Understanding the Value of Biblical Mentorship
By SARAH GUTHRIE & GUEST WRITER
Written by Sarah Guthrie:
It had become a treasured Sunday morning rhythm in the “coming of age” season in my life. While the rest of our house had a classic case of get-out-the-door-in-time-for-church mayhem, time slowed to a leisurely pace as I admired the adept movements my step-mom made in sweeping a trace of blush across her cheek. A veil of eyeshadow, a gloss of her signature pink lipstick — I was enchanted at the artistry of it all. God had brought this dear woman into my life when I was eight years old, and while she never placed her identity in her outward appearance, this womanly, lovely, feminine art form of applying makeup at our small vanity somehow enhanced the virtue that resided in her heart on a daily basis. On special days, she would share the traces left on the brushes and dot my face with an almost-invisible translucent glow. I felt like such a lady. And I desired ever-so-much for her to teach me.
They are our mothers or our grandmothers. They are our pastors’ wives or small-group leaders. They are those virtuous souls a season or two ahead of us in life, wisdom, and experience. They are those who have gone before us in the Bible or in books — leaving behind a trail of grace so we might follow them as they followed Christ. They are women of God. They are our mentors. And never have we needed them more than today. Here. Now.
Be it for a brief or extended season, a handful of heart-to-hearts or years of prayer and intercession, a deeply-rooted relationship or one only to be met in Heaven, the mentoring relationship is one that God has mandated in His timeless Word. He didn’t suggest mentorship or think it would be helpful — the Holy Spirit breathed the Words we read in the book of Titus:
Older women … are to teach what is good, and so train the young women … that the word of God may not be reviled … so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior (Titus 2:3-5, 10 ESV).
As time hastens on toward eternity, and femininity and biblical womanhood are considered an affront to females rather than the crowning glory of the daughters of Eve, we would do well to allow the nimble hearts of godly women to show us how to adorn our lives with the character of Christ.
And it’s so much more than makeup or meal-planning! True mentors are teachers of all sorts of good things. Mine taught me the finer points of what encapsulates a woman of grace and godliness right along with my worst fear — handling raw meat and living to tell the tale!
It has been said that a man’s chief end is to glorify God and we see that reflected in this collection of verses.1 The chief end of womanhood is to adorn the Gospel, to put it on display so that all might see, “This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Ps. 118:23 KJV). The essence of the word “adorn” is to enhance, to put in order and arrange, to prepare and decorate something, and — quite possibly my favorite shade of the word — it means to embellish with honor. It’s not a surprise that this is the same Greek word that we derive our English word for cosmetic … what my step-mom lovingly modeled for me and then passed down when I was ready to take my first steps as a godly young woman.
I sat at her feet for years and in many ways, I still do. In like manner, as we approach the mentoring relationship we must take care to sit at the feet of the godly women in our lives by assuming a posture of heart that can lap up the counsel trusted women have to offer. Proverbs reminds us that, “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out” (Prov. 20:5). It takes women of understanding to draw out that which God has placed in the lives of those we honor. Here are three ways we can be ready to receive their instruction.
3 Essential Heart Postures
A Humble Heart
In order to learn, one must admit that she does not yet know or grasp the subject at hand — be it hospitality, conflict resolution, or balancing a checkbook. As young women, we must be ready to ask for help. Christ demonstrated this when He was but a lad in the temple. Being fully God and fully man, we read that He laid aside all that He was and all that He knew and was found “sitting in the midst of the teachers…” (Lk. 2:46 emphasis added). This evidence of making Himself of no reputation is such a reminder to my heart to lay aside pride and say, “I don’t know, but can you teach me?”
A Prepared Heart
We must remember that our mentors are not our Bibles and it is unfair to treat them as such. Rather they are living, breathing, in-progress representations of living out the Word and have much to show us in the way of wisdom. The best way to receive the most out of your times together is to prepare your heart by steeping it in the Word of God before, during, and after you meet, as it is His Spirit who reveals the deep things of God to us. (See 1 Corinthians 2:10.) By doing this we will have “ears to hear” the instruction of those speaking into our lives in addition to a knowledge-base of Scripture to assist us in discernment.
An Expectant Heart
Mentorship is exciting! And we have every right to bring back those first day of school butterflies and mirror the enthusiasm we found over our newly sharpened pencils. Cherish these days and be expectant! As we bring prepared and humble hearts to the table, I would encourage you to also bring your questions. This takes forethought and is a wonderful way of maintaining focus in your times together. It will not only increase your anticipation, it will thrill the heart of your mentor! I often pray in the times leading up to a meeting and rummage around in my mind for pertinent questions in areas the Lord is growing me in and preparing me for.
. . .
Growing up, our vanity was only built for one. The accompanying mirror my step-mom stood at was far from glamorous. She didn’t have to share that space with me, but she laid herself down and invited me in. It’s a picture of mentorship. And it’s a beautiful picture of the Gospel.
Written by Lauren Robertson:
Finding a Godly Mentor: Practical Tips + Encouragement
Sliding into the driver’s seat of our Honda Pilot, I took a deep breath in an attempt to calm the raging butterflies in my stomach. I reached for my phone and punched in the address of my destination — the home of a godly, older woman. As I backed out of the driveway and started off down the road, I felt both nervous and excited. My mind was filled with so many questions I wanted to ask her and I was eager to learn, but I was also hesitant to share my personal weaknesses.
Since learning more about God’s plan for Titus 2 discipleship earlier that year, I had been praying about finding an older woman from whom I could learn. After a season of prayerful waiting and observation, the Lord clearly highlighted to me an older woman at church. As I observed Cathy — at church, in her home, with her husband and children — it was clear to me that this woman loved Jesus. I saw so many beautiful things in her life that I desired for myself … patience, joy, selflessness, and discipline, just to name a few. At my husband’s encouragement, I reached out to her and shared my desire to learn from her.
What has unfolded since that first visit with Cathy in her cozy, country-styled home has been a gift of grace in my life. In person over mugs of hot coffee or over the phone with several states between us, she has been faithful to point me Jesus and His Word again and again. We’ve talked about meal plans, respecting our husbands, newborn schedules, and what it means to walk in the Spirit. Cathy has shared Scripture that she clung to in the noisy busy days of mothering little ones (Psalm 61:1-3, by the way). Nearly every time we connect, she asks, “How are your times alone with the Lord?” And she always ends our time by asking, “How can I be praying for you?” and prays for me right then in the moment.
This kind of Titus 2 relationship is invaluable to any Christian woman desiring spiritual maturity; each of us needs the truth-soaked wisdom of women further down the road than us. We need the gentle reminders and sharpened perspectives of women who have experienced God’s faithfulness to them as His daughters — and who will encourage us to trust in that same faithfulness.
Though biblical mentoring relationships are God’s idea — and therefore important for us to cultivate in our lives — any and every mentoring relationship should be entered into with careful prayer and consideration. Here are some helpful tips I’ve learned as I’ve sought out these life-giving relationships in my own life.
Pray for God’s Wisdom in Finding a Mentor
While you shouldn’t expect to find a perfect woman to mentor you (she doesn’t exist), it is essential that you proceed with prayer and wisdom. So take time to observe and interact with the women in your life, your church, and your community of believers. Is there a someone who stands out to you as an older woman who is clearly devoted to Jesus? Is she actively seeking to know and obey Him? Pray and ask the Lord if He would desire you to approach her as a potential mentor.
Begin with Clarity and Purpose
Taking an organic, life-on-life approach to a mentoring relationship is certainly fine, but it is very helpful for you both to know what to expect and what kind of time commitment is involved. Write down what you would specifically like to learn from your mentor and then share your thoughts with her. Together, define what this purposeful relationship will look like. Will you work through a particular book or Bible study together over the next six months? Will you meet every other week at a coffee shop or in one of your homes? Or for starters, will you meet just once to pick her brain about a specific topic? Working out these details together in the beginning will bring greater focus and intentionality to your times together, as well as free you both from the awkwardness of having to “end” an undefined, ongoing mentorship relationship.
Treasure God’s Word Together
A biblical mentor will use Scripture to encourage you, challenge you, and teach you. Together you may take time to talk about practical topics like time management or potty training a child, but what will truly equip you to live out biblical womanhood is letting all those practicals flow from principles found in God’s Word. Though you are in essence “sitting at her feet” and gleaning godly wisdom, remember that the Word of God is your ultimate authority.
Do Your Part
Though you are sitting at her feet and gleaning from her wisdom, you do have a responsibility to humbly share the areas where you need help or encouragement, to complete any “homework” your mentor assigns you, and to make your meeting times a priority in your schedule. When an older woman agrees to mentor you, she is welcoming you into her heart and life, so do your best to honor her time and investment in your life by showing up and being committed.
A godly mentor will possess spiritual maturity and it will be evident that she is actively seeking the Lord and growing in godliness. However, do remember that she is not perfect — only Jesus is. Just like you, she makes mistakes and is in need of His grace. Holding her up to a standard she cannot meet is unfair and will leave you feeling disappointed and disillusioned. Don’t expect her to change your life — only Jesus can do that. Do expect God to use her as a beautiful instrument of His grace in your life.
. . .
God’s plan for purposeful, Christ-focused mentorship is more than connecting with another Christian woman over coffee and conversation. His plan is more than providing us with a listening ear or helpful advice. When women come together in the context of Titus 2 — proven, older women teaching what is good, and training younger women in godliness — the baton of faith passes from one hand to the next and His Gospel is adorned.