Does the word “mentoring” sting your soul, reminding you once again that you’ve never felt more alone? Have you longed for someone to speak into your life and invest time into you personally? Maybe you’re an older woman, sincerely hoping God would slow down one single younger gal long enough for you to connect with her in an authentic way.
Oh friend, no matter how you feel about mentoring, you’re not alone. While I’ve met a few women who have experienced heart-deep, life-changing mentoring relationships, I’ve met hundreds, maybe thousands more who feel differently. They respond to the idea of mentoring with a grimace and sigh of disappointment along with anything-but-unique excuses as to why it will never work for them.
Actually, I was one of those women before God changed my perspective.
But by His grace, God gave me a new way to frame the art of mentoring while I was still developing as a mentor and unknowingly being mentored by dozens of women. As I share in Impact Together: Biblical Mentoring Simplified, mentoring doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. It doesn’t need labels nor contracts. It doesn’t require a certification or years of training. It doesn’t have to be a forever commitment. But it can have an eternal impact.
Biblical mentoring starts with following Christ distinctly and then overflowing that abiding relationship onto those God has already put in your life.
But how do you know when you are following Christ in such a way as to be ready to mentor? How do you know who you are supposed to invest into as a mentor? And what if you feel like you need a mentor more than you need to find someone to mentor? These are valid questions, and ones I tackle in-depth in Impact Together, because the answers uncover both the excuses that hold us back as well as reveal when it’s actually the Holy Spirit either leading us forward or putting on the brakes.
Oh yes, there are times we shouldn’t pursue mentoring, like when we’re going through a mess that needs the support of a counselor or when there is no margin space in our lives to maintain a commitment. We also shouldn’t pursue mentoring to fill a hole in our lives or cling onto a man-made savior. Only Jesus will do, right?
An emotionally and spiritually healthy mentoring relationship is evidenced through the sharing of life-giving words, godly kindness, and companionship.
It’s the companionship we crave, don’t you think? And yet it is the fear of rejection that keeps us from looking for it. Yes, we long to be knit together with others, because unity in community is a reflection of God’s design. We see it in the God-head as we look at the relationship between God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, we enter into an authentic relationship with God, as well as the community that we know as the family of God. We gain sisters and brothers from every generation and walk of life, and yet, there is this breakdown keeping us from connecting as God intended. I believe we can tackle this obstacle through looking closely at generational differences and debunking the myths that keep us isolated. As I convey in Impact Together, once we understand how our older and younger sisters in Christ think and feel in light of their generational influences, we can move toward the type of relationship that Paul describes in Titus 2. As you pause to read this familiar passage, think of it in terms of family:
“Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.” (Titus 2:3-5 NLT)
Wouldn’t you agree that in our earthly families, we hope that the older siblings will shape and influence their younger siblings (for the good, of course!)? Isn’t this the heart of God for us as older women to younger women in the family of God?
This mentoring call is about passing on wisdom and modeling a biblical life that’s only possible when were are purposefully connected together in the family of God.
So what will it take to form those natural relationships that lay the foundation for the teaching Paul urges? While Titus 2:3-5 is a call for the older woman to impact the younger woman through teaching how to love well and steward responsibilities with purpose, the great crescendo of Paul’s message comes with the “how to” in verse 15:
“You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say.” (Titus 2:15 NLT)
We have authority to offer correction and teaching and encouragement to the believers in our lives. Yikes! That’s a huge responsibility and might feel scary. But if you look deep into the original language, you’ll uncover a Greek word that reframes it with tender purpose. In the New King James translation, instead of the word “encourage,” it is “exhort”, and the original Greek is “parakaleo.” The meaning is profound if you soak its fullness up. Parakaleo means “call to one’s side, call for, summon; to address, speak to (call to, call upon), which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction; to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort; encouraging; to instruct, teach.” To come alongside a younger woman as a mentor is indeed about teaching and training and instructing, but it will be received as a lecture and judgment and criticism if it is not done with equal measure of comfort, consoling, and encouragement designed to strengthen a soul.
Oh my, is this what you thought mentoring was about? Let me simplify it even more.
- Biblical mentoring is about first pursuing Christ with all your heart, soul, and mind.
- Secondly, it’s about reaching out to your neighbor — that next generation girl that crosses your path — and seeking to build a relationship rooted in Christ’s love as you would with any sister in Christ.
- Third, it’s about getting to the business of teaching, encouraging, comforting, consoling, and instructing her in the things of God as that relationship takes root and trust is built upon a firm foundation.
That, my friends, is how the “coming alongside” part of biblical mentoring takes shape, and how a God-ordained, organically-grown relationship can position you to eternally impact a younger sister in Christ as part of His Kingdom purposes.