Shortly after completing one of my college degrees, I moved to New Mexico to work as a wrangler (essentially a cowgirl) for a summer. When I returned home to Michigan that fall, my family was attending a new church. I didn’t know anyone, and there weren’t many young women my age. My work schedule didn’t allow for me to attend the women’s Bible study, and I was left feeling rather alone.
One day the pastor’s wife invited me to join a small study she did after the first service at church. Even though I was only 21, she invited me to sit with her and two or three other ladies as we learned about the Lord together. Even today, I consider these women to be my spiritual mentors.
As young women, we often think we can’t identify with women older than us—women who are married, have children or are the same age as our grandmothers! But while our high school and college-age peers are a great source of encouragement, the insight of older women can be far more helpful to those of us just beginning to strike out on our own.
The Apostle Paul encouraged spiritual mentorship. In his letter to Titus, he wrote: “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live… Then they can urge 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.” (Titus 2:3-4) Paul encouraged older men to mentor younger men and older women to invest in younger women. Why? Because someone who has walked with God for many years has an incredible amount of wisdom and experience to guide the next generation.
Not all mentors have to be significantly older than you. The most important quality of a spiritual mentor is a life that has been consistently lived under the influence of Jesus Christ. It is wise to look for a person who has attained a level of spiritual maturity you wish to achieve, then to learn from that person how to study the Bible, pray and live out true faith in Jesus.
A spiritual mentor can strengthen your relationship with God by holding you accountable for the areas in which you wish to improve. She can suggest certain study topics or books of the Bible, pray with you, and offer advice and encouragement in difficult times. While our family and friends offer some of this support, having an objective, spiritually mature opinion outside of our immediate family can provide more perspective on issues where we need wisdom and guidance.
My spiritual mentors studied with me and advised me until I moved to Virginia a year after meeting them. But I never forgot the investment they made! They have continued to be an integral part of my life—attending my wedding and, most recently, a baby shower for my daughter’s upcoming debut. Their wisdom for making decisions, trusting God, and now, handling marriage and parenting has stuck with me through the years. And most of all, I can look to their examples as guidance for what a godly woman’s life exemplifies.
If you’re wondering where to begin looking for a spiritual mentor, start in the women’s ministry at your church. Wives of youth pastors, your mom’s friends or Bible study leaders are often very eager to help younger women—but they don’t want to be intrusive or assume you need help! Just by asking for advice or mentorship you reveal you have a teachable heart that wishes to learn and grow.
And finally: Pray for the right mentor to come along! God will bring just the right person to counsel you through your current stage of life and help you grow into all the woman He has designed you to be.