“In his wisdom, God knew that mentorship would be a way to aid younger women while simultaneously preventing the faith of older women from becoming stagnant.”
By Jennifer Nanninga
instagram account @bloom.wild.schoolhouse
Each of us are in a stage of life we have never been in before, and while we can’t go back and relive the past with the knowledge we have gained, we can help someone else through our experiences.
Scripture repeatedly calls out to men and women to be examples and voices for the younger generation. To urge and admonish them and make disciples. We are told the importance of teaching others, of seeking wise counsel, of fellowship, of working, of restoring those who have gone astray, of loving, of serving and of stirring each other up to good works.
You may think you have nothing to offer a younger woman, but that simply isn’t true. Scripture tells older women to teach the younger generation. It gives no qualifications or requirements. There are no age brackets or accomplishments necessary. It simply says, “Let the older women teach the younger” (Titus 2:3-5).
Have you ever heard the educational concept that when you teach something you become better at it yourself? If this is so, then through mentoring you yourself can actually grow spiritually. The Bible proclaimed this thousands of years ago when it declared that, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another,” (Proverbs 27:17).
After years of studying the Bible and growing, we could easily become comfortable in our spiritual maturity. God knew this, so he commanded mentorship. In his wisdom, God knew that mentorship would be a way to aid younger women while simultaneously preventing the faith of older women from becoming stagnant.
How do I get started?
Start by looking at your circle of influence. Do you have a friend or relative with a daughter or a younger woman in your small group at church? Can you ask your Pastor if they know of anyone seeking a mentor?
The dictionary defines a mentor as “an experienced and trusted adviser.” Other synonyms are “guide, confidant, counselor, or motivator.” It also refers to teaching someone who is new to something. Imagine all you could teach a new student on a topic after only one month's experience. Your years of experience with life have prepared you for mentorship.
Start a conversation. Ask how they are doing or how you can pray for them. Get their phone number or email. Send them some encouragement or check in every once in a while. Wonderful opportunities and relationships can grow from small seeds. If you worry about carrying on a conversation, simply ask them to tell you about themself. If you want structure, then choose a book of the Bible with a biblical study guide or book to read together and discuss.
Be flexible. Starting a mentorship relationship can happen in so many ways. If the woman is a young professional, you may offer to meet her for a lunch break. You might join a young mother on a stroller walk or bring her coffee during nap time and talk while you help fold laundry. A young married couple might be able to come over for dinner. Mentorship is not required to fit into a specific time slot or location. Scripture models this when it tells us to teach God’s truth, “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:7).
Be real. No need to prepare sermon notes. You may need to study your Bible before answering tough questions, but you can always be an encouragement and model Biblical women by saying, “I don’t know. Let’s find out together.” Sharing the mistakes you made, what you learned and how you grew and changed might be the catalyst another woman needs for change. It may free them to share their own struggles and shames and lead to real and lasting growth.
Be present. Knowing that you have a person you can reach out to can be an incredible blessing. There is power in having someone to tell, “I’m not ok,” or “I need help.” Your presence can be felt by way of a quick conversation at church, a text, a coffee drop off, or a book recommendation. Let her know that you are willing to be a presence.
Your experience, knowledge and failures are needed. I needed them and many women need them now. She doesn’t need your perfection or your seminary degree. She needs your real life, in the trenches mistakes and successes to cheer her on, advise her, and give her hope. She needs someone whose perspective isn’t clouded by sleep deprivation or the pressure of peers. She needs the wisdom of a mother whose children have flown the coop, a retired professional, or a long-time wife.
Maybe she simply needs someone to keep her accountable. She needs you. Being a mentor is not about having a curriculum, it’s about pointing to Jesus. “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).