Why This Friday is "Good"

The Importance of Mentors

Posted by on April 14, 2021 in In my own words | Comments Off on The Importance of Mentors

This morning, I woke up early thinking about two friends of mine, one who is younger than me, one older. I love both of them dearly and I haven’t lived close to either of them for over a decade. When we talk, it is as if no time has passed. But too much time HAS passed since our last conversations.

I have been a mentor to many girls and women in my life. It was a natural result of being a youth leader for many years when my husband was a youth pastor and then serving primarily adults for the past fourteen years But I have also been mentored by many, not because it was a formal mentor relationship, but because I learned from an early age to deliberately seek out women who would faithfully point me to Jesus.

A few years ago, I attended a workshop at a women’s conference on the topic of mentoring, specifically the challenges of the older generation reaching out to the younger and the younger generation seeking the wisdom of the older. As different women talked about the divide they felt between themselves and others, I was struck by how complicated we have made this whole mentoring thing. In many cases, mentoring has been turned into a program and women attempt to “match” themselves with a mentor. There is an inevitable disappointment when this relationship doesn’t meet expectations.

Mentoring in scripture is actually a command. In Titus 2:3 it says, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior… They are to teach what is good.” And Proverbs  31:26 says, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Older women are to teach the younger, but they’re not supposed to teach their own theories or opinions. Rather they are to teach wisdom and kindness. This can only happen if women are seeking to learn from the ultimate source of wisdom and kindness, Jesus himself!

We’re all on a journey, so we are all learning things at different times and in different ways. It’s one of the reasons I have sought to invite many women to speak into my life. Some are further along on this journey and I glean from their wisdom. Others are at the same place as me and we struggle together to spur one another on. And some are a little further behind and my role looks more like instructing and guiding. But all of these relationships must be viewed through a lens of humility. I am NEVER the authority in mentoring relationships. My role is simply to point to Jesus. If we miss this, we make mentoring about what we have to pass on and about how great we are. (It’s important here to make a differentiation between mentoring and counseling or work relationships. Mentoring is not about authority, but counseling/work relationships ARE. Understanding these differences is crucial for healthy and successful relationships).

Since I don’t believe that mentoring is a program, but rather a fluid, organic relationship, it changes all of the time. When my kids were infants and toddlers, my main source of mentorship was through MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) programs. When they were in public school, I pursued friendships with other Moms. Now that we homeschool, my co-op friends are a huge part of my life. Through all of these different seasons, I have had older saints in my church who have pointed me to Jesus through their own pursuit of him and I have had younger women who I have been able to pour into, also pointing them to Jesus.

Do you have those friends in your life who love the Word of God and are passionate about loving Jesus more? Every time you talk together, you inevitably talk about what you are reading in scripture and about what the Lord is doing in your life. You can’t help it, because the more you fall in love with Jesus, the more it will just bubble over. And when others are on that same path, it is a beautiful thing! But you can’t force these types of relationships. You can’t expect others to be as excited as you. You must simply keep pursuing truth and asking the Lord to surround you with others who feel the same. My experience is that He LOVES to answer this prayer! When I look back over my life, I am overwhelmed as I consider the many women who have lovingly poured into me and the many whom I have been able to lovingly pour into.

It changes. The relationships I had when my husband and I first started out in ministry are still precious to me, but I haven’t lived close to these women for seventeen years! Proximity is a huge part of mentoring. And that’s okay. If you lose touch with someone who was a crucial part of your growth in life, don’t feel guilty. God used them in your life for that season. He will continue to bless them for their faithfulness whether or not you are in close relationship.

And sometimes you will pour a great deal of time and energy into others only to have them turn their backs on you. This has happened countless times in my life and it has been painful every time. BUT what the Lord is faithfully teaching me is that if I really believe that mentoring is not about me, then it’s okay if others reject me. If I have pointed them to Jesus and I have encouraged them to pursue the truth of the Word of God, then I can entrust them to the Lord and I must keep trusting in Christ myself.

Mentoring is a risk in that sense, but it is one worth taking. Because the Lord will bless our faithfulness.

Now I need to go, because I need to reach out to my two friends I woke up thinking about.

Pour into others with the wisdom and kindness you have received from Jesus. And let others who are drinking from that same well pour into you!

 

Stay in Your Lane

Posted by on April 09, 2021 in Celebrate More, Compare Less | Comments Off on Stay in Your Lane

Recently I watched an interview between the lovely Emily P. Freeman and the equally delightful Annie F. Downs. I have been reading and listening to posts from Emily since the very beginning of my blogging days and to know Emily is to know Annie. I am always inspired when I hear their words.

This time was no exception.

In the course of the interview, Annie said something truly beautiful that is sticking with me. She said that it’s important to stay in your lane, to know what your mission in life is and then to live out of that. Then she said this- staying in your lane allows you to cheer for others who are staying in theirs. You don’t have to feel threatened by others who are living out their purpose. Knowing your mission means you can celebrate the success of others. While their lane might look similar to yours, we ALL have our own lanes. Our circle of influence is unique to us. No one else can claim our combination of strengths and giftings. This frees us to live faithfully to our mission and to be genuinely happy when others are living faithful to theirs.

This concept is so beautiful to me, because I have watched what jealousy does to working relationships. I have observed the results of someone feeling threatened and then feeling a need to minimize or diminish another’s giftings and abilities. It’s so ugly which makes the idea of celebrating others even more beautiful.

I have heard the concept of “stay in your lane” many times in my life, but this added piece of it, to celebrate others along the way, excites me. When others are critical of me, but I know I am staying in my lane, I can let go of trying to live up to their expectations. After all, they are not the ones I am trying to please. Galatians 1:10- Am I now trying to win the approval of men or of God or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. When others celebrate my success (defined as staying in my lane!), then I can know that they too are living faithful to their calling.

So stay in your lane and celebrate those who are staying in theirs!

We Must Obey God

Posted by on April 06, 2021 in Devotional | Comments Off on We Must Obey God

We’re reading through the Book of Acts in our family Bible reading time and today we read a fantastic passage in Acts 5. Go ahead and read verses 17 to 42. It’s worth reading!

The religious leaders of the day were angry at the disciples who they believed were spreading lies and so they imprisoned them to get them to stop talking. God miraculously “released” them from prison- the guards didn’t even know that they were guarding an empty cell! Of course, the disciples went right back to preaching in the temple. So the high priest goes to them and basically says, “Didn’t I tell you to stop talking about this?!!” And Peter replies in verse 29, “We must obey God rather than man.”

I love this response. It’s not one that I believe you can use flippantly to give yourself permission to do whatever you want. But I do believe that there are times when “men” will expect you to act a certain way or do things the way they want you to, yet you know that what they are asking is contrary to what God requires of you. These times are incredibly hard, because people have a tendency to get mean and threatening when they don’t like what you are doing. But when you KNOW that you have sought the Lord’s will and you are convinced that He leading you in a certain way (that is not contrary to scripture!), then you have to obey God, not man.

And so the disciples had to keep telling people about Jesus.

The passage goes on to give an amazingly wise and logical discussion between Gamaliel, an honored teacher of the law, and the rest of the religious leaders. He tells them about others who had led a group of people “astray” and their rebellions came to nothing. They could rest assured that if the disciples were wrong, they would not last. But if they were truly from God, then nothing the leaders could do would be able to stop them.

My logic loving kids were thrilled with this discourse. How joyous it is to read this passage thousands of years later and know that these disciples were speaking the truth. Their “rebellion” has lasted, it has grown, it has spread. And here we are today, the recipients of the blessing of their faithfulness.

Man can’t stop God. It’s not possible.

I know what side I want to be on.

Obey God, not man!

 

Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken

Posted by on April 03, 2021 in Lent 2021 | Comments Off on Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken

The other day, I introduced my littles to one of my all time favorite movies- “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken“. It’s based on a true story of a girl who pushes through adversity to tenaciously pursue her dream. Her determination to dive on horses in a thrill show during the Great Depression is inspiring and captivating.

This is my last post in my daily Lent writing and there are a couple of things I remembered and discovered through this time. I remembered how much I love writing and how considering topics I want to write about keeps me inspired and intentional. I remembered that God uses my words to be an encouragement to others. And I remembered that I enjoy being vulnerable in this way and inviting others to share in the daily stuff of life.

I discovered that my heart can’t be broken beyond repair. There’s a line in the song “Move” by MercyMe that says, “I just might bend, but I won’t break.” In retrospect, where I thought I was breaking was actually bending. As I have written these posts, I have felt my heart returning to hope. Writing is helping me to move past hurts, to heal, to be restored and redeemed.

My husband told me that he thinks I need to write for me, not worrying about anyone reading my words, but just writing what the Lord lays on my heart to write. That’s what this series of posts has been and I am grateful for it. I’m thankful for those of you who have joined me along the way and I know there are some of you who have read every word! Thank you.

I will not continue to write every day, but I will be writing more frequently than I had been before Lent started. I hope that when people think of me, they will think of words like “tenacious” and “determined”, not “broken” and “hurting”. I want to be a person who continues to pursue dreams no matter what adversity comes my way.

And I want to set an example for my kids who are watching me every day. Brighter days are ahead.

Wild hearts can’t be broken!

 

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