Grace-filled, Real-Life Mentoring
I’ve had the topic of mentoring on my mind for the past few weeks because a sweet young woman asked me to mentor her for a spell, and I’ve also had a few question on the topic asked by email, (which I am woefully behind on! Wedding season!!) so I thought I’d share a few thoughts again on how I mentor and what that looks like.
When I ask someone to mentor me, I’m basically asking someone to show me “how it’s done” whether the topic is homeschooling, cake decorating, organizing, or crafting.
When I ask someone to mentor me in the ways of Christ, I’m asking them to help me be successful according to Scripture. Teach me to discern the will of God from the written WORD of God.
It’s good to know why the mentee wants you to mentor them, so you know what area they want growth in, so always ask.
Then, in its simplest form, a Christian mentor is simply someone who helps you to look intently into the Word of God, and to ask questions about your situation:
- Does the Bible speak to this situation specifically? Where? Meditate on it.
- Does the Bible speak to my situation in principle? Where? Meditate on it.
- Does God require obedience in this area or forbid participation?Where? Mark and meditate on that.
- What is the heart behind this passage?
- According to the revealed Word of God, what is my next right step? Make a plan. Choose ahead to do right.
When you mentor a younger woman, your goal is to put her into a deeper relationship with her Bible and her God. That’s about it. This is real-life, grace-filled mentoring.
You will be a failure at mentoring if you decide to:
1.Tell your younger sister everything you think about all her choices, aka…if you are judgmental or have a critical spirit. I’ve seen women do this in an attempt to be experts in all things “righteous” so they comment callously about their dislike of this style of music, clothes, education, parenting, blah, blah, blah. It goes without saying but it doesn’t really matter what you think if your approach is loveless. And our “opinions” aren’t too important, either. You can shut someone off by a sour spirit or critical words. We need to make sure our words are Spirit-directed.
James 3:13 says that a person who is truly wise & who “should” teach is a person with good conduct coupled with a meek, peaceable spirit. It goes on to say that bitter jealousy and selfish ambition (pride), disqualifies you from any claims to wisdom. A wise person, who is full of God’s wisdom (wisdom from above) has a pure heart and pure motive for her speech. She’s also a peacemaker with her words because she’s filled with the Holy Spirit and it has enabled her to choose deference, unity, and to put others above herself. She doesn’t have to have the last word. She doesn’t say whatever comes into her mind. In her spirit, she’s gentle, and in her mind, she’s reasonable (sound in mind, self-controlled in emotion and thoughts vs. paranoid, bitter, unloving)….
But I really love this part of verse 17: She’s full of mercy. Full of good fruits. Isn’t is true that “grace always attracts; judgement repels”? (Chuck Missler)
And then verse 17, a woman who is truly “meekly wise” is also impartial and sincere. Impartial. Isn’t that a glorious through? No preconceived hatred. Unbiased. Unprejudiced. Fair-minded. No bitterness or grudges toward anyone. Have you ever talked with someone who at the very mention of a person or organization that they dislike, their face begins to contort with disdain? They don’t even hide it. Yeah, that’s not someone who is an impartial, peaceable mentor.
2. Try to build yourself up on the back of your young mentee. The flesh loves to be seen as the go to person, the know it all. Don’t make your mentee believe that she needs you, as though you are indispensable. Your mentee needs to be passed from you to reliance on God. You should come away from the mentor/mentee relationship having bettered your mentee, aka, you should have built her up in the faith. But she’s not your trophy, and she’s not indebted to you. It’s not about you at all, except that you’ve been used as a vessel for God.
3. Reveal what you’ve received in confidence. One of the requirement for an older woman is that she’s not a gossip. This means that she doesn’t reveal information about anything she learns in the church in veiled prayer requests, or in passing comments that would connect a person to a real problem. “Oh, I was talking to Sarah the other day about a few struggles she was having with her children, and I just recommended her this book, XYZ. Maybe you’d enjoy it, too?” Nope. Don’t do it. Don’t use anyone’s names.
4. Say something you’ll regret later, because you are a “sister” to this younger woman, and if you do, you’ll strain/forfeit a lifelong relationship you could have invested into for the momentary pleasure of speaking a harsh word that can never be un-said. (Plus, you’re not showing her by your actions how a godly Christian woman behaves properly.)
Your goal is to help your younger sister along the next step in her real life Christian walk. She should come away from you with a desire to love the Lord her God with all her heart, mind, soul, and strength, and also more mindful of how to love her neighbors–her family, children, husband, congregants–as carefully and thoughtfully as she loves herself.
If you have a chance to spend time with a younger woman in a non-mentoring context, the goals are still the same. In every relationship, loving God and others is paramount, you are to be a GOOD example to them in word and deed. Don’t try to impose your standards on them. Live out your life BIBLICALLY before them, and they may even admire you enough to adopt some of your standards, but that is beside the point.
Of course, this can all be done running errands, having coffee, picking strawberries, visiting the sick, as you walk side by side on a common journey with Christ as your aim and end.