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 Laura Wifler and learn the value of having a multitude of spiritual mentors through life’s different seasons.
Here’s my interview with Laura Wifler.
Who spiritually mentored you in the faith?
When I think about my spiritual mentors, I’m deeply grateful to say that the list is long. I’ve had both formal and informal discipleship relationships, and each one has been unique. The great thing about mentorship is that it doesn’t have to be complicated or formal—it’s simply teaching others what God has taught you.
It doesn’t have to be complicated or formal—it’s simply teaching others what God has taught you.
I’ve met with women formally for long seasons to study a specific topic or passage of Scripture, or to pray together. But I’m grateful my discipleship hasn’t been bound to that. There have been countless women over the years that I’ve learned from informally as we’ve lived life side-by-side.
Everything from how to discipline my children when I’m stuck, to reorienting my perspective around the gospel when I’m feeling grief or guilt, to making schooling decisions, and even identifying various herbs in a garden (as there are countless gospel-truths to be drawn from getting your hands into the earth).
What did you learn from their lives and examples?
The women who have invested in me have one thing in common: they love Jesus more than life. Regardless of their age, stage of life, where they live, or how their days are made up, they have shown me what it looks like to lay down their lives for the sake of the gospel.
I have yet to meet any mentor that has it all right, but that’s part of the appeal—their authentic, joyful humility. They are more occupied with the glory of Christ than their own, and they are willing to freely give what God has given them. They, like Paul, have simply said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).
If a younger woman desires a mentoring relationship with an older woman, how would you advise her to find a mentor?
Proverbs tells us to seek after wisdom like silver or a hidden treasure (Prov. 2:4). So while this isn’t popular advice given to the person looking for a mentor, it’s frequently advised for a reason: just ask! But what I’ve found is many older women don’t feel equipped to be a formal mentor. It can sound daunting and time-consuming at first.
Particularly if your church doesn’t have a formal discipleship program you can get involved with, consider praying for and finding individual women whom you respect in a specific area and ask them to meet you for council on one topic.
Consider praying for and finding individual women whom you respect in a specific area and ask them to meet you for council on one topic.
Perhaps you respect her children, so you can ask her about discipline strategies. Maybe you love hearing her pray in Bible study, so invite her to meet up to discuss how she’s grown in prayer.
Making a specific request helps that woman know what to expect, and a shorter time frame is often something they can more joyfully commit to. And who knows? Maybe over time you’ll both find it organically become something more.
Why is discipleship in the local church context so important for spiritual growth?
The internet can’t see your real life. While articles and social media can be immensely helpful for broad principles and application, they can’t see how we parent, what kind of employees we are, what our specific sin tendencies are, where we have spiritual blinders on, or how we really just need a hug in the midst of our grief.
Humans are complicated. We often need conversation and an inviting smile to truly process through life and gain a gospel-centered vision for it. Flesh-and-blood discipleship helps us grow in specific, tangible ways that the internet ever could.
What particular piece of wisdom or advice do you hope to pass on to younger women in your life?
Don’t believe the lie that you need to find one formal spiritual mentor in order to grow in godliness. Life is full of transitions, and seasons change. There isn’t one single person that can meet you in every stage with every need. Thankfully, that’s why God gave us the body of Christ—different people all gifted in different ways, working together.
There isn’t one single person that can meet you in every stage with every need.
Even if you go for a season without a wiser woman in your life, remember that all wisdom is found in the fear of the Lord (Prov. 2:5). He promises to give wisdom if you ask (James 1:5). If you are in Christ, he who started a good work in you will carry you to completion (Phil. 1:6).
Laura Wifler is the co-founder of Risen Motherhood and currently serves as the executive director and co-host of the weekly podcast. She is the co-author of the book Risen Motherhood: Gospel Hope for Everyday Moments. Laura, her husband, and her three children reside in central Iowa. You can find her on Instagram, @laurawifler.
I have a new book, Growing Together: Taking Mentoring beyond Small Talk and Prayer Requests that released 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, I hope it will be a helpful resource.
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?
- Growing Together: Who Mentored Christine Hoover?
- Growing Together: Who Mentored Emily Jensen?
- Growing Together: Who Mentored Shar Walker?
- Growing Together: Who Mentored Megan Hill?