Mentoring . . . Discipleship . . . Spiritual mothering.
We have many words to describe what many of us long for: an example to follow—someone to embody the truths of the gospel so we can learn from their faithful living. We want someone who will speak truth, share godly wisdom, and be a listening ear when we feel at a loss of where to turn or what to do.
To help us catch a vision for the importance of spiritual mentoring, I’ve asked a variety of women a few questions about mentoring and over the next couple of months, I’ll share our interviews. Today, we’ll hear who mentored Christine Hoover and learn the importance of pursuing time with an older woman and coming with prepared questions.
Today, we’ll hear who mentored Christine Hoover and learn the importance of pursuing time with an older woman and coming with prepared questions.
Here’s my interview with Christine Hoover.
Who spiritually mentored you in the faith?
When we talk about discipleship or mentoring, we often think of formal meetings or relationships curated by the local church within a designated discipleship ministry. I do think there is a place for this within the local church, but I’ve found that the most spiritually meaningful relationships in my life have been informal. Two such relationships come to mind: my relationships with Claire and Kathy.
When we first planted our church, it was full of younger women. Many of them looked to me for discipleship. Claire was the only woman older than me, so I asked her to coffee and came loaded with questions about ministry, family, parenting, and friendship.
This became a routine. Every month or so, we’d get together, catch up over coffee, and I’d pull out a question about something that had been nagging at me. As our families spent time together, Claire modeled everything she was sharing with me.
Kathy is someone with similar passions and gifts who is further down the road of life. As soon as I met her, I knew I’d found a kindred spirit. She’s not a woman in my everyday life, but anytime I’m around her, I take everything in—how she leads, how she teaches, how she handles difficult situations, and how she ministers to other women. Kathy and I have never had a formal mentorship, but she has affected my life through her example.
Through these two women, I’ve learned volumes about theology, spiritual disciplines, church community, ministry, marriage, parenting, and God himself.
If a younger woman desires a mentoring relationship with an older woman, how would you advise her to find a mentor?
First and foremost, commit yourself to the local church. Commit to being at church on Sundays, and attend what is offered that will allow you to develop connections with other women. As you do, you’ll have the opportunity to observe other women.
You’ll likely be drawn to specific women because of their character, faithfulness, service, relationships, or simply your comfort level with them. These women are potential mentors.
First and foremost, commit yourself to the local church.
Prayerfully consider inviting one of them to meet for a walk, coffee, or lunch. Get to know that woman you respect. As your friendship with her grows, consider asking her to meet with you in a more formal mentoring relationship.
Sometimes the word “mentoring” or “discipleship” is scary to women, even women who are mature in the faith. Consider using less formal language. Ask her if she will study the Bible with you or pray with you at regular intervals.
Why is discipleship in the local church context so important for spiritual growth?
Discipleship is different from any other type of learning, because it is active learning. If I hear a sermon, I can listen passively and, even when convicted through the proclamation of that Scripture, I can resist following through with what I’ve heard. I may have questions or doubts about what I’ve heard but nowhere to work through them, thus missing an opportunity for growth.
Discipleship is never passive learning.
Discipleship is never passive learning. Being in a discipleship relationship means we’re faced with truth and application of that truth in specific areas of our lives. Alongside fellow believers, we learn to live the truths we’re learning. This is how God designed us to grow—in relationships with one another.
What particular piece of wisdom or advice do you hope to pass on to younger women in your life?
I want younger women to know that pursuing time with an older woman and coming with prepared questions are two of the most important things you can do as you pursue spiritual growth. Many faithful older women are busy doing what God has called them to do, but when younger women initiate and show purposeful intention, older women notice and will joyfully come alongside them.
Think of discipleship as a mutual relationship. Let initiation, question-asking, prayer, and encouragement flow in both directions.
Think of discipleship as a mutual relationship. Let initiation, question-asking, prayer, and encouragement flow in both directions. Older women want to learn from younger women too.
Christine Hoover is a pastor’s wife, mom of three boys, host of the By Faith podcast, and author of several books. Her latest offering is With All Your Heart: Living Joyfully Through Allegiance to King Jesus. Previous books include Messy Beautiful Friendship and Searching for Spring. Christine has contributed to The Gospel Coalition, For the Church, and Christianity Today. Originally from Texas, she and her family live in Charlottesville, Virginia, where they planted a church in 2008. Find Christine at her home online, www.christinehoover.net.
I have a new book, Growing Together: Taking Mentoring beyond Small Talk and Prayer Requests that releases on June 9. It’s not primarily a book about mentoring, but a book that two women can use in a discipleship relationship to help discuss a variety of topics. It’s meant to be one way to get the conversation started, but by no means is it the only way to mentor. If you’re looking for a place to begin, you can preorder now. To read more, here’s the initial article in this series.
Other posts in this series:
- My New Book: Growing Together
- Growing Together: Who Mentored Hunter Beless?
- Growing Together: Who Mentored Karen Hodge?
- Growing Together: Who Mentored Trillia Newbell?