It was the very first grown up ladies' Bible study I had ever attended. The teacher was in her seventies. She and her husband were retired missionaries, serving on staff at the church where my husband and I helped with the youth. I was the youngest woman at the Bible study and felt a little shy and awkward and out of place. But, that didn't last long because the love of the Word of God in the teacher sparked a hunger for the Word of God in me. I became an eager listener, an eager learner. Like my teacher, I fell in love with God's Word.
A half decade later, we were on full time staff at a church on the Oregon Coast. The pastor's wife believed we could sing, and so my husband and I joined the choir and also were in a trio with the pastor's wife. We actually sang for a big crusade that was broadcast on the radio. Sometimes all it takes to do something you've never done before, to do something you never thought you could do, is for someone else to believe you can and to not take no for an answer.
Probably that pastor's wife learned her tactics from her mother. Grandma Johnson, as everyone called the pastor's mother-in-law, was in charge of the ladies' Bible study. She approached me about team teaching the study with her. Like her daughter, she believed I could and, lovingly, didn't seem inclined to take no for an answer. She would teach one week, and I would teach the next. I discovered that I not only loved to read and study God's Word, but I loved to teach it. In fact, if you ask me when I feel the most like I'm in the sweet spot of using my God-given gifts, it's when I'm teaching God's Word. I'd have never discovered that without Grandma Johnson's influence.
I just told you three examples of women who influenced me greatly, who, though they never called themselves my mentor, were each one mentors to me in one way or another. I can think of several other examples of women who mentored me in various ways over the years and I am so grateful for each one. In turn, I've mentored quite a few women over the years as well. I've taught them God's Word. I've taught marriage and parenting classes. I've had them over to my home and been in their homes. I've rejoiced in their successes and mourned their pain, loss and even failure. I've seen them serve God faithfully and eventually become leaders themselves, others I've painfully seen wander from the faith. As the apostle John wrote, there is great joy in seeing my "children" walk in truth.
This week our oldest granddaughter turns eleven. When the weather forecast for the Oregon coast called for sun and a great discount coupon on a room at our favorite hotel arrived in my email, I decided I should take her for an impromptu getaway to the coast. As much as I rejoice in seeing those that I might call my spiritual daughters walk in truth, my first line of responsibility in mentoring is to those in my own household. In my case, that would be my own three daughters and now I must take seriously my influence on the next generation, my grandchildren. This is what struck me as I read Paul's letter to Titus and his admonishment for the older women to teach the younger. I didn't just think of the women I mentor at church, but of my granddaughters. I have a reverential fear of God about my responsibility to pass on to them my love for God, my passion for His Word, my love for His church, and my love for home and family. This is not only my responsibility, but my great privilege and joy.
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