by Gail MacDonald
Have you ever wished for a mentor in your life? Or have you ever thought about being a mentor to a younger woman?
You may be amused to read that all of my mentors have been dead people in books. It’s one of the reasons that I believe so heartily in reading biography, but also why I am committed to the fact that the young seek out the older and the older the younger to encourage and guide. The young could be encouraged by the faith, failures and stories of the older, and the older could learn what it’s like to live in today’s world. Confusion and inner turmoil is at an all-time high in our world. We need each other badly.
It’s interesting that Isaiah died thinking he was a failure. But we know from Elizabeth’s son, John, that his mother knew Isaiah well. It doesn’t say so, but it appears that Elizabeth taught Mary who taught her son, Jesus. The Gospels show us how much Jesus lived in the words of Isaiah. And later Paul, the apostle would also speak of Isaiah over and over again. Isaiah wasn’t a failure. But, how would we have known that if these two women had not spent a big chunk of time together?
There was a huge age difference between them, but Mary seemed to know this was the person that would stabilize her heart and soul. Think of it, Elizabeth’s open heart and generous spirit to this young woman will be known forever because she took the time, kept her heart tender, and gave her wisdom and insights to Mary freely.
What might you and I do to begin to have dialogs with those who are much older or younger than we? Why not take these two women as our models? There is nothing like it to build in another’s life after having lived so much, for so long. I know, I am there now, and loving the rich opportunities my husband, Gordon, and I have to walk alongside younger men and women.
There is also nothing quite like being the one who is energized, understood and built-up in the faith by someone who has “gone ahead” of us, had their own failures and gotten back up, using what they learned in the pain.
One person who had the privilege of meeting often with her mentor said, “In my 20s I had a mentor who encouraged me. She stimulated me to anchor my identity in Christ, not in a job or a person or a degree. She cheered me on to live a generous life, by being a generous woman herself. And she helped me find the people in the Scriptures from whom I could model my life. We talked, walked, played, prayed, made meals or washed windows together. All of it formed my longing to live my life for Jesus. Would I be the person I am today if I had not met her? My guess is probably not. I was floundering in my Christian faith until she saw something in me that was teachable. I am so grateful for our relationship and her choice to serve me and share her life story with me, which gave me hope for mine.”
Is it fear that stops us from entering into such covenants? I’m so grateful that Mary’s fear didn’t stop her and Elizabeth’s busy schedule didn’t prevent her…we need to think about these things…
Gail MacDonald is first a wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She is also an author, a speaker, and a counselor of Christian women leaders seeking encouragement and spiritual direction. She speaks on Scriptural teaching about human relationships, spiritual disciplines, and leadership dynamics.
Gail has spent fifty-four years alongside her husband who was the pastor of four congregations, ranging from the prairies of Kansas ranching country (seven miles from a paved road and twenty-five miles from the nearest town) to two suburban churches and finally to the heart of New York City.
They now live in New Hampshire, and their greatest enjoyment is spending time with their two married children and their families. Beyond this, they love to walk and bike, and are voracious readers.
Her books are: In His Everlasting Arms (Regal), The Heart of the Master (co-authored with Gordon, Servant), High Call; High Privilege (Hendrickson), and A Step Farther and Higher, (Multnomah; presently out of print).