Mentoring and discipling young women is the heartbeat of by design ministries, and we know that many of you share our passion for impacting the next generations for Christ. But sometimes, even when you’re convinced of the importance of mentoring, questions arise…
“Do I have anything to offer?”
“What if she doesn’t want to listen to me?”
“What if we disagree?”
We hear you. Those are hard questions. So when we received a letter from one of the women whose mentoring relationship was impacted by our ministry, we wanted to share it with you. We hope you’ll be encouraged and inspired by her words!
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Let me share with you an interesting and encouraging conversation I had with a 20-something friend the other day. She is the daughter of a good friend of mine, whom I fell into mentoring rather “accidentally” a few years back, when she needed a temporary place to stay.
She still phones periodically from her new home far from here, usually at important turning points, to ask for prayer around job interviews, apartment hunts, etc. She always starts the conversation innocuously enough, talking about the weather or asking after my health … but then comes the real purpose for her call. It’s always buried behind 20-30 minutes of warmup, or “working up to it,” so if I don’t hang in there, I’ll miss what’s on her heart!
This week it was a couple of “random questions” (as she framed it), “and by the way, I have to leave pretty soon to go look at a new apartment.” So, what does she ask me? “What do you think about predestination? … And while we’re on that, what about Women-Leading-in-the-Church?” Just a couple of quick topics there, eh?
The thing is, she really DID want to know my perspective on these significant topics, and she was patient to listen, even beyond when she said she needed to leave the house. She expressed real appreciation for the biblical insights I offered, noting the careful, thoughtful application of the whole-counsel-of-scripture, in contrast to the knee-jerk, dogmatic, and dismissive responses she often hears on these controversial subjects.
I was pleasantly surprised, since she has (in the past) been pretty dismissive herself when I’ve offered a biblical perspective on some practical issue or need she was facing. That’s another reason to hang in there – because it takes time for people to grow into their ability to see and welcome a differing perspective, especially from someone older.
Her former complaint to me that “You always over-spiritualize everything!” has now become “I appreciate the way you apply the Bible to everything!” Who knew she was even listening, never mind respecting anything I had shared in the past?!
That conversation encouraged me to persevere with her and with others, and even to confidently welcome new relationships like this. If we start with the idea that “They’re never gonna want to hear anything I have to share” or “I have nothing to share,” then yeah, it’s a dead-end, a non-starter. But if we begin with the idea that God has intersected our lives for a reason, we can just go forward in faith that He intends to use whatever we would share. Whatever He has already put in us, our life experience and our walk of faith with Him, we will see Him use for the life and growth of the younger person, and for us as well.
And you know what? “Understanding that generation” didn’t even enter into it. I don’t actually understand her priorities or values. They are alien to my way of thinking. But I love her, and I care about helping her develop as strong and vibrant and biblical a faith as possible. And so I’m willing to push past the discomfort and the self-doubt, and possible rejection/dismissal by her, to simply stay in the conversation long enough – in any given phone call, and over the course of our relationship – for something eternally valuable to be exchanged.
For His Kingdom,
*This mentor has asked to remain anonymous to protect the privacy of her mentee.
Through our Organic Mentoring Conference and our Roundtable Mentoring Events, we’ve been sharing about the effectiveness of mentoring young adults in the faith. We will equip you with tools and confidence to reach out to the next generation. If you would like to host a mentoring event at your church, please contact us!