By Rachel Incus
Mentoring young women has been the core of my ministry for the past 16 years. Within those years I have experienced some of the joys and woes of mentorship. As a mentor to the youth of our church, I have had to sit and listen to some things that I would have rather not ever known, but God felt differently. In the beginning of my ministry, I started advising what I felt “The Good Book” wanted me to say. It worked for a few years, but then I realized that there was a reoccurring theme. They kept coming back with the same problems.
As I looked deeper into this, I realized that I wasn’t mentoring them. I was basically telling them what to do and throwing them into the battlefield ill-equipped. They kept on coming back because I was just telling them what the church expected me to say, but I didn’t help them along the way. I wasn’t mentoring, I was ordering. Mentorship requires more than telling others what to do. It is a long-term commitment. It is listening to women’s problems and challenges, and helping them find their way through. Take note that I said, “helping them to find their way through.” No matter how much you may know or what you think they should do, you must help them learn how to listen to God’s voice for themselves and find their way through their challenges.
One example I have never forgotten was when one of my young women decided that she was going to date a young man who blatantly rejected Christ as the Messiah. He was part of a religious sect that believed that Jesus was just an ordinary philosopher and revolutionary. Everything within me wanted to shake her and day, “Girl, WAKE UP!” The Holy Spirit didn’t like that idea. One night, she invited me to visit this young man’s family. His father was a High Priest and they were in the process of conducting worship. A few minutes into it, I wanted to run but God held me down.
As we left the home, I asked her how she felt about the service. She immediately started to rationalize and go around circles but her face said it all. She was scared! I took her for a walk and explained to her how as a Christian wife someday building a house on Christ would be difficult if her husband doesn’t believe Christ is the Messiah. I could tell she understood what I was saying, but that she was still torn. I decided to pray with her and told her I’d always be there for her.
Soon she started disappearing from church and no longer participating in activities. I kept all lines of communication open. I called her. I visited. I took her to dinner, movies, and continued building our friendship. All along, I restrained myself from sounding like her mother. After three years of prayer, mentorship, and friendship, I got a call from her one evening. “I broke up with him,” she said. I gasped! “I miss church and he wouldn’t let me come anymore.” I could have jumped right through the roof with joy, but I remained calm. I spent time comforting her. Shortly after, she started to come to church again. I continued to mentor her and help her find her way in the ministry.
Now six years later, she is a very active in church and is serving the Lord as a district level secretary.
Here are some keys to mentoring that I have found helpful along the way:
1. Start with prayer and the Holy Spirit.
Do not go into any opportunity with the notion that you know it all and can fix anything. Only God can fix a woman’s soul and make her whole again.
Don’t automatically assume you know what a woman’s problem is. Let her fully explain herself and don’t start planning your response in your head. Listen to her and listen to God’s leading as you mentor her.
3. Be real.
Remember that who you are today is by the grace of God and not of your own doing. Don’t be afraid to share that you too made mistakes in your life. It reveals that she is not alone and gives her hope for the future.
4. Use the Word.
Don’t be afraid to use the Word of God. It should be the basis of all your counsel, but remember to use it within the context of love.
5. Be patient.
Realize that it may take a while for the message to get through. In my case, it took three years and then another two to see her come back to church. Don’t give up and don’t force her hand. You always want her to hear God’s voice and come to the realization on her own. Don’t try to produce her testimony!
6. Keep the lines open.
Don’t cut her off just because she didn’t follow your “expert” advice. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about God. How many times did you disregard solid advice just because you wanted to do things your way? Continue to be there because she will one day come to her senses.
7. Let God get the glory.
At the end of the day, you will feel proud to see how God has used your broken vessel to heal another. It’s good to be proud, but never forget that you didn’t do anything. God did it all through you. Praise Him and move on.
Mentoring is a gift and requires commitment to seeing women through their individual seasons. What works for one may not work for another. You cannot approach every situation in the same way. However, you can apply the tips above to any mentoring opportunity. Jesus mentored His disciples for three long years. He was patient with their competitive attitudes, tempers, doubting hearts, and fears. If He gave up on any of them, we would not have the gospel we proudly cherish today.
It’s a privilege to share in the ministry of Christ. Commit yourself to doing as He did in order to encourage, strengthen, and inspire the women God assigns to your care!