.
Just because you are limited to technology does not mean you have to stop sharing your faith.
It’s easy to feel useless right now, especially when the best thing to do is to pretty much do nothing. But we are not helpless; we have the most powerful Helper with us all the time, and He is active in this.