Monday, September 1, 2008

Can I Have a Mentor of Your Time?

Laurie from Women Taking A Stand is hosting Chelsey's At the Well meme today. The topic is mentoring.

Five years ago, as I looked around my thriving, growing metropolitan church, I noticed that very few elderly people were in our midst. The thought occurred to me: How can we expect to grow in wisdom as a church without the very people who are able to model it? Since then, I have seen intentional efforts to diversify our young culture with people of all ages. This past Sunday at church, I greeted three beautiful seniors to my left and my right, and I was thrilled. I told one of the ladies that her blouse was gorgeous, and her eyes lit up the sanctuary.

See, we need to remember, whether we are single and waiting, menopausal, getting our AARP card in the mail, or somewhere in-between, that each of us has a valuable place in the Body of Christ. We, at any age, can be a Godly mentor and can be mentored as well. Without that diversity in our friend circle, our spiritual lives will be sorely malnourished.

Laurie's questions for discussion were as follows:
* Have you ever been mentored by someone?
* What characteristics do you look for in a Christian mentor? (see Scriptures below)
* How do you go about pursuing a Godly mentoring relationship?

I can guarantee you that if I had not been mentored by someone growing up, I would not be the same today. Lost in the middle of a broken, devastating childhood, the odds were against me having a thriving spiritual life. But my grandma, my great aunt and several women at church took the time to build faith into my life. In my high school years, I had one family in particular that took me under their wing...they showed me how to cook, how to carry out certain spiritual disciplines and so much more. One of the largest life lessons I learned from this pastor and his wife was that it was possible to have a long-lasting Godly marriage and loving family relationships. They told me it would be possible for me someday. And they were right.

In my young married years, I had a co-worker who taught me how to live out my faith genuinely, stripping away legalism. I learned loads from her about faith through difficult times, as she raised a blind son, went through several losses of employment with her husband and many other adversities. I remember her calling me and my best friend into her office to pray with her and cry with her. We would listen to her use the Word of God as her weapon, and it impacted both of us hugely.

The last several years, my older sister and a few other women I've served with in ministry have mentored me through my own difficult times, encouraged me in my spiritual giftedness and talents and walked closely beside me through my failures and successes. At the same time, God placed people in my path to disciple along the way. So yes, I've been mentored even before I knew that's what it was, and I continue to be today. And I've been mentoring others since I was an older teenager, and I continue to do so today. Blessing and joy have followed, as well as many deep, meaningful relationships. It's a beautiful system.

God has always provided mentors for me, I've never really looked for them. But if I were to search for one, I'd look for someone who is genuine, able to laugh at life (and herself), constantly pursuing Christ, willing to pray and go deep, and someone who listens before she gives advice. It's also extremely important to me that if the woman is married, she loves her husband sacrificially, not cutting him down or nagging him, supporting him in his weaknesses. And a huge personal bonus for me is to know women who can pull off style without lacking modesty. I'm sorry, but the midrif exposing or the top side exploding is a huge disappointment for me in today's culture of Christian women. (off the soapbox).

Scripture compels all of us as believers to live our lives for others--being other-centered. It even gives us the blueprint of a mentoring lifestyle, whether you're the mentor or the mentored.

Titus 2:3-5 (NIV)
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Proverbs 11:25 (NIV)
A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

Romans 1:11-12 (NIV)
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith.

Philippians 2:4 (NIV)
Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 3:17 (NIV)
Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.


Thanks, Laurie, for this great topic, and I pray that we will all learn so much more today as we gather at the well with open minds and hearts.

In the Key of HE,

15 friends shared a comment:

Homesteader in Training said...

My Mom was probably my best mentor growing up, though I really didn't know it. I struggled when I first got married but then I met a friend who knew how to do a lot of things and she inspired me to learn things that would better myself and my job as wife and mother. Now we encourage each other as I have definitely come a long way lol. I gleam a lot off the wonderful ladies I've met in blogosphere. You being one of them my friend. You are inspiring!
Blessings to you.

Chelsey said...

Wonderful! I knew that there would be some incredible discussion today on this topic. THIS is part of what our Christian walk as women is all about. My hearts cry is that we would raise up a generation of young ladies that would fill this role to the fullest. Thank you for your words today! :)

LAURIE said...

Thank you for your encouragement today AT THE WELL. I love it that you have sought out an older woman in your church. We need each other and I pray that God would help me to be the kind of godly woman as you described. -Blessings, Laurie

Joyfull said...

Wonderful post! That is a great point about the wise, mature adults in our church and our need to seek them out. Thanks for the encouragament and sharing.

Joanne Sher said...

You have been so blessed with Godly mentors, Laura - and you are blessing others with your example. I have had a mentor of sorts since I got saved (not the same one the whole time), and it has truly been a blessing. I find you and the girls to be that to me too - and that I can do the same for you in ways.
Inspiring, my dear.

LauraLee Shaw said...

Yes, Kim and Joanne, one of the things I wish I had worked into this post is the virtual mentors I have as well. So many women I have met through Faithwriters and the blogging world that I admire and respect so much. ;)

Debra said...

What a beautiful post! It spoke to my heart tremendously. I would not be where I am at today with the Lord if it weren't for some beautiful, godly women who took the time they did with me. Right now I have two mentors...they are in their 80's and I cherish the time I have with them!

I can just see the woman's eyes lighting up when you told her about her blouse! That was so beautiful to read!

God bless you, beautiful post!

Paul said...

Great post. Personally, I'd like to see this aspect of our tradition stressed much more - that is, "picking up your cross and following," "working because the night comes when no one can work" and all the other great many verses exhorting us to see Jesus Christ as an example for our own lives.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Lisa Bevere's most recent book "Nurture" speaks to the issue of mentoring and coming alongside another with the intent of passing the torch and receiving the light therein.

To list my mentors would take too long, but I am now beginning to see myself in the role of shepherding young women...in particular, the bank ladies. Yes, the bank ladies. They're so young and perky and unaware of much beyond weekend parties and an occasional diaper.

I just love them. I bake them stuff all the time and stick in tidbits of wisdom with every deposit I make. They're drawn to me somehow, and I want to make a better effort at showing them Christ in all that I do.

Sounds small, I know. But God allows me many smalls that when added together, look a whole lot like "much."

peace~elaine

Patsy Clairmont said...

Mentoring ends up being reciprocal...because you can't genuinely give to another without it splashing back. I love that.

My verse is Ps. !:3

I wanted to grow from a bush to a tree...with fruit, regardless of the season.

Laurie Ann said...

I didn't have a mentor growing up, I'm sad to say. The life lessons learned when I was young were more along the lines of verbal and emotional abuse and it wasn't until I reached my late teen years and eventually marrying that my mother actually moved into a mentoring relationship with me. Steve's mother also taught me many of the things I needed to know about being a wife. I love the lessons you shared with us and the inspiration and encouragement that went along with it. Thank you for sharing this part of your lifesong.

Dee Yoder said...

I've had many mentors in my life. And I like being at the point in my life now when I can actively mentor young moms and couples. It's so good to see how the Lord wants our church families to be healthy with examples of many ages and much wisdom for each succeeding generation. Great post!

JesusRulzMe said...

LauraLee,

I ALWAYS love stopping by and visiting with you. You have such a tender heart towards God and HIS desires and passions above your own....or should I say, you delight in His passions, therefore they become yours! :-)

I love your post and how you shared that you've been mentored before you even knew what it was!

Isn't that just like our awesome and gracious Father? To always give us what we need, even if we don't know we need it at the time to even ask for it!

Our God is awesome and I'm so grateful to Him for everything!

Bless you dear sister,
Sunny

BP said...

This is indeed a great topic. Like you I've had various mentors throughout my life which I'm thankful for today. One that came to mind was my supervising teacher when I was student teaching. She was such a wonderful Christian teacher and also encouraged me as I was about to get married after graduation. She gave me the book Power of a Praying Wife. That really touched me that she cared about my marriage.

Jill said...

I enjoyed reading your words about mentoring a topic dear to my heart and one that's been critical in my life. It is great how God puts these people in our lives and blesses us with their presence. As I struggle thru some difficult times, I realize God has given me spiritual mentors to constantly point me to Him. I value my spiritual "moms" advice on parenting and marriage, but am forever grateful for her prayers and role in strengthening my faith.