Last night as I drove home from my MOPS group’s Christmas party for the leadership team, I was struck once again with a haunting thought. “What in the world am I doing being a mentor for younger moms? Do I have anything at all to offer these women?” Really now, in some ways many of them seem to have it more together than I do!
As much as I love this ministry and the opportunity I have to mix and mingle with these young things every other week, I don’t ever get to the point to where I feel especially comfortable in the role of mentor. After all, just last year I was toting my own two preschoolers around in my mommy van and leading them in rousing renditions of “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” with the Disney sing-a-long tape. The year before that I was in high school.
Truly, my kids are now well into their teens, but I don’t know exactly how we got here. I may be 45 and almost through with the active parenting years, but I still feel like a vulnerable, needy, young thing myself most of the time. In fact, I still think occasionally about what I want to be when I grow up! You too? Yeah, I guess we never really feel like we’ve gotten there.
But just as all these familiar doubts were swimming through my head last night, I turned the radio on and was greeted by the familiar voice of Dr. David Jeremiah. Somehow God hooked us up last night because Dr. Jeremiah was talking about the responsibility we have as “older” believers to step up to the plate and fight the good fight, lead the way, and mentor the younger. And by older, he wasn’t talking chronologically gifted. He was very clear that growing Christians don’t stay babes very long. So if you’ve been following the Lord for anytime at all, according to Dr. Jeremiah’s take on the scripture, you’ve got a responsibility to be leading someone.
In all fairness, Dr. Jeremiah was actually addressing “older” men, but he later explained that everything he had said applied to women as well. After all, he was taking his message from Titus 2, a passage we have long associated with the call for mentoring.
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored. …in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech that is beyond reproach, in order that the opponent may be put to shame…” (Titus 2:3-5,7-8a)
That last part is key, because as Dr. Jeremiah pointed out, there’s a battle going on here. This is not an optional enlistment; there’s a draft and if you’re eligible, you’re in!
Well, I still don’t feel anymore qualified to mentor (in any way) women who are either younger in the faith or those who are simply following me in the seasons of life. But the truth is, I suppose, I am. While I certainly haven’t “arrived,” I have been a believer for many years, I’m growing in my faith daily, and I have indeed done a good portion of the marriage and mommy thing with at least a little success. Perhaps more importantly, I’ve learned from my mistakes and I don’t mind sharing those lessons with a little humility.
According to multiple research studies, young women are actually hungry for older women to come alongside them, receptive to their advice, and eager to be befriended by them. Go figure. What they need to understand is that to us older folks, in many ways, they are intimidating. The younger generations seem to be better educated, more sophisticated, and very discriminating in their tastes. I have a feeling that I’m not the only “older” woman (notice I keep putting older in quotation marks because I’m just not willing to actually admit that I am indeed older!) who shies away from engaging with younger women because they just scare the pants off of me! They’re so pretty and slender and energetic and young, for pete’s sake!
Ok, enough excuses and whining. The point is, we all need to be leading someone, ever so gently, down this path. If we’ve been on it more than a few days, we’ve been drafted to serve those who are not quite as far down the trail.
Where are you in this equation? Is it time for you to look behind you and reach out with a helping hand to someone there? Even if you’re in your 20s, there are those in their teens who look to you for direction and support and encouragement. We all need to take a glance over our shoulder now and then and see if there’s someone we can help out – maybe show them the rock we stumbled over or point them to the side of the trail that we navigated with some success.
Or are you in a new place in life where you could really use a helpful guide to assist you a little? Please remember that few ever feel prepared to lead. Don’t be resentful if no one is reaching back to you. Instead, just reach ahead to someone, grab them by the hand, and let them know you really want their friendship and encouragement.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the whole mentoring thing. Do you mentor someone? How did that get started? Do you have a mentor? How did you find her?
Hey, have a great weekend! I’ll see you next Monday!