Guard Down for God – Vulnerability in Discipleship

How choosing vulnerability in discipleship transformed one student’s life

Life-to-Life® connection is powerful. Personal. Invitational. Life-altering. That’s what Sarah found when she experienced discipleship at the University of Kentucky. When she experienced a spiritual friendship with Jenni.

Navigator Jenni Holder has been meeting with Sarah in different capacities for four years, twice a month this last year, watching her grow and move into a ministry of her own as God has moved in her life.

Guard Down for God University of Kentucky Navigators Collegiate Ministry

“Sarah has one of the most beautiful hearts I have ever encountered,” Jenni says. “She loves deeply—because she knows Jesus loves her. But, at times that same heart has been buried deep under other things, hiding from herself, protected from others, and struggling to emerge fully aware of and loving herself as Jesus does.”

During the second half of Sarah’s freshman year, Jenni had the chance to get to know Sarah in a small group Bible study she was leading.

“Through this time, she opened herself up to the other women, sharing deep wounds, requests, thoughts, and questions,” Jenni says. “God answered my prayers for Sarah to begin the journey to wholistic freedom.”

Two other Navigator staff women at the University of Kentucky discipled Sarah during her sophomore and junior year.

Sarah says her relationship with Jenni has been a safe and stable place to process important life decisions and learn new things about God and herself.

“God used Jenni to really explode my idea of who He is,” Sarah says. “Because of Jenni’s challenges to lean into the character of God as revealed in Scripture, I have a much deeper understanding of and love for how complex and beautiful our God is. It has laid a solid foundation out of which to serve and grow alongside others in my life.”

For Sarah, the mutual vulnerability in this trusting relationship has been life-changing.

“No one wants to be vulnerable with someone who isn’t vulnerable with them,” Sarah says. “I think the willingness of the discipleship mentor to be vulnerable has been absolutely key.”

Jenni says that in discipling, she has learned to focus on the things that matter most.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by all the new methods and research about the newest class of incoming freshmen and ideas on how best to reach them,” Jenni says. “All I can manage to keep up with happens to be all God is asking of me anyway—to be present. If I am present with my God and present with the one I’m discipling, I am posturing myself as best I can to be responsive to God’s plans and purposes.”

During her junior year, Jenni says Sarah stepped into leadership opportunities with the University of Kentucky Navigator ministry with gusto and conviction.

“I watched and prayed as she wrestled with the many situations that came her way—confusing, frustrating, difficult things,” Jenni says. “Sarah was regularly meeting with others and freely pouring herself into them. I watched her give and forgive, despite the potential risk to her own heart.”

“In Sarah’s final year as a student, I have had the supreme blessing of being able to meet with her, to open God’s Word with her, to encourage her as she pours God’s love into the lives of international students, those in alternative communities, and the individuals He places next to her in orchestra, class, or her apartment.”

As Sarah journeys on this fall with EDGE Corps, a two-year internship with The Navigators Collegiate ministry on campus at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, she knows God is faithful. He will draw students like He drew her. He will transform them from the inside out; one open-hearted generation at a time.

Please pray for Sarah as she joins EDGE Corps, and for Jenni and her husband Trevor’s ministry in Lexington, Kentucky as Collegiate regional directors for the Great Lakes Region.


  1. There is great joy in leading others to Christ and then continue to disciple them to be able to step boldly into the world as a believer. This does come with some risk and even those who seem so certain of their faith through God for many, many years may be caused to stumble.The more you live for Christ or act “in the name Jesus” you become a BIGGER target for Satan. SATAN WILL FIND YOUR WEAK SPOT regardless of age or how long you have declared Jesus as your Saviour. JUST KNOW HE WILL DO WHATEVER HE CAN TO TAKE YOU DOWN. This is the time to be vulnerable with another or many Christians. Talk and pray when you sense the first tinge of uncertainty. Be vulnerable not proud. Pray and Praise beyond ever before. Start the battle as soon as a spark may be seen. We NEVER have to WALK or BATTLE alone. And God’s army can and will pray for you from any place around the world.

    Please pray for Sarah as she steps out as God leads.

    Please pray for Jenny and especially for Trevor. Satan has them in battle and they need your prayers and then praise. Growth is painful and confusing when it is delivered through Satan. God’s love and goodness will prevail through the fight. His Safety And Freedom Are Glorious.

    I do not believe in coincidences and was amazed to see this as your lead story.

Leave a Reply

By commenting, you agree to our Code of Conduct.