5 Ways to Mentor Women by Samantha Villenave
Society is full of all kinds of crazy images and ideas of what a woman should be and what she should think. Stereotypes of how women think and act also are rampant. Because of the world telling us all these lies, it is difficult being a woman in Christ and also feeling comfortable being open with other people. In talking to other women, I found that feeling alone in our struggles or not knowing where to turn for help is a pretty common problem! We desperately need mature women to step in as mentors!
Where are the mentors?! It is not that female mentors do not exist or that mature women are unwilling to pour into a younger girl’s life. I get the sense that older women in the church yearn to be a good influences on the people around them. These ladies would love to hear from and help a girl who is struggling. Oftentimes, however, younger women feel uncomfortable being vulnerable. Today’s culture offers a rough terrain when it comes to image, purity, identity, lifestyle, and confidence. So what can be done to connect Christian women intergenerationally? Here are five ways that mature women of the Faith can help build that bridge and start mentoring younger women.
Watch your language
As a young woman myself, I have had difficulty building trust with some wiser women because of how they talk. Any words that can erode a girl’s self-confidence makes deepening a relationship difficult. Make sure to use words of love, mercy, and encouragement to connect with girls. Speak positively about other women as well! If you try to “be the mom” with a girl you do not know, she is unlikely to want to hang out with you and be open with you. Not all girls have a good relationship with their moms and may experience a lot of conflict with female authority figures. Establishing yourself as an authority rather than a wiser friend/mentor will probably not go over well. Women in my life who were able to encourage and guide me began by introducing themselves and just being very nice and interested. When I could see that they cared about how I was doing and even remembered things I had told them before, I felt more encouraged to be more and more open with them!
Avoid implications of perfection
No one is perfect, but a common issue in the church is that believers seem to have it all together. When everyone acts like you are perfect, it becomes more and more difficult for you to shatter this image. Women who want to be mentors should encourage other women but also be careful to not build them up as perfect. Older women are so well-intentioned, but comments like “I am so glad you do not deal with [X, Y, or Z]” or “I’m so proud of you! You are such a good example all the time! Your friends must really look up to you” can have the wrong effect. While being encouraging is a good thing, talking about someone in a way as if they are perfect discourages that person to talk about their struggles. What if this woman’s opinion changes once they find out that the girl they are talking to is far from perfect? What if they secretly do deal with X, Y, or Z? Assumptions are dangerous, so it is safer to approach every girl with no assumptions of what they have done, where they have been, and what they have experienced. Show girls that you are loving and accepting no matter what!
The other side of this idea is to be open yourself! One woman in my life who was a great mentor to a lot of girls approached her conversations by being open about her past and her struggles. She would talk about how she would try to combat certain struggles in her own life. Her vulnerability helped girls trust her and believe that she would be understanding. Openness and love are so key to accountability in an intergenerational relationship. There is a reason why James 5:16a says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (NIV). This is why we need more mentorship!
I can’t say this enough: do not gossip. Nothing derails trust and confidence like gossiping. When you gossip about others, you are showing girls that they cannot trust you with their own secrets. When you gossip about girls you are trying to mentor, you help show them that their fears of judgement, lack of confidentiality, and having a bad reputation are well-founded. Some secrets are not safe to be told to everyone. That is why having a special person in your life that you can share any thought, pain, or question with is important. Evil people are in this world that do not have others’ best interest in mind. Would you want someone to share your secrets?
Take the first steps
If you are seriously seeking to be a great female mentor, take the first steps. Be that person of maturity and love and introduce yourself to young women in your life. Get involved in ministries that work with the age group that you would like to reach and be available! I find that more often than not, girls will not approach someone that they would like to be their mentor. Deep down these girls really want a wiser person in their life to look up to, but they don’t know where to begin. When you show that you are genuinely interested in getting to know younger ladies and show them that you don’t have it all together, they will be more likely to jump on the opportunity. Don’t make it a project: girls can tell if you just want to do a good deed or if you actually care about them personally. When you really love God and people, His love will shine through!
Being sharp means visiting the sharpening stone
Make sure you have women in your life that you can turn to as well! Christian sisters all need support just as much as they need to pour into the next generation. You may be at the point where you no longer have women above you, but you at least will have peers. Strive to be continually Godly so that you will be pouring pure water into others’ lives. You will not be perfect – so always seek God’s wisdom!
Article originally published on iBelieve.com, used with permission.