Last fall I mentored a sweet, godly young woman. Or, at least that’s what she and I both claimed. The truth of the matter is that while we met together and prayed and discussed God’s Word, our roles of mentor and mentor-ee weren’t so clearly defined. In fact, in some of my more insecure moments, I fear she was greatly disappointed in our presumed mentorship.
Her request for my mentorship came at a strange time in my journey with the Lord. I was reeling from our church split, the effects of which spilled over into nearly every area of my life. Part of the aftershock was an increased sense of insecurity and extreme lack of confidence, at least for me. I knew (I still know) we were following the Lord; I had no doubts of that (still don’t). No, my insecurity was of a more personal sort. I guess anonymous letters and comments of a critical nature will do that.
Besides that, I had never mentored nor been mentored. I had no idea what to do or say nor what was expected. I was completely ignorant of all things mentor-y.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: I stunk at being a mentor and I feel terrible about it. Not to mention convicted. I’ve read enough of the Bible to know that it is God’s plan for the “older women…to teach what is good, and so train the young women…that the word of God may not be reviled.” (See the full context at Titus 2:3-5)
I’ve also come to the realization that, at forty and older than many of my girlfriends at church, I am among the older women Paul is addressing. Whether or not I’ve had mentoring modeled to me or whether or not I’m drowning in my own insecurity is incidental. I am to mentor. If you are a woman, forty or older, forty or younger, you are as well.
Such is the premise of Susan Hunt’s book, Spiritual Mothering: The Titus 2 Model for Women Mentoring Women. Hunt carefully explains the Mandate, the Model and the Method for a mentoring relationship between women. Both practical and encouraging, I was both inspired and convicted as I read of all that mentoring could and should be. Hunt encourages all women to invest themselves in a mentoring relationship with a younger or less mature believer as well as find an older, wiser woman to learn from:
My dear sister in Christ, don’t be relationship-poor and deprive yourself of the privilege of spiritually mothering younger women. Your life has great value. Wherever you are on life’s time-line, the experiences you have been through and the faith-lessons you have learned are worth perpetuating. Even as you look back and find a younger woman to nurture, I urge you to look ahead and avail yourself of the perspective of an older woman. You will be richer–other women will be encouraged and equipped–God will be glorified–His Word will be honored!
As she encourages we women to serve the Lord by investing ourselves in the lives of our sisters and friends, she asks:
Who is assuming responsibility to transmit Biblical values to these women? What world and life view is being communicated to women today? We hear that this is the decade of women. We must not allow the voices of the world to set the agenda for this decade, nor must we allow those voices to teach women how to be women. Christian women must speak with boldness and clarity about womanhood and must live distinctly Christian lives. Christian women must articulate a Biblical world and life view and the implications of this perspective for women.
As inspiring as that is, honestly, I feel as if I have little to offer. I mean, really, shouldn’t a mentor have something to teach? A couple of times in the course of the reading of the book, I wondered as much, particularly as Hunt described a young woman learning from her mentor’s “simple, yet nutritious and elegantly-served meals.” No such idyllic scenarios here, at mealtime or otherwise.
But I am reminded yet again that investment in another’s journey isn’t about perfection, the gospel of Lisa (God forbid); it is instead about humbly, joyously serving the One who saved me despite me. It’s about proclaiming the gospel in everyday life, doing everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and for His glory. It’s about doing life together, real life, the messes, the insecurities, the ordinariness. Not about making me the standard (God help us) but about seeking the Lord Jesus together.
How I long to be found faithful.