“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” – Titus 2:3-5
My two-year-old stands at the window clapping his hands as she climbs from her car. I can see the tearstains on her cheeks from here, but he sees only a visitor for the afternoon. He has high hopes that she might sit on the floor and play cars with him.
She comes to the door, and I hug her hard. I don’t know why she sent the emergency text at eleven o’clock last night, but I know she needs to talk. She’s not the type to ask to talk unless there’s an issue.
We’ve been walking this road together for almost seven years now. It started when I stepped out of my comfort zone to lead a high school girls’ Bible study. I had high hopes of making a mark on younger women’s lives through an in-depth study of King David’s life. The girls mostly wanted to talk about boys, eat potato chips, and scream somewhat inappropriate phrases in the church basement.
When they graduated, I wondered if our discipleship made any impact whatsoever.
Despite our journey through the tumultuous teen years, we stuck together. Mostly, I stuck with them. I sent weekly messages to each of the thirteen girls and invited them to my house during college breaks. They walked with me through my initiation to motherhood, and I walked with them through the initiation to adulthood.
It was mostly the longevity of knowing I wasn’t going anywhere that led them to text and ask for crisis intervention when things got rough. We walked through breakups, the loss of virginity, career decisions, unexpected pregnancies, loss of parents, sexual assaults, drug and alcohol abuse, and every issue facing young women today.
I didn’t know what this precious young woman would share while we played with my son’s cars that blustery Tuesday morning, but I knew our time together would be full of purpose.
She opened up about a long struggle with hidden sin, her desire to find freedom, and the shame that threatened to strip her of her identity as a child of the Most High God. She cried hard. I asked gentle questions and helped her get it all out. We prayed. And she left with a burden lifted and a promised source of accountability.
Throughout the years, I’ve mentored dozens of younger women. Most of them started as teens in the youth group. They’ve grown to young women with husbands, children, and issues just a few years behind my own issues. We’re doing life together, and the depth of our relationships creates space to air even the heaviest burdens. Next to being a wife and a mother, Christian mentoring is among the most purposeful work I do. The opportunity to invest in younger lives is a gift and an honor.
The beauty of mentoring is that it’s a calling for every woman.
A teen can mentor a younger girl. A twenty-something can mentor a group of teens. A young mom can mentor a younger mom, and the cycle continues. This is how God intended women to invest in other women. Regardless of where you’re at in life, there is a younger woman in your sphere of influence who would be blessed by your investment in her life. She might be a neighbor, a niece, a friend’s daughter, a coworker, or your hair dresser. Let’s explore five reasons younger women need mentors:
1. They need us to model an honest relationship with God
When I consider where I learned to walk with God, the godly example of older believers set a precedent for me. My parents taught me to pray. Mrs. Byers, my eighth grade Sunday school teacher taught me to read the Bible with expectation. Mr. Jim taught me to pursue my relationship with God every day of my life. Older women in the church Bible study taught me to dig into Scripture and find meaning for myself.
Younger believers don’t need to see us modeling a perfect relationship with God. They simply need to see what it looks like when a woman seeks God and wants to grow in his love. I’m honest with my younger friends about my struggles, dry seasons, and imperfect relationship with God. We openly discuss the difficulties of pursuing the relationship. Because I have a few more years under my belt, I’m able to offer sound guidance for their journeys.
2. They need to see us model honest relationships with others
Just as younger women need to see older women walking through life’s highs and lows with God, they need to see us live honestly with others. Many of my greatest moments of impact have been through sharing my struggles with the women I mentor. This doesn’t mean I air all my dirty laundry or find it necessary to make a total life confession to every woman; however, it does mean that I share pieces of my broken past and present when my experiences offer insight. When I’m honest about the pain of broken friendships in my own life, the struggles of adjusting to married life, and the hard parts about being a mom, I offer time-tested insight to younger women.
3. They need a safe place to ask questions
I’ve answered pretty much every question in the book. From the young bride, nervously anticipating her wedding night, to the first-time mom who wants to know what actually happens in the delivery room, I’m so thankful I can be a safe source of godly insight. When my daughter reaches the point of questioning her faith, sexuality, and romantic life, I want her to have a safe place to ask every question under the sun. Whether it’s her mom or another godly woman, I pray she has a Christ-centered source of information. Young women are desperate for answers, and they’re likely to turn to the vulgarity of online searching or the inexperience of peers if they don’t have an older mentor. It’s a blessing to be a source of information and wisdom in the lives of younger women.
4. They need a safe place to turn in crisis
Where does a young woman turn when she realizes she’s expecting her first child to a man she’s been dating for less than two months? Where does she go when she discovers her parents are getting a divorce or her best friend is diagnosed with cancer? She needs a place to turn where she’ll receive comfort that’s aligned with God’s truth. When we invest in the everyday lives of younger women, we build the foundation for being the source of truth when crisis strikes. The young women I mentor know they can turn to me without the fear of being judged when they blow it big time, when they’ve lost all hope in life, and when their hearts are broken. It’s a gift that they trust me in their hardest moments.
5. They need someone to nudge them back toward truth
The ultimate role of a mentor is to nudge younger women toward the relentless love of Christ. Whether they’re making career choices, relational decisions, or simply trying to life a purpose-filled life, young women need older women to remind them to keep Christ at the center. The gentle nudges from older women have blessed me by reminding me of my eternal purpose in this life: to love God and love others. We all lose perspective at times. A mentor is a sound source of encouragement and perspective.
Wherever life finds you today, my prayer is that you’ll take the first step and reach out to a younger woman in your life. She might seem independent and carefree, but odds are, she could use someone to sincerely invest in her life. It won’t always be easy, but you’ll both be blessed in the process.