By Karen Ward Robertson
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God” (Titus 2:3-5).
As one of the few commandments given solely to women, this instruction to be a mentor should get the attention of every woman who reads it. These words identify the calling that should be central in the life of any older Christian woman.
We are his hands and feet on earth, representatives of his loving nurture, tenacious spirit, and overflowing compassion.
Where Are the Younger Women?
“I would love to mentor younger women,” Eleanor told me, “But they never come and ask me anything.”
There is no shortage of younger women needing encouragement and leadership. But, like Eleanor, older women frequently tell me they don’t have women to mentor.
As we go into the world, our mission is to make disciples (Matthew 28:19, 20). Jesus doesn’t tell us to wait for disciples to come and ask for help and encouragement. He sends us to seek them out as we walk along the way. No matter your age, there are women younger than you who need help and encouragement. You meet them every day.
Helen teaches a class for young women. As she sees the lonely, the confused, the exhausted, she starts conversations to get acquainted. She frequently invites them into her home, counseling from the Word and evaluating young lives with the wisdom that comes from decades of walking with Jesus. It isn’t long before some of these women open up to her with big questions about salvation and small questions about making applesauce.
Lynn teaches math to high school students. Because they see her living out a life of faith and truth, they are drawn to her as she talks to them about their struggles, victories, and needs. The youth group grows and Christian camp enrollment increases, but most of all, Lynn is a soft place for young people to fall when they are broken.
My own walk leads me through campus ministry and prison ministry. This is where I find younger women to encourage and teach. I also teach piano lessons, so I frequently meet the young mothers of my students. Wherever your walk takes you, whether the marketplace, the local park, or your son’s soccer field, God will lead you to people who may not ask for encouragement but who need it just the same.
Disciple Through Mentoring
As we walk with Jesus, we continually gain wisdom and discernment. The classroom of your heart is filled with insights from lessons learned and folders stuffed with thoughts and experiences. It was never intended to be a hidden closet cluttered with secrets, but a place for others to see grace and truth in action.
You may feel inadequate to mentor. Start where you are, but get started whether you feel like it or not. Love comes from the heart. God always shows up when we step out in faith to love. He blesses our efforts and connects us to people we can sharpen as iron sharpens iron.
You may feel you have too many sins in your life to be a mentor. On that day when all your deeds are known, it will be clear there was never any reason to fear if your life is an open book. For each of your sin struggles, there can be a younger woman to say, “She wasn’t perfect, but she planted what she learned as a seed in my life, and I grew stronger because of grace.”
Today I have 12 spiritual daughters I am mentoring. One of my greatest joys is seeing them bear fruit as they, in turn, mentor younger women. If I bring my 12 to Jesus and they each bring their 12 to Jesus, and each of those bring their 12, we have become a powerful group of women changing the world with love.
Turmeric makes chicken soup yellow. I needed to know this for a spiritual daughter this morning. Later on I also needed to know breeds of dairy cattle, a good recipe for cinnamon rolls, and how to make vegetable soup without a recipe. Yesterday I explained the reasons why farmers appreciate snow, helped a new librarian find authors for 6-year-olds, and I had lunch with a frazzled young mother at Wal-Mart.
Those seemingly unimportant tidbits we pick up along the way create conversations that lead to opportunities. Because we share what we know, others become comfortable enough to ask the tougher questions:
How do I know if he is the right guy for me? Why didn’t anyone ever tell me the mistakes I was making? How do I have joy when my child has died? How could God love me when my own parents didn’t want me? How do you know God is real?
As older women in the church, there’s no need to wait for an organized mentoring program to pair you up with younger women. There’s no need to wait to be taught how to be a spiritual mother. The only need is to accept the calling of Titus 2 and awaken to the needs and opportunities God places in our path.
How many times in your life have you longed for someone older and wiser to guide you? Who in your life loved you enough to open the door to the classroom of her heart? You can be that person for someone else.
Become a Dangerous Woman
Nothing has motivated me more to answer the call of mentoring than watching Titus 2 in action at the state prison for women.
“Aren’t you afraid to be in the prison with all those dangerous women?” my neighbor asked. ”Do you have to be around any serial killers?”
The prisoners we meet in the chapel have murder, child abuse, prostitution, and drug crimes in their pasts. But with hands clapping and feet dancing as they sing, they sound like any other group of women praising God. Leaning in to hear my teaching, they take notes and ask questions, diligent in their study of God’s Word.
The women are not dangerous women because of their crimes. They are dangerous women because they are Christians daring to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a fallen world.
Aimee, a Jesus follower in prison, grips my hand as she tells me her story. She will die inside the prison walls. Society has rightly sentenced her to multiple life sentences. She smiles through tears of compassion for her fellow prisoners, women who live in darkness, slaves to their sins and wrong choices.
“There is so much power in God’s love! I’m much more dangerous with a Bible than I ever was with a gun. Satan should be afraid. Very afraid.”
Satan is indeed afraid. He knows his time is almost up. He holds no power over the truly dangerous woman, the princess-soldier who lives out courage, gives wise counsel, and goes about doing good. His name is defeat, and the battle belongs to the Lord.
The most dangerous women in the world write Bible verses on the hearts of younger women. They act out Bible stories, making it fun to be in Sunday school as they teach beginning teachers how to teach. Pots of vegetable soup and loaves of fresh baked bread sit on their counters ready to be taken to the sick or weary neighbor.
Dangerous women have time to listen, to bind up the brokenhearted, to stretch loving arms to the needy, and to change the course of history with their prayers. They are the go-to people for love and encouragement when someone at work is going through a divorce, healing from an abortion, or feeling tired and cranky from a late night.
Dangerous women wage war on selfishness, loneliness, and cruelty. They send notes to young wives, encouraging them to love their husbands and children. They babysit for young moms when rest becomes long overdue. They show up to care for the widows, the orphans, the homeless, those in prison. Dangerous women counsel alongside the Holy Spirit. They love people deeply from their hearts, changing the world one younger woman at a time.
Just how dangerous are you?
Karen Ward Robertson is a freelance writer in Columbia, Missouri.
ARE YOU A MENTOR?
Most of us aren’t adequately giving and using the wisdom God put in us and those around us. What’s the next step for you to be more active in giving and receiving godly counsel?
1. Does it feel like your schedule is just too busy for this sort of thing? Ask God to help you see more clearly the
value of mentoring.
2. Do you feel intimidated by the idea of getting involved in someone’s life, and/or not knowing how to help them grow? Spend time in Scripture more consistently and ask God to help you gain confidence in the way his truth works through you.
3. Do you have someone in your life who has been building you up in the faith? Find someone to whom you can pass on this wisdom.
4. Do you have someone you are mentoring consistently? Consider asking someone to mentor and build into you, so that you’re continually growing too.
5. Are your relationships a little nebulous? Think of one person you’d like to have a more well-defined mentoring relationship with—then ask that person.