I began taking steps to start the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry while at my home church, Saddleback Church, in Lake Forest, California, pastored by Rick Warren. "Feed My sheep" was God's call and challenge to me to go into full-time ministry. God quickly revealed that feeding was mentoring and the sheep were women in churches all over the world. In obedience to the call, I launched the ministry in my home in January 1996, and we quickly outgrew my living room. After receiving numerous requests from other churches wanting to know how to start this type of a ministry, I authored Woman to Woman Mentoring, How to Start, Grow, and Maintain A Mentoring Ministry DVD Leader Kit (LifeWay Press).
As I traveled throughout the United States and Canada, training and speaking on mentoring, I heard numerous requests for a Bible study depicting God's plan for mentors and mentees—"M&M'S," as we fondly call them. One morning as my husband completed his quiet time with the Lord, Dave asked me if I had ever considered writing Bible studies based on mentoring relationships in the Bible. He knew that many M&M'S enjoy doing a Bible study together, and Dave felt that one focused on what God says about mentoring relationships would help answer many of the M&M'S questions.
After much prayer—and my husband's prodding—I decided to look in the Bible to see how many mentoring relationships I could find. Before long, I had discovered 12. This was my confirmation to begin writing the "Face-to-Face" Bible study series (formerly known as Mentoring God's Way). My passion and life mission is to help one generation of believers connect to the next generation and pass down God's plan for the Christian life. I trust that the "Face-to-Face" Bible study series will help you do exactly that.
I love Dee Brestin's depiction of the informality of mentoring in The Friendships of Women Workbook: "It's not to be a dependent relationship, but simply a friendship as you spend time with a woman who is further down the road, at least in some areas of her Christian life. Win Couchman says, 'Mentoring works very nicely over a cup of coffee.'" For those who like more concrete and specific definitions, Roget's Super Thesaurus provides this explanation of the root word of mentoring. It defines mentor as a teacher, guide, coach, or advisor. Most dictionaries define the word mentor as a trusted and wise counselor. To combine Dee's and the reference definitions with the Christian perspective: a Christian mentor is a spiritually mature woman who is a trusted and wise teacher, guide, coach, counselor, advisor, and friend. Thus, a mentee is someone willing to be taught, guided, coached, advised, or counseled by a trusted, wise, and spiritually older woman friend. Christian mentoring is sharing with another woman the many wonders you have seen God do in your life, and assuring her that He will do them in her life, too, as you both discover God's purpose and plan for your lives together. Mentoring is not a hierarchy: it's always a two-way, mutually benefiting relationship where both participants learn from the other. Chris Tiegreen, author of my favorite devotional, The One-Year Walk with God Devotional, reminds us why it is always better to seek God's ways together:
The Bible gives us solid wisdom on which to base our lives. But while it is absolute, its interpretation can vary widely. That's where advice comes in. Never underestimate the body of Christ. He has crafted us to live in community. Wisdom usually comes not to godly individuals but to godly fellowships. Are you seeking direction? Know your heart, but do not trust it entirely. Measure it by biblical wisdom and the counsel of those who follow it well.
—June 27 devotional
The Bible also clearly instructs men to mentor men and women to mentor women. Titus 2:1-8 is the traditional "mentoring" passage:
You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. 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 train 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. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
1 Peter 5:2-4 (NLT) could be addressing mentors:
Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don't lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.
A mentor doesn't need to be an expert on the Bible or God, and she doesn't need to have a perfect life. If that were the case, none of us would qualify. A mentor simply needs to be willing to share her life experiences with another woman and be an example and role model of how a Christian woman does life. And how do we learn to be a godly role model? Answer: "Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith" (Hebrews 13:7 NLT).
Mentoring is not doing a ministry: It is being a godly woman who follows the Lord's command: "One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts" (Psalm 145:4).
There are five main sessions, comprised of five study days. Each day's study includes:
At the end of each session there is:
Following session five are Closing Materials:
I admire you for seeking out this study on your own and having the desire and discipline to work on it by yourself. I like to grow in the knowledge of the Lord and His Word and have found that my most relevant insights from God come when I seek Him by myself in a quiet place. Have fun on your own, and share with someone all you are learning.
1. A good way to stay consistent in your studying is to work a little each day during your quiet time in the morning or evening.
2. Tell someone you have started this study, and ask him or her to keep you accountable to complete it.
I hope the study of Face-to-Face with Elizabeth and Mary: Generation to Generation adds a new dimension to your M&M relationship. Here are a few study tips.
I love group studies because you get to hear other people's points of view and lasting friendships often develop. Your meetings should be fun, informative, relevant, and applicable to group members' lives. Enjoy yourself with your fellow sisters in Christ, but remember that joining a group study does mean commitment. So please attend your scheduled meetings, unless there is a real emergency. I suggest the following courtesies:
1. Put the meeting dates on your calendar.
2. Commit to doing your study and come prepared to discuss it. This honors the rest of the group, and you will get so much more from the sessions.
3. Ask questions—because, chnces are, someone else has the same question.
4. Participate in the discussion, but be cautious of dominating the conversation. For example, if you have answered several questions, even though you know all the answers, let someone else have a turn. Try to encourage a less outgoing member to share.
5. Listen when others speak and give each speaker your full attention.
6. Arrive on time.
7. Keep in confidence the information shared in the group.
Can You Relate?
During a mother-daughter chat with my daughter Michelle, I mentioned my desire to tell her sister, Kim, a vital truth relevant to Kim's spiritual growth as a new Christian. Michelle's response was wise, but hard for me to hear: "It's probably better that Kim hears this from someone else. You know that kids always listen more to advice from women other than their mom. We don't think Mom can be objective when it comes to us."
Oh, did these words sting! I knew this is true because I had a similar reaction to my mom's advice, and it made her so mad. I would come home with some great revelation my friend's mom had said, and my mom would admonish me: "I said the same thing to you!"
Often, we feel our moms are prejudiced and biased when it comes to us. Or we fear they have their own agenda and motives, so we seek out someone whom we feel will give us uncensored advice and answers to our questions.
Now I get it! My constant prayer is for my daughters to seek out a "spiritual mom" to advise them when I'm not physically near, or inexperienced in the area of concern, or too close to the situation to be objective. I pray the spiritual mom whom they choose will be a godly woman: someone wise and compassionate who will guide my daughters in the path of righteousness. Mary found such a spiritual mother in Elizabeth.
The story of Elizabeth and Mary is a beautiful example of a "spiritual mothering" mentoring relationship. Let's look at how their story might apply to our relationships today.
We see God's plan for Elizabeth and Mary to be together during this eventful time for them. Many times mentors and mentees, and/ or friends and family, gravitate towards each other when something similar happens in their lives. Mentoring is nothing more than sharing with another woman those "been-there-done-that" experiences in life, where God helped you through, and He will help her too!
In the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, we use intercessory prayer to match women into M&M relationships. M&M'S often find they have things in common that only God knew. Discovering these commonalities confirms to them that God truly was instrumental in bringing their lives together in a mentoring relationship, just as He intervened to bring Elizabeth and Mary together.
I personally know the joy of God intervening to bring me together with a young woman looking for a mentor. Kristen was 25 years younger than me, and still living at home with Mom and Dad, when she visited a young women's Bible study group that my daughter, Shannon, led in our home. Several weeks after receiving the "feed My sheep" call that I mentioned in the welcome on page 6, Shannon's group asked me to join them. I thought these young women, who were hungry to learn about the Lord, must be the "sheep" God wanted fed, so I gladly accepted their invitation to be the group mentor.
When Kristen introduced herself to the group, she said she was home for summer break from a Christian college and a summer assignment was to find a mentor. This was the first time Kristen and I had ever met, but she looked straight at me and asked me if I would be her mentor.
I sensed Kristen was another "sheep" God wanted me to "feed," so I agreed to mentor her over the summer. It was becoming clear to me that feeding meant mentoring. My experience mentoring Kristen helped me launch the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church.
Kristen was at a crossroads in her Christian life, trying to balance a boyfriend, school, ministry, work, friends, and family. She wanted to feel safe and secure in working through issues with a woman who would give her a godly perspective without having a personal stake in the outcome. I knew she didn't need me to be her mom. Kristen had a wonderful mom, but she was asking me to be her spiritual mom. We decided that my role in her life would be:
Susan Hunt says in her book Spiritual Mothering: "No matter how solid our relationships are with our biological daughters, their lives will be richer if they are also nurtured by other women... our biological connection sometimes blurs our vision."