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 for 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 Megan Hill and learn that you don’t always need a mentorship label in order to be discipled in the whole life of faith.
Here’s my interview with Megan Hill.
Who spiritually mentored you in the faith?
When I was a newlywed and young mom, I was mentored by an older woman in my church named Carol. Carol lived right around the corner from me for many years, and we would get together once a week for a time of prayer.
I estimate that we spent close to 500 hours praying together over the course of a decade.
We typically met at her house on Tuesday mornings at 10 a.m. When I arrived, we would talk briefly about various prayer requests—personal needs, yes, but also wider concerns for the local church and for the church throughout the world. Then, we prayed together for about an hour.
By the time I moved away to another state, I estimate that we spent close to 500 hours praying together over the course of a decade. We never called it a mentorship, and we certainly didn’t plan to spend 10 years praying together. We just prayed one Tuesday morning at a time, and week-by-week, I learned about the life of faith.
What did you learn from her life and example?
Although it sounds simple—meet together, pray, go home—those hours with Carol instructed me in the whole Christian life. By her obvious faith in the God who hears, she encouraged my own faith. By her use of Scripture in prayer, she taught me to plead with God for the things he has promised. By her holy desires, she shaped my own desires.
By her repentance, she taught me what it means to confess and forsake sin. By her thanksgiving, she taught me how to rejoice. By interceding alongside her, I grew in Christian love for her and the people for whom we prayed. I wanted Carol to mentor me because she was a woman of prayer, but I came away from our times with so much more than a lesson in prayer.
If a younger woman desires a mentoring relationship with an older woman, how would you advise her to find a mentor?
I would look for a woman who loves Christ’s church—and it may not be the woman who is the most vocal or the most obvious. It will probably be the woman you never think about because she’s in the kitchen wiping down the counters after the fellowship meal.
Look for the woman who faithfully attends prayer meetings, who volunteers in the nursery without being asked, and whose Bible looks like it has been through a war.
Lend a hand. Listen to what she says and, most importantly, watch what she does and how she does it.
Don’t ask her to be your mentor. (That may be too intimidating for a woman like her.) Instead, ask her if you can help her wipe down the counters, or if you can sit next to her in the prayer meeting, or if you can go with her when she visits the church widows.
Follow her around. Lend a hand. Listen to what she says and, most importantly, watch what she does and how she does it. Ask her to pray for you. Ask her to pray with you. Even if you never get around to calling it “a mentoring relationship,” you will be discipled in the whole life of faith.
Why is discipleship in the local church context so important for spiritual growth?
Discipleship in the local church is vital first of all because God commands it. The exhortations for older women to teach younger women by their example and words (Titus 2:2–5), for believers to admonish one another in the Word of God (Col. 3:16), and for God’s people to be constant in prayer together (1 Thess. 5:17) are all commands that were given to local churches and to us in the local church today. The primary context of discipleship in Scripture is the local church.
When one part of the body is being built up and edified, all the parts are blessed.
Local church discipleship is also important because, in the local church, we have a responsibility for one another. Just like a biological body, where each part depends on the other parts, Scripture describes the church as an interconnected, spiritual body (1 Cor. 12:12–26). When one part of the body is being built up and edified, all the parts are blessed.
This contrasts sharply with an online culture where we may certainly learn helpful information from other people, but where—for the most part—we have no ongoing investment in one another’s spiritual health.
What particular piece of wisdom or advice do you hope to pass on to younger women in your life?
Committing to the church is always worth it. I have a new book about the local church, and I wrote it with younger women in mind.
The testimony of the Scripture is that the church is the place of God’s blessing.
The local church doesn’t always look like much. It’s made up of ordinary people engaged in predictable practices week after week. It’s sometimes awkward and sometimes disappointing. It can be hard to commit. But the testimony of the Scripture is that the church is the place of God’s blessing.
I want the young women in my life—starting with my own 3-year-old daughter!—to embrace the privilege of belonging to Christ’s body, the church.
Megan Hill is the author of A Place to Belong: Learning to Love the Local Church (Crossway, 2020), Contentment: Seeing God’s Goodness (P&R, 2018), and Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer in Our Homes, Communities, and Churches (Crossway, 2016). She is an editor for The Gospel Coalition, and her writing has appeared in various publications, including Christianity Today, The Washington Post, Today in the Word, Reformation 21, Focus on the Family, Desiring God, and Tabletalk. A pastor’s wife and pastor’s daughter, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and four children, where they belong to West Springfield Covenant Community Church (PCA).
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?