This past weekend I had a request to write a post about how a young wife can find a Biblical mentor in real life. It is a fantastic question, and something I wish I knew to do earlier on in my marriage! We are about to leave on vacation tomorrow, but I just had to get this last post out before leaving for a week.
I remember I had one woman I looked up to in college that was living a beautiful, godly life, one I definitely wanted to emulate. Unfortunately, I wasn’t smart enough or pushy enough to ask her if she would be willing to take me under her wing and guide me along in my choices. She even tried herself to set me up with another mentor that she thought I would love, but I carelessly threw away the opportunity by procrastinating and never getting in touch with the other woman myself. It was something I always set on the back burner, and never took seriously.
One may ask why do we have mentors? Why are they actually needed? One of the main reasons why we need mentors in our life is to have someone wise and important to us in order to bounce ideas off of, to ask questions to, and to ask for direction when we’re faced with a difficult or confusing situation. It is not good to allow ourselves to be an island, there is even Scripture condemning various aspects of isolating yourself, or going about battle plans (life plans) without having several counselors in order to ensure your success. We are not supposed to do life successfully without people to reach out to, with no one to remain accountable to, and no one to subtly keep us in check when we’re straying off course.
We desperately need mentors in our life so that we are continuing to grow in spiritual maturity. Part of that is having someone who stops you when they see you are doing something counter to achieving your goal of spiritual growth.
I’ve found that not having at least one mentor that you are transparent with is a very dangerous situation to be in. Personally, there was a time when I got myself into so much trouble that could have been completely prevented had I been confiding in a mentor and allowing that kind of interjection in my life. I even realized it when I was paying the consequences of making a truly idiotic decision, and it was right then, at about 25 years old, that I decided I needed to be far more intentional about bringing in good women into my life that could help me avoid awful pitfalls from acting without biblical mentorship. Your goal is spiritual growth, keep that in mind and avoid engaging in activities that reek of immaturity.
Can your husband be your spiritual mentor?
LOL oh how I wish things were so simple. The short answer? No. Long answer? Yes and no. Your husband is for sure, a wealth of resources in offering you advice and spiritual leadership, covering you and offering protection, as well as calling out your sin and what you may be doing wrongly to yourself or others. He has spiritual authority over you, and deserves your respect for his thoughts and advice on what you should be doing. I’m lucky in that my husband is even capable of teaching me his life skills of how to deal with people, so in this one way, of course he can be considered a kind of mentor. But as far as female mentorship, your husband is not a woman, he is not a feminine being that understands a female experience, there are many things he cannot advise you on simply because he is not an older woman in a more progressed life stage than you. Can he take an educated guess and probably do pretty well? Of course, but it’s my opinion that it would put undue strain and pressure on him to try to advise you in the way a older, wiser, female mentor would be easily able to do. Why ask him to fill a role that another woman is biblically admonished to do for younger wives?
There have been many times that one of my mentors has subtly challenged me to be a better wife by encouraging me, or to look at a circumstance differently by telling me her perspective on the matter, or to appreciate what I had rather than feel sorry for myself when I was upset over something trivial. It’s been incredible to be able to have wise women who are trustworthy enough to be so transparent with. They’ve done life with me, prayed with me over very personal issues – some regarding social media at times when I was being attacked. They’ve challenged me with this blog, with the people I choose to support or the questions I choose to answer here; there has even been an instance when one has been able to help me see something I was doing wrong – when I was allowing myself (and the blog) to be taken advantage of in her opinion. One recently suggested that I don’t allow negative comments at all, because she was angry on my behalf that someone from our real life would feel emboldened by anonymity to leave a hurtful comment criticizing my husband and our marriage. If I didn’t have these women in my life, and truly in my life as far as knowing what I’m up to on the internet, I would have more incentive to sin or act without spiritual maturity simply because of having no real life accountability to keep me in check.
And for women who use social media, accountability seems to be something that is largely missing. It has become a strange phenomenon for women in particular (though men do, too) to be unduly harsh and hyper-critical when attacking someone online under the guise of anonymity. They can be the sweetest, most normal person to your face in real life, however, without feeling an accountability to others and to God, they can somehow let out their true feelings about you in a verbal lashing online. The only good thing that comes from something like that is you now know what they’ve truly thought of you all along. But the case remains, even online, we all need accountability, having at least one mentor that you spill the beans to meets that spiritual need.
So… How do you find a mentor?
1) Be picky – When picking out a personal mentor whom you’ll confide in and let into your life, there is very good reason to be extremely picky. For one, you should not value the opinion of just anyone, if you can tell someone has an impure heart or motivations toward you, if they judge you on appearance alone or display a two-faced demeanor, their opinion should matter very little, no matter how old or “wise” they appear (because they do not have a pure heart). Just because someone is your elder does not mean they are spiritually mature. Be picky in who you allow to criticize or advise you, not everyone (or even most people) understand you, care about you enough, or know you well enough in order to give you the advice you truly need.
2) Don’t be picky – while I just pointed out that not everyone should be considered a good spiritual mentor, at the same time, you don’t want to be too picky to where you are left with no one at all to mentor you. To some degree, any older woman that is in a progressed life stage than you (or more mature) may be able to offer you great advice on some things, maybe not all things, or as well as a true mentor would be able to, but definitely some things that you may not yet understand. Do not only look for someone who is your perfect idea of your mentor while excluding everyone else who is capable of giving out tidbits of truth. I have found that acquiring many different mentors in my life has been by far the best thing because they have unique life experiences. One in particular is in her 80’s, so incredibly wonderful and vastly spiritually mature due to her diligence in the Word and her sheer age. She is the grandmother of my friend. She has personally helped me to grow beyond my flaws and imperfections – things she herself said she used to have that were unique, we are the same exact personality, and felt compelled to help me grow in personally using her life experience to guide me along. This kind of experience is invaluable to a young wife looking to grow more spiritually mature.
3) Look for someone who is living the life you would want to be living. For a real intense mentorship, it is crucial that you only pick someone that you admire in many ways, someone who’s life you’d like to have someday. A godly woman who is self-controlled, manages herself well, manages her children and her household exceptionally, and above-all, treats her husband like the spiritual leader of the family. She must exhibit having a firm grasp on displaying the fruit of the spirit, not acting rashly or immaturely, not behaving in ways that go against godly conduct. Not being disrespectful to men – strangers or men in her life – is a big thing to watch out for. I once thought a woman seemed like a worthy role model, completely had her life together, older and from what I could tell, wiser, that is until I saw her tell another man to “**** off!”
Basically, you need to be very careful who you look up to, because you will find yourself repeating their attitude and behavior unconsciously if you aren’t careful.
4) Get yourself out there! I would never have met any of these women if I stayed shy and insecure in myself like I used to be (I truly was!). It takes guts to reach out to others, to let them into your life that close so that they can see and know your personal flaws – but there is no better way to live than to let others do life with you and help you overcome your struggles! It has been so refreshing to be loved for myself, flaws and all, to have women who love me wholly, who call me to do better, and who are also friends who pray for me in these things.
Now I’ve had the honor and great pleasure to experience this from the other side – from being a mentor to younger women, and it always astonishes me how hard it is for them to get over that hump to really pursue mentorship for themselves. They want it so bad, know they need it in their life, but it is hard to take that final step of making it a reality.
5) Be intentionally growing in the Word yourself. You should be reading God’s word daily, seeking out His advice each morning or night, going to Bible studies with other women and female leaders where you can find future mentors. You cannot expect to have wisdom, maturity, or a great mentorship just fall into your lap from the sky, you need to be intentionally growing on your own as well.
Some key points I learned from our sermon last Sunday regarding discipleship:
- You should be persistant in your faithfulness. This means that you always obey, always do what is right, whether in the presence or absence of a spiritual leader (your husband) or mentor. This means that you feel accountability for your actions done in secret, that you are obeying all the little tugs of the Holy Spirit, continuing to travel in a direction God wants you to go in, and stopping once you feel it is time to stop or turn the other way. This means that you are not anonymous, you represent Christ to the world because when you speak, you are one of His representatives.
- You should be making intentional effort to obey and do what is right. We are called to “work out our own salvation” in Philippians, which means to grow ever deeper in spiritual maturity. Part of this intentional effort is to go where there are women’s Bible studies, seek out women to mentor you or pray with you.
- You should have a radical reliance on Christ to finish the work He started in you. Part of working out our salvation in fear and trembling is allowing the Holy Spirit to convict and grow you – relying on Him to do this because He is faithful. If you desire spiritual growth at all, you need to realize that is something God has given you as a gift. We are constantly referred to as gardens in the Bible, with God being the Gardener. Different people may water us, tend to us and help us along in our growth, but only God causes the growth to occur by working in and through us.
- You should be seeing a Christ-like Transformation in yourself. You need to be reflecting the attitude and character of Christ. “Do everything without grumbling and arguing so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God, faultless in a crooked and perverted generation….” It was ironic that when Christianity was first starting, the people of the movement were mocked and called “Christians” which literally meant “little Christs.” People loved to mock them for representing someone so good, so perfect, and yet so far from what they could ever actually achieve. Something that was meant to deride and mock these first Christ followers, was actually a true compliment and turned out to be a good thing. We should be “little Christs,” we should look like Him, reflect Him in our attitude.
- People should be able to see an obvious difference. The end of the former mentioned verse continues like this “… so that you shine like stars in a world of darkness.” We should be unmistakably bright, brilliant, shining out from others like stars in the night sky. Unmissable, unmistakable. A holy race, a chosen people, a royal nation. But we also shouldn’t look at the darkness with disgust or disdain… we must look at it with compassion because we used to be that.
- Ending thoughts: Your spiritual transformation is more reflected in what you do secretly on Monday-Saturday, than what you do on Sunday. You can’t grow yourself, trying to be like Jesus without letting Him guide you is missing the point.