You are a story—a book God is writing—a book meant to be shared. Your story, like all good stories, has a hero—it is you being formed in Christ. The story is filled with scene changes, challenges, success and failure, relationships and a quest. Great heroic stories always have a quest. Yours is to make it to heaven with your faith and love still strong and to use your gifts to bring others with you.
So, how does one begin to find a woman to encourage—a person she can help in her quest? I don’t like lists. Life is more organic than that, but I think this might be a good place for one.
Seven Tips for Spiritual Mentors
Pray. Ask God to show you your fears and resistance. Repent if you have been denying your responsibility to pursue a woman who is younger or younger-in-the-faith. He promises wisdom to those who ask—so ask. Ask God if this is the season for you to do this. Sometimes it isn’t. Ask God to show you the value and significance of the work he’s already done in you; thank him. Be willing to share.
Search for a hungry, seeking woman—praying while you do. You’ll meet her in bible study or prayer group. You’ll meet her at retreats and social functions. You might see her crying in church and approach her to ask if you can help. She might be the woman beside you who just moved to town. Ask her to coffee, and see what God does. Approach people with curiosity and wonder. Don’t assume, but know that God by his Holy Spirit will confirm this is the woman through a mutual passion for Christ, his word, or similar stories and interests.
Invite her to coffee—once, twice, or more. My first group began after a bible study. I made some comments, and two younger women wanted to pick my brain. We had coffee. They were interested in going deeper and felt new to the things I already understood. Another group began after I taught Romans for a year. In another group, I prayed all summer before I felt led and pursued several women. Usually, there is waiting involved.
Decide the kind of relationship you want with the woman/women you want to meet with. Is it more formal—going through a book or study together? This is especially good for a new believer or someone new to Reformed beliefs. Is it to remain more casual—as friends chatting and praying over coffee?
Propose meeting regularly with the plan you’ve devised after more prayer and patient waiting. With one group I formed, I met individually with each woman and made the proposal: We’ll meet for one year, go through this book, spend time discussing the material, and let people share their stories. We’ll also pray together and for one another.
Coordinate a time and begin to meet. You’re the guide. Be faithful, on time, and prepared. They expect occasional calls, emails, or texts of encouragement. They need to know you are praying and caring for them, like a good shepherd. All of us feel frail and weak. You are the one providing encouragement and hope due to your experience and wisdom. God wants you to see their efforts, too. Most of us are more responsive to positive encouragement. See what God is doing and boast in his work in them.
Accept your imperfection, be willing to repent, and bask in the promises of God. This past week, I was extraordinarily busy and failed to prepare for my group. I confessed my failure. They accepted my repentance—knowing they have failed before, too. One woman did the material, and I asked her to share. Then I had each woman read silently sections of scripture in the unit and share what impacted her heart from the reading. It was perfect. The Holy Spirit was with us (of course) and each of us received a deep blessing from the evening. They loved the format, and I expect we’ll do it again. God isn’t dependent on me.
Remember: You are a story—a book God is writing—a book meant to be shared so others can read the stories too.
You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God. II Corinthians 3:2-5 (NASB)
About the Author:
An Alabama native, Linda Barrett attends Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church where she puts her ever-growing faith to work through teaching, mentoring and ministering in various positions of leadership. She has published several articles and devotionals and co-authored a unique Bible study for new-moms called: Engaging Motherhood: Heart Preparation for a Holy Calling. Linda blogs at: invitationtowonder.wordpress.com. Her current project is a collection of prayer and poetry that will be published later this year. Linda loves well-crafted stories, meaningful conversations, camping with her husband, laughter with friends and family, and worship and prayer with like-minded people.