Living Life Together: Taking the First Steps (part 1)

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There are many women who are thirsty for an authentic, older-to-younger relationship to help them navigate life. Will you be the answer to someone’s prayer for a mentoring friendship?

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 2:3-5

When it comes to mentoring, a lot of people feel overwhelmed. Should you be part of a formal program or just meet on your own? Should you meet on a weekly basis and dive right into an exegetical Bible study?

It doesn’t have to be that hard! Mentoring is simply sharing your life experiences and perspective with younger people, learning from older women, and living life together.

Laying the Groundwork

Begin by praying about who the Lord would have you meet with, then be open to wait and follow His timing. Draw a wide circle around women you know including acquaintances. Who are older women whose lives are worthy of emulating? Who are younger women that are receptive to a wise, more experienced woman?

Once you sense God’s leading to the right woman, then take time to get to know each other by going out for coffee or lunch, walking together, or even inviting her into your home. It doesn’t have to be a discipleship relationship right off the bat. Instead, think of it as forming a new friendship.

If getting together on your own is intimidating, you could get to know someone in a Bible study or other group at your church. Initiate a conversation, and as you talk, seek to show compassion and love for where that woman is right now. Come alongside someone who needs help and encouragement. Offer to pray for them. Most of all, begin the relationship by showing genuine care and concern for the other person. Simple ways to cultivate a friendship may include:

-- Inviting her to a Bible study that you’re either leading or attending.

-- Texting her to let her know you’re thinking of her, asking if she has any prayer requests.

-- Connecting with other women through your kids (think playdates, sports, etc.). This can help you to form genuine relationships through everyday life.

Setting Up Parameters

Before you even start a mentoring connection, consider whether it should incorporate some parameters. Not every type of relationship needs this structure, but if yours is a more formal one, it can help things go smoothly further down the road.

As you’re praying about who to approach, also pray about what the relationship should look like. Consider doing the following things as you develop the friendship:

-- Set a time frame for how long to meet together. For example, you could meet weekly for three months or monthly for six, then re-evaluate. Some relationships work best when there’s no time frame established and meetings happen as needs arise. Flexibility in an informal mentoring friendship is highly valued by women with busy lifestyles.

-- Establish boundaries. Don’t make yourself available 24/7. Have set times when you are not available unless it’s an emergency, especially during your own family times. Encourage your friend to go to God in prayer first before calling or texting you.

-- Make sure you include time in the Word and in prayer in all your meetings, as well as time to catch up and talk.

Expectations and Mistakes to Avoid

It’s also important that once you start meeting together, you discuss your expectations of the relationship. What areas of life does your friend want help with? Where is a safe and comfortable place to meet? What is she hoping for through this relationship? Make sure you’re both in agreement with the expectations. Being on the same page can lead to further and greater growth as you journey through life together.

If you’re taking the lead role, it’s important for your friend to know that you’re not there to be her mom or play the role of a professional counselor. You’re there to come alongside her and encourage her in her walk with the Lord and point her to biblical truth.

No matter what other parameters you set up, make sure she knows that what she shares will be held in confidence and that she has the freedom to be real and transparent.

Respect each other’s privacy regarding things you would rather not share or give specific details about. Appreciate each other’s generational differences as well as the things you share in common.

Mistakes to avoid:

-- Setting up strict roles of teacher and learner.

-- Being inflexible or insisting on too much structure.

-- An unwillingness to share out of your failures as well as victories.

-- Talking without genuine listening or asking thought-provoking questions.

-- Offering too much advice before gaining trust in the relationship.

-- Trying to solve someone’s problems.

-- Striving to make the mentee into a version of yourself.

Living life together is an adventure that reaps rich rewards. This week, start praying and ask God to direct you to another woman whose heart and life can be linked with yours for His glory. There are many women who are thirsty for an authentic, older-to-younger relationship to help them navigate life. Will you be the answer to someone’s prayer for a mentoring friendship?

By Mindy Kroesche

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