Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Women Mentoring Women: Building a Spiritual Legacy

“Let’s use that one.” The sweet, older woman pointed at my five-year-old son’s right hand.

He's a lefty so he often reaches out to shake hands during our church's Sunday morning greeting time with his dominant hand.  After giving us all "good morning" hellos accompanied by a handshake, she stopped to greet him, taking care to subtly emphasize the use of the correct hand. Leaning over, she grabbed his hand and looked him straight in the eye. “Squeeze tight. Little boys should have a nice, firm handshake.” She smiled and walked on to the next person.

I love the wisdom and confidence that comes with age.  Who’s not going to take advice from a spunky, wise personality wrapped in the body of a grandma? Sign me up for all the sage advice you can give me. 

I know some people are opposed to the idea of growing older.  They do all they can to avoid it, but it’s inevitable.  For the record, I am not opposed to aging.  Once my gray hairs started their mission to make me salt and pepper (the hair color, not the nineties rap group), I embraced them.  Yes, it’s not as easy to sit in the floor and play with kids and I always make a weird groaning sound as I hoist myself up from sitting criss-cross applesauce. But really, the benefits do outweigh the creaks, aches, grays, and wrinkles of getting older. 

One of the fun things about getting older is that I don’t care nearly as much what people think of me.  You should see what I wear to Walmart…I fit right in.  Age has also allowed me to be more patient and empathetic than in my younger years because I have had more time to mess up and be forgiven. 

But the best benefit is something I have looked forward to for a long while.  I get to be the older woman written about in Titus 2 and man, do I love it.

Titus 2:3-5 is used as an example for Christian women who wish to mentor and be mentored. The ESV version says:

 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.

There is a lot of info packed into these three verses.  Basically, older women should live in such a way that they are an example for younger women. They should impart wisdom about attitude, character, life, and family.

As someone who was one of these younger women being taught by word and example, I have a huge respect for spiritual mentoring.  Once I became a Christian, I was a new creation, but it was comforting to have an older woman to be a living illustration of someone with a solid walk with Christ.  It was also helpful and sobering to have someone to speak the truth in love when I would fall short. (Sweet memories with Amy)

Last week I happened to stumble upon an email from Amy dated thirteen years ago.  In it she talked about a few of us leaving and how she missed our group. We were ready to face the world – getting married, going to grad school, moving to new towns, and starting new lives. We were sure to take her wisdom along on our new adventures.  She also talked about meeting with a new group of ladies and commented about how “young” they were.  Just as we were once young and in need of guidance.

She appreciated her role as a spiritual mentor and wanted to continue pouring into others.

Now I have the opportunity, as the older woman, to be that example and speak that truth. What a blessing it is to spend time with younger women and be a small part of their life. Being in this position means a lot of listening and asking questions, transparency, a lot of praying, and it means being available.

It is awesome knowing I get to be a part of something bigger than myself.  A spiritual legacy where Amy poured into my life and I, in turn, get to pour into the lives of others. It didn’t start with Amy and it won’t end with my college ladies.  It’s a blessing that keeps flowing. A legacy rooted in Titus 2, but lived out in women across time and distance. 

So, what does spiritual mentoring look like?

It can take many forms.  Some churches match older and younger women, where the older women have the responsibility to guide and mentor. Sometimes women decide to seek out these relationships on their own, looking for someone in need of mentoring or for someone to be a mentor. In both cases, this could look like one-on-one meetings in homes or restaurants where conversations happen over food or coffee, or over the phone when time permits. It could also take the form of small groups of women learning and guiding together.

Whatever the venue, the ladies’ ages, or the length of time involved, prayer should guide these relationships and commitment is key.  It’s a tangible way to love your neighbor as yourself and live out the guidelines provided in Titus 2.

Do you have a spiritual mentor? Are you a spiritual mentor?  What about your church?  Do they have a program for older and younger women?


Tammy SD said...

I agree 100% that aging has its advantages, and I appreciated that you could specify a few. It is very important that women avail themselves to leadership of the Holy Spirit to be used by God to encourage and grow younger women. My Aunt Pearl and my grandmother were my main spiritual mentors. I have never been in a church that had a specific and structured program for such. It occurred to me that "foster-parenting," serves in this capacity to some extend. That is a ministry that I have supported.
You can read some of my related blog posts at "The Big Picture," will be posted very soon. "The Back Story," is up now, and "Strength from Weakness or Injury," is another one.

Stephanie said...

Thanks, Tammy. I can't wait to read your blog.