Isn't it exciting to see how God is using women in our day? In greater and greater numbers, He is releasing us into anointed service and ministry. What is even more exciting is that we are being nurtured and empowered through our relationships with one another.
The Lord is helping many of us to form strategic friendships and mentoring relationships. In place of intimidation, He is building intimacy. In place of competition, He is showing us the joy of companionship. As we become transparent with one another, we are learning how to minister to God's people from hearts that have been bonded together in trust and confidence.
The value of such strategic relationships cannot be overstated. They provide training, guidance and much-needed encouragement when we out to fulfill God's plan for our lives.
Recently, Dotty Schmitt and Brenda Kilpatrick joined together with other female Christian leaders in our country to begin teaching women about the significance of mentoring relationships. In this article, they share their personal stories and thoughts on the subject.
A LIGHT TO FOLLOW (DOTTY) As a young bride I spent the initial 15 years of my married life in northern Minnesota. One of the first things I learned was how to drive in deep snow. I was told that when I found myself in a desperate situation I should look for a snowplow to follow.
Why? Because I would know I was fairly safe, even when I couldn't see too clearly, if before me were the taillights of a snowplow that was lighting my way as well as clearing the road before me.
This is how I view a mentor! She is a woman who provides a light you can follow while at the same time clearing a path ahead of you. She is someone whose life gives you deeper insight, inspiration, wisdom and understanding about how to live your life. She is also someone who has gone ahead of you by virtue of her knowledge, experience, successes and failures. Often mentors are women who have paid a great price to open pathways so that others may more easily walk in them.
Since the Lord captured my heart in March 1951, I have had the privilege of developing relationships with many women who have tremendously impacted my life. There was a Sunday school teacher whose love for the Lord and gentleness made an indelible impression upon my life. Then there were the inspiring role models I had in college among the leadership of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
These staff members were an example of godly character and radical commitment to the Word of God. I remember observing these women as they led Bible studies, taught us how to pray and counseled young college students by the hour. They brought us into their homes and exposed us to the values of a Christian family.
How vividly I recall being at a nice but rugged leadership camp in northern Michigan! One afternoon six of us aspiring "women in leadership" were invited to the cabin of one of the women on staff, Gladys Hunt. Gladys was a respected author and leader, as well as a devoted area director, wife and mother.
When we went into her cabin, we saw before us a beautifully set table with real china and linens. I remember how surprised we were to find such elegance in such a rugged setting.
During the tea party, Gladys led us in a stimulating discussion of what Paul meant when he encouraged us to "adorn" the gospel of Jesus "in all things" (Titus 2:10, KJV). The creativity and beauty of that afternoon was forever etched on my own soul, and countless times since that day I have attempted to follow Gladys' example by creating beauty and inspiration for other women in the most unexpected places.
SOMETHING MISSING (BRENDA) Unlike Dotty, I suffered from the lack of a godly mentor when I was young. I grew up in a home where I never received a hug or heard the words, "I love you." My mom hadn't received love herself, so it was difficult for her to nurture me.
Though she was faithful to take us to church, I didn't establish close relationships with older women there who could take me under their wings and train me up either in practical areas or in the things of God. At home, there was little communication between family members, and I learned to cope by simply retreating into a private world of my own.
I married at 19, and two years later my son Scott was born. When I was just 22, my husband and I started pastoring our first church. I was a rookie at being a pastor's wife and knew nothing about ministry. I thought saying "yes" to everything would win me the approval of all the people.
I was also easily intimidated. And I knew of no books that could teach me to be a good pastor's wife. Not even the annual conferences we attended provided the practical guidance I needed. Wearing the different hats a pastor's wife must put on left me stressed and fatigued, especially when complaints and discord resounded throughout the congregation.
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