I have heard younger women say frequently and regrettably that they never had an older woman to mentor them. This made me sad, and as I began to meditate on this disappointment that arose in conversation too often, one thought kept returning. Most people, not just women, have had plenty of mentors in life; but there has never been intentional or ceremonial mentoring. The absence of clarity or intentionality causes young women to feel a lack or overlooked in this area.
I have written extensively on this subject. Follow the link to this post,”Never Had a Mentor?”
Mentoring takes place in life, but it is not always in the way we dream. Some of my best inspirational leaders were completely unintentional. I admired something about an older woman and drew close to learn. Without her knowing or noticing, I leaned in, observed, listened intently, mentally took notes, threw myself in her pathway, and soaked it in. I also became grateful and let go of the idea that I had never been mentored. I had. Although it didn’t happen in the magnanimous way I desire, it happened. I had gleaned and grew spiritually from many yielded lives by just being alert and watchful.
This mentoring-fail story is sort of humorous and sad at once, but I learned something valuable about being equipped. Once I purposely approached an older woman and asked her to mentor me, and she said yes. She looked shocked, but she said yes. Then it got really weird, and she started avoiding me. Eventually our relationship became strained and sadly non-existent.
She wasn’t ready for the commitment, or I asked the wrong person. I just don’t know, but I chose not to be offended. To this day, I have the greatest admiration for her life and walk with God. In retrospect, I did learn from her in the disciplines of life both spiritually and day-to-day by observation and just flat-out copying her as she followed Christ. So that “asking to be mentored” adventure didn’t pan-out for me in the ceremonially way, but I learned from her life in spite of the awkwardness. I am so grateful for her life to this day!
But the more I thought about the need to be mentored, I began to seek the Lord in earnest. The complaint of many young women about the lack of mentoring rang in my ears, and this is the gem the Holy Spirit dropped in my heart.
As I closed my eyes to pray, I saw Jesus with His disciples at the Passover table. I saw John, called the beloved, leaning on Jesus breast. And the Lord asked me, “Why did John lean on Me?” I thought for a minute and heard another question, “Did I invite John because he was more gifted or anointed?” I answered no, I don’t think so. Another question, “Do you think John knew that it was permissible to lean on Me because of the intimacy of our relationship?”
This was such a revelation and brought tears to my eyes. I knew Jesus chose John, but didn’t realize John chose Jesus in a more tender and close way than all the others. That is why he was called beloved!
We won’t know until heaven how John and our Master became this close, but I saw for the first time that perhaps their relationship was precious above the others because John pursued Him. I had always believed Jesus pursued John — of course he did originally — but later, maybe they became fast friends because John made sure it happened. John took him seriously, made sure he got a seat close by, expressed his love and appreciation, and listened. Maybe John loved Jesus more than the others and unashamedly showed it.
I don’t about you, but I appreciate when I am around people who show love and affection to me. I want to be with them above all others. So did Jesus.
The lesson that I see is if you want to be mentored, go after your mentor. Don’t wait to be acknowledged for your calling, gifting, anointing, or experience. We all don’t have the same calling or giftings, but all have the same ability to draw near to someone older — even if it is not ceremonial or official. And I would also add, draw close to several more experienced women, not just one. It exponentially increases your knowledge, maturity, and spiritual revelation.
At the same time intentional, mentoring is very valuable. If you are blessed to be involved in a relationship then take full advantage. It is a God-given design. In our current mentoring group, here are three goals we look to accomplish this year.
1) To fulfill the admonishment that older women teach younger women
“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)
Just as younger women need to be trained, so do older. They must be taught to fulfill God’s in this way. As a leader and older woman, I am instructed by scripture to teach what is good, to love husbands and children, to live wisely and purely, to love the home, do good and to obey husbands. These are the virtues on which we will concentrate as a group as they apply to each of our lives and stories as we walk together for this year.
2) To encourage and edify each other
“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing” (I Thessalonians 5:11).
Even as we are mentored by someone older, we never forget about our responsibilities to each other. Each in the mentoring group will have a turn to tell her story, and we all will listen and give encouragement and words of affirmation for the journey. We will weep and rejoice with our sisters’ wins and losses.
3) To be formed into the image of Christ– specifically in this group we are looking at how brokenness shapes His form in our lives and reveals Messiah’s glory and power to the world.
“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord–who is the Spirit–makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight” (Luke 24:30-31).
Lastly, we will examine the brokenness of our lives and how God can heal and use the low places to reveal Jesus to a hurting world.
The world’s message to women is to be strong, equal to men, mighty, and brave. This is good, but the part that is missing is that we shine when we are broken before a loving God. That Jesus is revealed in our weakness. Then and only then are we strong!
The first myth about mentoring is that maybe you feel like you have never been mentored, but you have! All have been mentored in some way. Acknowledge and develop a heart of gratitude toward those that have invested in your life, knowingly or unknowingly. Go and thank each for her contribution. Seriously. Write letters of gratitude to the people who have influenced your life. Just express how others have allowed you to grow in some way. This may take some time, so make it a lifestyle.
The second myth about mentoring is that intentionality or ceremony must exist for mentoring to be valid. Recognize the great influences you have around you, and realize it is a form of mentoring. Release feelings of being unacknowledged or untrained in the way you had dreamed. God will never disappoint. He is always behind the scenes working for your good.
The third myth about mentoring is you must wait for a leader to acknowledge you to be mentored. You can do the asking. If you admire someone’s walk, then risk and ask. If they don’t follow through (like mine!), still glean from her life and remain grateful. Then ask someone else. If that doesn’t work out, then release it and keep gleaning gratefully from the lives of others.
The fourth myth about mentoring is that one mentor holds all the answers for your journey. Scriptures say in Proverbs 11:4, “There is safety in a multitude of counselors.” Even if you have one person mentoring you, she cannot bear the load of responsiblity for your life alone. Branch out. You will be so glad you did.