I Am the Older Woman!
How did that happen? The realization came with a shock, as I was reading Titus 2:2 and pondering these words:
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:2 ESV
How do older women train younger women? I wasn’t sure, so I looked for someone doing this well, hoping she could teach me. The quest led to Margaret, a woman I didn’t know personally, but whose training of other women made a noticeable impact. Eventually God opened the door for me to be mentored by Margaret, and my own life and mentoring were forever changed.
Being mentored well inspired me to mentor others. I began asking my friends if they had ever experienced this kind of mentoring, but few had. Why aren’t we more intentional about supporting one another? Are we afraid of meddling? Women are longing for deep soul connection, but too often we miss the chance to nurture these relationships.
As I incorporated insights from Margaret and Leadership Design Group training, I found younger women surprisingly interested in spending time with me. You may be amazed to find younger women eager for a relationship with you, too.
Here are some suggestions to get you started.
1. Be intentional
Good mentoring doesn’t just happen. Margaret was definitely intentional when she met with me each month. For effective mentoring, commit to regular meetings and plan carefully to meet your mentoree’s needs.
2. Realize deep change originates from core beliefs
Although Margaret was not familiar with Leadership Design Group’s eight dimensions and the Circle of Life mentoring model, she definitely began at the core. We discussed the DNA of a Disciple of Jesus Christ – what basic beliefs define who I am, how I develop, and my responses to the world. This basic study centered on convictions, key disciplines, vital doctrines, and character qualities. Thoughts and actions develop from the foundation of these core beliefs.
3. Engage whole-life mentoring through all eight dimension of the Circle of Life
We are whole people, so every aspect of our life matters and affects the others. Margaret definitely delved into all of the eight dimensions with her penetrating questions, even without knowing the Circle of Life. When mentorees don’t talk about a particular dimension, I know to direct questions there, often leading my mentoree to discover important insights in that area. By addressing the eight dimensions individually, focus centers on one aspect at a time, keeping action steps more manageable.
4. Learn to tell your story in multiple ways
Margaret also taught me to share my story in numerous ways – explaining my life before knowing Christ, meeting Jesus, and how my life changed. I wrote a long account, and then condensed it down to 100 words, and eventually just six words.
Creatively telling our life stories can include poems, prayers, songs, and artwork. I even adapted my personal story based on Romans 5 and then Romans 8. Who knew you could even do that? And I discovered the amazing truth that when your story is ready, God uses it in powerful ways.
5. Plan transformational opportunities
Women often get together for fellowship with no meaningful outcome. How can we use our time more productively? I’ve learned to open my home for purposeful studies and find ladies eager to attend. For example, one summer a group met weekly to pray scripture based on the eight dimensions. Another group focused on growing in Christ and telling our stories. Recently we completed a four-week study on some Hebrew names of God, with a follow up Christmas brunch planned this August to celebrate “Immanuel – God with Us!” Creative opportunities abound if we are resourceful enough to look for them.
6. Use guidelines to focus your efforts
As I learned Margaret’s methods, I wanted a formula I could follow and teach, but she insisted that every person is unique and must be mentored differently. However, Margaret and I did create a diagram of five basic guidelines to direct my mentoring.
“Pray” is the most important step, because prayer is the heart of the ministry. Mentoring is God’s work, so we seek the Lord’s perspective on every aspect. Praying scripture helps me pray God’s thoughts rather than my own. Margaret reminds me often to devote even more time praying for a mentoree than being together.
“Listen Thoughtfully” provides the gift of feeling heard to my mentoree – a rare commodity these days. Often mentorees discover new insights by hearing themselves speak as we listen attentively.
“Inquire with Purpose” emphasizes the mentoring skill of asking questions, which leads mentorees into deeper reflection and guides mentors toward effective prayers. Inquiries based solely on curiosity seldom cause mentoree growth.
“Acknowledge God’s Current Work” brings perspective to the work God is already doing in a mentoree’s life. Sometimes pointing out evidence of progress brings encouragement and empowerment to a mentoree. She frequently needs help seeing these improvements, especially if she feels burdened, overwhelmed, or self-critical.
“Determine What God Wants Next” expands a vision for the work God desires for the mentoree’s life, directing the mentoree’s next steps and guiding the mentor’s prayers.
So, how will you mentor in your later years? Intentionally and creatively follow God’s lead, and the Lord will stimulate ideas that match your unique gifts. Before long your ladies will be mentoring each other – as you discover new ways to follow Titus 2:2 by training younger women.