Thursday, June 20, 2013

Why, Yes, You ARE a Mentor!

I joined an online study group working through a neat book called Impact My Life: Biblical Mentoring Simplified and its study guide (I recommend them both, by the way.)  Something I was reminded of in the beginning is that mentoring is happening all around us.

I have, at times, longed for some Godly, wise, older woman to have a lightning-flash moment and come to me to say she'd like to formally mentor me.  We'd meet for tea and fresh-baked cookies (that she'd baked, of course) while I bore my heart, spilled my guts, and received her counsel.  She'd turn me into SuperMom, I'd be the best wife in town, and a little picture of me would be floating beside the 31st chapter of Proverbs in all the coolest translations.  

That never happened.

What did happen is that I watched the ladies of my church behind the doors of their homes when I'd join a girlfriend for Sunday dinner.  My mother took an active role in my life, even when I was sure I was smart enough not to need her butting into my teenage world.  I gained a mother-in-law on my wedding day that always knew the right scripture or when I needed her to just pray.  Women dropped tidbits of wisdom my way at precise moments, and I filed them in my memory to revisit when needed.  I even read books and listened to podcasts by gals who were brave enough to put their thoughts out there in public.
None of these ladies ever came to me with an engraved invitation--even though I probably did get my share of homemade cookies--but they collectively met my need to be guided along in this journey.  They still do.

In that way, I hope some girl could include me in the women who've shared wisdom with her.  I hope my own daughters can say that I've helped shape something positive in them.  I hope my daughters' friends can say that what they saw behind closed doors was compatible with what they saw on the pew, and that something in me caused them to look deeper into God's eyes.  

These past couple years of recovering from my femur break, passing through the surgeries, moving to be closer to the hospital, and generally pausing from what I considered ministry, I longed for the days when I sat in a circle with young ladies discussing purity and womanhood and grace and real beauty.  I missed those one-on-one chats with different girls about the specific goals we'd talked about last week or how she'd handled the relationship issue we'd prayed about.  I was frustrated by the feeling that my role as a mentor was on pause.

Reading this book reminded me that while I wasn't formally leading a small group or having intentional coaching sessions, there were people in my path that were watching and learning from what they saw.  Oh, God, I hope they learned something good!  I hope they saw someone gracefully accepting what had come her way while trusting God to heal and provide for her needs.  I hope they saw someone rolling with the punches as every part of life had to be rethought, still able to smile and thank God for something positive.  I'd love to think that they saw one of those women whose missionary biography I've read--some miraculous angelic woman of infinite wisdom and faith.  

I'm afraid that what they actually saw was someone who struggled, someone who questioned, someone who wrestled, someone who wasn't always finding the silver lining.  That's discouraging until I think of some of those role models I told you about earlier, and the imperfections I could nitpick in their lives.  But when they come to mind, it's for the good things I've gained from knowing them. I pray some girl will be able to say that about me someday.

Are you intentionally mentoring anyone, or being mentored?  How many girls can you think of who are being mentored by you without a formal weekly meeting?  Am I crazy, or is that thought just a BIT intimidating?!  ;)  


  1. This is a really encouraging post! I love not only the reminder that we are mentors, but also what you shared at the beginning about being mentored by different people at different moments even if we don't have an official mentor. At different times I've felt discouraged that I don't have anyone mentoring me and how I rarely even get to hear the sermon in church and thus miss that "pouring in" experience (no childcare until age 3, and all 4 of our kids are less than 3 years apart... I've spent a long time in the "nursing moms' and toddler room!"). It was encouraging to be reminded that though often I don't have anyone specifically building into me, God does provide "mentoring" through so many people and avenues. Thanks for this post!

    1. I am so glas you were encouraged by this idea, too, Ashley. The book calls those times when we are being mentored "accidentally" times of organic mentorship. It kind of reminds me of the old days when generations of women lived close together and interacted daily for survival. Your mom and aunts and neighbors just naturally modeled and taught you how to parent and cook and so on. I think I would have enjoyed that sort of life, except for the lack of electricity and indoor plumbing!

  2. Wow, Christie, I could have written your post - it SO describes where my heart has been lately! The desire to have a "formal" mentor is strong, yet I also am trying to be intentional about seeing where women throughout my life have been just that for me. And as I have had a bit of frustration for the many obstacles that keep my from "doing ministry" with the women around me like I would like to, you remind me once again that we don't know the impact we may have simply by living life as Christ wants us to in the little things. It IS intimidating to think about how many may be watching! And that is my prayer as well - that eyes will look to HIM because of my attitude, demeanor, faith, etc. Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. I'm so glad you shared this post and your reflections of what you've learned from the book and group. It is an answer to my prayers and my hope to see you go on to live the very real life of impact before you!

  4. really great post, Christie. when we are intentional about looking for those women who've impacted our lives, we can see that there really are a lot of them.

    i had two thoughts - one of the things i did as a younger mom was intentionally search for a mentor. instead of waiting for her to come to me, i chose to spend time with older women in whom i saw things that needed to be developed in my life. then, if/when/as a friendship started to "click," i would ask if we could meet every so often.

    i'm still in those relationships now...

    two - i've had the privilege of mentoring myself. similarly, i've not sought out younger mothers, per se - but i've had younger women ask to spend time with me... and while i've had to make the effort to say yes... i know those younger women seem to appreciate it. however, i think i'm more blessed by those relationships than they are, frankly.

    and, of course, i've got 6 girls of my own - that's a lot of "mentoring." :-)