Hands down, more than any other question that gets sent to me is “how do I find a mentor?”
Maybe you’re in a mom’s group, sharing your struggles, trading babysitting, serving in your church nursery to watch your own kid (because no one else wants to) and just trying to keep going, wishing that you could get some sympathy, besides the nostalgic “You’ll miss this” comments from the older generation at your church, who obviously don’t miss it at all, as not many help. (And you try not to clobber with tears the ones who do help.)
Maybe you go to a Bible study at your church, and you love that they dig deep into Scripture, but there’s never a right time to really talk about what is going on in your life. You hate having to sum up your enormous pain and struggle into a quick prayer request at the end of Bible study. You don’t want to be dramatic, and you don’t want to make Bible study all about you. You just want someone to care.
Maybe you daydream about having an older woman—maybe even a particular older woman in your church that you admire and respect, come alongside you and mother you through whatever season you’re in, hard or not.
If this is you—you might be wondering how on earth you can find a mentor, or convince someone to be your mentor.
I say this as someone who is passionate about training the next generation of mentors in the church:
It might be a strong word, but in the seasons where I felt totally alone and without help, I was looking for help in all the wrong places. In my brain was this ideal world I couldn’t conjour up. I kept thinking “If only she would help…” I was looking for my actual, physical help, as well as deep soul care in all the places that weren’t God. I kept thinking a mentor was the solution to all of my problems. I didn’t realize that in that season God was trying to teach me dependence on him. When I did finally get a mentor, she was one who was wise enough to ask me consistently: “I will definitely pray for you. But I have to ask, have you talked to God about this yet?”
I didn’t want to talk to God about it. I wanted to talk to her about it. I was idolizing some older women, and wanted them to swoop in and rescue me.
People will always disappoint you, when you expect them to perform god-like tasks. Even the most godly woman, who has walked with God for years will not be able to sit in a seat that is only meant for God in your life.
Remember Israel and Saul
Titus 2 talks about older women coming alongside younger women. I don’t want to diminish this design God has put in the church even one bit.
But I do want to warn you about wanting a leader with skin on. (1 Samuel 8.) Wanting to be like every other nation, wanted to be seen as successful on the world stage, wanting to do more than just worship their own God, Israel wanted their own king. They knew it would be a hardship, but they wanted it for all the wrong reasons. God granted them their request, but as a judgment.
Cry Out to God for Wisdom
You may now think that you should only ask, or only “deserve” a mentor once you have reached the spiritual maturity where you won’t be tempted to depend on the wrong things or people. Not true. I think deep down, what you want is wisdom. You want to know what to do next. You want to know how to survive your season. You’re not sure if you’re totally screwing things up. You don’t know if you should ask an older woman to mentor you, or even who you should ask.
God has promised not to deny wisdom to those who ask.
‘If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5
Ask for wisdom, in whatever situation you have. Be honest with God. Bare your heart, whether it’s in a beautiful place or not. And then pray, “Thy will be done.” Pray that he guides your heart to where he wants you. Maybe he will show you wisdom through the mentoring relationship with an older woman. Maybe he will show you wisdom through another means. Ask for peace that his will, will be done.
Because here’s the thing: you don’t need an older woman to come rescue you. You don’t need a self-help plan for your life. All the things that you think you need can really be summed up to: God. You need God to show up and be near. You need his comfort. You need his practical help. You need his salvation. You need his sanctification.
God uses mentors. I’ve seen him use mentors in amazing ways, and I will always be passionate about developing a community that is God-honoring. But they are not the only tool in his toolbox. They are not his replacement. None of them want to live on that pedestal, (or if they do like being on a pedestal, trust me…you don’t want them).
Wait Upon the Lord
Isaiah 40:31a says “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;” It doesn’t say that those who have a good community, or those who have a crackerjack of a mentor will renew their strength. Friends, it’s God you want for that. This doesn’t mean that you can’t ask a person to help you. Go ahead and ask! I just mean that you shouldn’t wait in expectation for them. You wait in expectation that God won’t let you fall. He will hold you up. He has a plan. It means your hope lies with him.
I wrote another post awhile back, talking about having no help. That might be a helpful one to review, and you can find it HERE.
Spread the Word
Help me in my mission to train in mentors who are rooted in sound doctrine. Send your favorite women my way. I’m doing another FREE webinar on February 18th (2019) at 7pm (CST) for those involved, or interested in mentoring ministries. Really, this one is so much broader than just mentoring and women’s ministry. This really could be applied to any ministry. It’s titled:
Avoiding Burnout Pointing to the Savior, without trying to be the savior in mentoring relationships.
In this webinar, I want to go deep with anyone who wants know how to start mentoring in the healthiest way possible. It all starts with some sound theology of the cross, and some practical ministry theology. We will talk on what God has called us to, and what he has NOT called us to, so that we don’t take on burdens he never gave us. It’s all about healthy boundaries, and training younger women to depend on the Lord, instead of grow an unhealthy dependence on us.
It will be about an hour long. This webinar will have a smaller number of available spots than my previous ones to keep costs down, so SIGN UP BEFORE YOU MISS GETTING A SPOT.
If this is something you think would help anyone you know, please SHARE this post, and spread the word. If there is enough interest and we get a waiting list, I’ll just offer it a second time.
There might be a woman in your church who has a heart for mentoring, but fears she isn’t strong enough or wise enough. I want to be emphatic that we bring nothing to the table: it’s all God and bearing witness to his faithfulness.
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