By Trena McDougal
Mentoring Can Be Fun
“Women!” she frowned throwing her hands in the air. “I tried to have a ladies group before but it was a disaster. I’m not sure I want to go there again.”
“Well Deb, I’ll lead it or I will support you and help you lead it.”
Debbie, a pastor’s wife, looked as if I have just tied her to a bungee cord and pushed her over the side of a bridge. Up to now, she had pretty much worked with the children in the church—a far safer environment for her. I had just arrived from Lynnwood,Washington where I had served as Pastor of Women’s Ministries at Christ the Rock Fellowship for a few years. Pastor Debbie and I were sitting at my kitchen table getting acquainted. After 45 years of ministry traveling the world, ministering to women, and seeing more than a million souls receive Jesus and more physical miracles than I can count, I was trying to retire—take it a little easier. When I learned, however, that my new church home had no women’s ministry at all, the Spirit within me began to churn. I could see I had at least one more assignment.
Mentoring can be fun. The scriptures teach us to commit what we have learned to faithful men (women) who will able to teach others what you have imparted to them (2 Timothy 2:2). We read that the older women should teach the younger women to love their husbands, rear godly children and to lead quite and peaceable lives in the Lord (Titus 2:4). But what does that really mean in today’s world?
The truths of Scripture are not aging. They bring correction, direction and work just as well as they did hundreds of year ago. But this is not you grandmother’s world. Women today face challenges that your grandmother never dreamed of. That is why mentoring is so critical if the younger women are to survive the onslaught of media influence, workplace experiences and the liberal thinking of today. As pastor’s wives, women in ministry and any woman who cares about the next generation, we must mentor those whom the Lord gives us.
Mentoring? What is it? As a child I often found myself holding the light on a project my dad was working on. “Shine the light right here,” he scolded. “If you don’t shine the beam right where I need it, I can’t see how to tighten that screw.” Mentoring is exactly that—shining the Light on a project the Heavenly Father is working on until He can make the necessary adjustments. We all mentor in one way or another, whether we shrink back from the mission we have been called to, or somehow find the courage to try.
Just as Pastor Debbie did, we must come to grips with this fact: If I don’t mentor the women in my sphere of influence, who will? Will it be the latest television sit-com, the View or the misguided woman next door? Once you have settled that issue, the next question might be “How shall I begin?”
- Start by asking the Lord to give you a heart for your women. Rather than seeing them as competition, try to be sensitive to the passion that drives them.
- Begin to identify the gift(s) of God in each one. While skills can be learned, it is our natural giftings that, in the long run, may produce the most effective ministry in the body of Christ.
- Pray for wisdom as to how to encourage the giftings you see. Seek the Lord as to what, where and how the Holy Spirit is at work in each life, and add your support to that. Often we see a woman in terms of how she can help us fulfill our dreams, and it may well be she is God’s provision for you, but she will function best in the area where her passion lies.
- As each one responds provide an opportunity and a safe place for them to begin to develop and practice their giftings. Be open and allow creativity. Who knows what new and beautiful thing the Lord might have in mind.
- Encourage, teach, train, both by word and example, and allow the Holy Spirit to ‘tweak’ areas that need adjusting. Like children, they will need guidance—perhaps a suggestion, or try introducing another way of approaching things. Help them to see that there might be many acceptable ways to accomplish the thing God wants.
- Where possible, let them learn their lessons, but be there for them. Give them room to grow, experience and fail, and remember your love (and God’s) makes it possible for them to face themselves and change.
- Leave something for the Holy Spirit to do. Our tendency is to jump in with both feet, feeling we have it all figured out. When it comes to mentoring, one size does not fit all. Each woman is different. Her background is different; her emotions are uniquely hers; her understanding of spiritual, as well as natural things, are based on the journey she has been on since birth. What brought life to one woman may not produce the desired result in another. She may need a fresh Word–a fresh set of instructions from the Holy Spirit–a solution that fits her.
Allow me to share a true story with you. While I was ministering to women in the Philippines, I was asking God to raise up leadership for the Christian Women’s organization I represented. As I shared in an evening service at a retreat, I was drawn by the Spirit to a woman who kept getting up, leaving the service and smoking just beyond the open flaps on the structure we were meeting in. I knew she was the founder and CEO of Hewlitt Packard in Manila. Wouldn’t she make a great leader to mentor the women of this nation? Even though she was a new Christian, just six months old in the Lord, I asked the Lord to give her to me as a leader. I could see I had a lot of praying and mentoring ahead of me if she were to become a “beam of light’ holder for the precious Christian women of thePhilippines.
God did touch her profoundly at that retreat, and her vices began to fall off as she sought the Lord and remained under a good shepherd. I asked for, and received, her help in the business world when we needed to make arrangements for conferences. She was a good facilitator, but above all she was a worshiper, and I learned many things from her as I observed her humility before the Lord. Bible studies, held during employees’ lunch hour, were springing up in office buildings as revival spread throughout the nation. Rina was one of the first to open Hewlitt Packard’s office to what God was doing.
More and more she became involved in what we were trying to accomplish for women there, and when I was asked to establish a National Board to lead the Christian Women’s organization, I knew she was God’s choice for Vice President. She served under my leadership for a year. When I left the Philippines, she became the National President and was far more effective as such than I could have ever been.
It all began with seeing the giftings of God in her and mentoring–shining the light on God’s project—until she was strong enough to lead a nation of women. Didn’t I tell you mentoring can be fun? Who knows who is sitting in your pews or moving in your sphere of influence just waiting for you to act? Whether you pastor a small church–struggling to see it grow–or minister internationally, God has called us all to mentor those He gives us. Oh yes, I almost forgot. Pastor Debbie is preaching a lot in the main services now, and we have about fifty or more women for our annual Christmas tea. The women are rising up to lead, standing shoulder to shoulder with their men, both in the church and in their communities.