I was nineteen years old when I started pestering the Lord about wanting a mentor.
Fresh out of college, having just moved to a new town, I was feeling alone and a bit hesitant in my walk with the Lord. I read Titus 2 and determined that what I needed was an older woman in the faith who would disciple me.
One evening at church, after praying once again for the Lord to provide me a mentor, I looked up and saw a group of teen girls talking at the back of the sanctuary. Almost immediately, I felt the Lord impress on me, be the mentor you dream of having.
Be the mentor you dream of having.
What a novel idea, right? But wow, did it ever transform my life.
While it was true that I longed for an “older woman” in the faith to encourage me, I was already an “older woman” to those girls.
One of the most important assignments Jesus gave to the church was to disciple one another. There are some broad ways of discipling—like, preaching, writing books, speaking to groups, sharing online through blogs or social media—but we also need discipleship in smaller, more personal, forms.
We need people who are going to sit down with us and talk. Ones who will listen to where we are with the Lord, who will inspire us to move forward, and who will tell their own testimonies of God’s presence.
Discipleship doesn’t have to be as formal as a mentoring relationship, but it’s such an awesome way to come along side someone so you can learn and grow together.
Simply put, a healthy mentorship basically involves three things:
- Conversation that edifies and encourages toward Christ.
- Taking time to pray for the person you’re mentoring.
- Healthy sharing about real life. (Not a fake relationship where one or both parties pretend in order to appear different than what they are. For example, if you don’t read your Bible regularly, don’t pretend that you do! Be real about where you are.)
But, if you’re anything like me, the question you come up against is how? How do you become a mentor to someone? What does it mean to disciple someone through a mentoring relationship?
Well, I don’t have all the answers but I can tell you some of the things I’ve learned along the way. A few specifics that can be launching pads to your own journey. Take what you need, leave what you don’t, and feel free to share this list with your friends and church circles.
Steps to Becoming a Mentor
1. Ask the Lord who around you might need some extra encouragement.
If there isn’t anyone you’re specifically interested in mentoring, ask the Lord to bring someone to mind. Then keep your eyes open! I promise there are other people in your church that are longing for someone to come along beside them and feed them encouragement.
2. Be proactive about asking to meet.
Just send the text or stop them after church or give them a call. It doesn’t matter how awkward you feel. I ridiculously loathe starting conversations—and I’ve lived through reaching out to disciple or asking to be discipled more than once. You can do it.
Also, quick tip: If you’re interested in mentoring someone who is under 18, contact their parents first!
3. At your first meeting, ask lots of questions!
Get an idea of where they’re at in life, what areas they need encouragement in, and how they’re feeling about their walk with God. Even if you think you know them fairly well—make sure you’re prepared to listen. Most people have so much going on in their lives that others have no idea about.
Some quick & easy questions:
- Can you tell me about how you met Jesus?
- What’s one thing you’re excited about in life right now?
- What’s one thing you’re really dreading in life right now?
- What’s your favorite thing to do in the evening?
- Do you feel like you’re more of an introvert or an extrovert?
- Have you ever felt like you’ve heard God speaking to you?
- (If yes.) Can you tell me about it?
4. Remember that every mentorship may look different.
Don’t get caught up in trying to create a relationship that looks a certain way. Maybe you’ll meet weekly. Maybe you’ll text. Maybe you’ll recommend books to each other and talk about them. Maybe you’ll have coffee once a month. Maybe you’ll talk at the park while kids play. Maybe you’ll do a formal Bible study.
The options are endless. Ask the Lord to show you something doable for the two of you. Ideals that can’t be reached will just leave you both discouraged. The whole point is to encourage each other forward in the Lord.
I hope this list encourages you to start looking for spaces to disciple and mentor those around you.
And as for my story? I did listen to the Lord and mentored the girls I saw at church that day. After a few years of more formal mentorship, we transitioned to simple friendship and now, 17 years later, many of us are still encouraging and edifying each other in following the Lord.
And that, after all, is the beauty of discipleship. As we pour into each other, we all grow and learn to know the Lord’s presence more, together.
Now, for one last “fun fact” about the girls I mentored: One thing I shared with my girls was a collection of stories that I wrote to help illustrate concepts about following Christ. They were at the age where they loved fairy tales, so I wrote parables set in a fairy tale world and we all read them together and talked about the concepts in the tales. Those stories have now been turned into a beautifully illustrated book.
Daughters of the King is a collection of 5 allegorical fairy-tales that tell the story of a Kingdom and the young women in it who are growing up to become warriors for the One-True-King.
If you start mentoring teen girls, these stories may be fun to read together or to give her as a gift.
Do you have a mentorship story (either mentoring someone or how someone else mentored you) that you want to share? Leave your story in the comments below!
Photography: JenniMarie Photography