01 Oct Women Mentoring Women: What It Is and What It Isn’t
by Cayce Finley
Recently our women’s EQUIP team hosted an event called Fondue & Friends. It was a sweet night of light-hearted laughter, engaging conversation, Biblical encouragement, and, of course, chocolatey-flowing fountains. Almost two-hundred women gathered to connect across generations and hear why and how to pursue mentoring relationships with other women.
I left that night with a clearer picture of mentoring and the significant role it plays in a Christian’s growth. One of my takeaways from the evening was the exhortation from the panel that mentoring can take many forms — and often, it looks vastly different from relationship to relationship.
In light of that and because writing things down helps solidify them in my own heart and mind, here are a few more takeaways from that evening. May they remind you — as they have me — that Christian mentoring is meaningful, doable, and 100% worth it.
4 Things Christian Mentoring Isn’t
Sometimes the best way to understand something is to first look at what it isn’t. Largely pulling from the panel guests, here are four things Christian mentoring isn’t.
1. Christian mentoring isn’t only formal, weekly, and structured.
It’s not that mentoring can’t be formal, weekly, or structured. It’s just that it doesn’t have to be.
If you’re like me, you found this incredibly freeing and motivating. And while there may be specific needs and seasons where structured mentoring is best, most mentoring happens in the unfiltered, informal, sporadic moments of life.
It’s important to remember that just because you don’t need a formal plan and routine, both women must be willing to be vulnerable and authentic. Often you will benefit the most not when you see your mentor’s strengths and successes but when she is willing to expose her missteps and mess-ups.
2. Christian mentoring isn’t limited to you and one other person.
The truth is you may have several women in your life who are mentors — and many more who drop in and out of your life depending on your season of life or where you live. This model of many advisers (Prov. 15:22) may even be preferable as it guards against either woman having unrealistic expectations or the mentoring relationship slipping into codependency.
3. Christian mentoring isn’t the sole responsibility of the older woman or younger woman.
The truth is a mentoring relationship can be initiated by a younger or an older woman. If you have a desire for a godly mentor in your life, pursue it! Likewise, if you’ve been walking with the Lord for some years and would like to invest in a younger woman, speak up and say so. The back-and-forth of mentoring is a call to all women, not a specific age bracket.
4. Christian mentoring isn’t only for when you’re young.
As much as I want to “graduate” from needing wisdom and guidance, I’m quickly learning I’ll always need older women in my life, no matter my age. Ask any older Christian woman, and I’m guessing they’d say the same.
What that means is that mentoring isn’t just for younger women. When you’re 50, 75, or even 90, you’ll still have questions and need godly counsel to navigate the days ahead. Think about it:
- At 49, you may need help learning how to relate to your now-adult children.
- At 65, you may need support if your spouse retires, receives a difficult diagnosis, or passes away.
- At 68, you may need guidance if you find yourself caring for aging parents.
- At 79, you may need encouragement as you transition to an assisted living facility or move in with your adult children for care.
The need for saintly wisdom will never stop until we meet our God face to face in glory. Until then, may we be women who seek it out in others who have gone before us.
What Christian Mentoring Is
Now that we’ve seen what mentoring isn’t, let’s look at three things Christian mentoring is.
1. Christian mentoring is between [at least] two Christian women.
This may go without saying, but it feels important to mention. For the purpose of this post and our recent women’s event, a mentoring relationship in the church is between two Christian women.
As such, both women have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for the payment of their sins. They have received His forgiveness, and their chief desire is to live lives pleasing to Him. It’s this foundation that forms and stabilizes the mentoring relationship.
2. Christian mentoring is God-focused and Bible-centered.
What sets Christian mentoring apart from other types of mentoring is that it’s God-focused and Bible-centered. Since both women in the relationship are Christians, any advice or encouragement should line up with God’s Word — should counsel contradict the Bible, it should be quickly discarded.
I was particularly challenged by what Lisa Strawderman, one of the panel guests at the women’s event, relayed about many of her meetings with Liz Chasteen. She freely admitted she didn’t always have answers to offer Liz, but what she did have was unwavering faith in God’s Word and His promises. She could point Liz to the Scriptures and to God’s never-changing, trustworthy character. And that’s really what Liz needed most.
Like Lisa, you don’t need all the answers to life’s challenges to be a mentor. You just need a willingness to share your experiences and point others to the God you love.
3. Christian mentoring is both planned and/or spontaneous.
Planned mentoring is just like it sounds — carved out time and space to listen and learn from someone older than yourself. Spontaneous mentoring is just the opposite — mentoring that happens as you “walk by the way” (Deut. 6:7).
One of the things I love most about serving as a kitchen coordinator once a month during Kids Connection on Sunday evenings is the steady flow of godly, older and younger, Christian women I have the chance to spend time with during the evening.
Often, during pockets of free time, I try to be intentional with the ladies there who are serving with their small group. I have found that having a few questions in my “back pocket” helps — and allows me to be the grateful recipient of a woman’s story, experience, knowledge, and wisdom. Here are some things I like to ask:
- What is your salvation story?
- If you could go back to my age, what would you tell yourself is most important? What is least important?
- What is the best thing about your current season of life? What is the hardest?
Choose one of these questions (or come up with one of your own) and tuck it away. The next time you’re with an older Christian woman, look for an opportunity to ask it. It’s such a simple way to engage in “spontaneous” mentoring — and who knows, it may be the start of a beautiful relationship.
A Compelling Picture of Mentoring
If you were blessed to attend Fondue & Friends, I know you were encouraged like me to seek opportunities to engage with other women and learn from their wisdom and experience.
I’m so thankful for our women’s EQUIP team and their work to host an event that would, yes, be lively, fun, and full of yummy treats, but would also put before us examples of women who have embraced the call to mentor and be mentored. Together, they painted a compelling picture of mentoring — one I’m excited and challenged to pray for and pursue in the days ahead.
One opportunity to do just that begins on Sunday, October 3. For six weeks, women of all ages are invited to join together and study the book of 2 Peter. Learn more and register for the day and time that works for you. Childcare is available.