We were in a small group together. Maggie was vivacious, friendly, and clearly passionate about Jesus. She was a wife and mother of three. I’m not sure how long she had been a Christian at that point, but she and her husband were mature believers leading the small group my husband and I attended. I knew having a mentor was important. I wanted one, and she seemed like the perfect candidate.
Many Tuesdays my husband and I were early because fifteen minutes early means on time to my husband, Jim. As a result, I got to spend extra time with Maggie. I remember clearly one night, I was sitting at her counter while she was doing dishes. Heart pounding, I spit out my question, “Will you be my mentor?” To my surprise, she asked what I meant.
Shrugging my shoulders and feeling rather pathetic, I admitted I didn’t know.
She listed some options: do a book study, walk through questions I had…? I never ended up doing any of those formally with Maggie. Our relationship remained mostly the same. So, did we fail?
It didn’t dawn on me until later that we hadn’t failed. It made sense years later, when another young woman reversed the roles and asked me to disciple her. We had been writing letters back and forth to each other for about seven years. I felt surprised and confused at her request. What did she think I had been doing? In any case I thought I might need to change something.
I looked for good discipleship books and asked friends to recommend a method or resource. What we hadn’t considered was that discipleship was already happening.
What is mentoring? What does it mean to make disciples?
Mentoring is God’s idea in the first place. He gives us the best possible example in Jesus. For three years Jesus walked around with his disciples. He ate with them and talked with them. He taught and ministered in front of them. Jesus mentored by living his life in front of and beside his disciples.
This is what Maggie was doing; I just didn’t realize it. She was leading others, praying with others, displaying hospitality, instructing me and other women. Her life was on display to me. She was a great mentor. If you want a mentor like Maggie, you may not have to look past your own home. You may be blessed to have a Christian mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, or older cousin. Watching, observing, and working with women around you IS discipleship.
Imitate them as they imitate Jesus.
If not, maybe you have relationships like this in your local church. Is meeting with an older woman intentionally regularly wrong? Absolutely not! But if you are not already doing that, look around for who is in your life already. God knows what you need.
He put these instructions in His word, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2:3-5).
His sovereignty is bigger and better than any plans we have. He will provide for you. Perhaps along with looking for a woman you can meet with formally every week or two, recognize the women God has already placed in your life as mentors.
Let’s continue this conversation in the comment section below:
1. What is your current view of mentoring/discipling?
2. What other Biblical examples of discipling can you think of?
3. What older women are already mentoring you in some way?
4. What younger women in your life see you as a mentor, even informally? How can you be more intentional in sharing the grace of Jesus with them?
This guest post was written by Anna Hannigan.