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When I was growing up in Australia, my parents' record collection included a few albums by a smiling, petite singer named Evie. I'll never forget some of her song lyrics: "I'm only 4'11", but I'm going to heaven" and "Come on ring those bells, light the Christmas tree." I didn't know that 20 years later, God would cause this little lady to have a profound impact on my life.
My parents became acquainted with Evie when she was on tour in Australia. Because of the relationship they developed, she and her husband, Pelle, came to our shows whenever we were in Florida, close to where they live.
Each time I saw Evie, she would encourage me personally and in my ministry. I felt we were kindred spirits.
Our personalities, our love for God and our zest for life connected us. The bond between us was strengthened by the fact that she had walked where I was walking--as a female Christian vocalist in the spotlight.
Over a period of time, I became increasingly aware of my need for a mentor. I'd watched countless Christian artists lose their passion for ministry and become jaded, hurt and hardened by the constant barrage of physical, emotional and spiritual demands to meet schedules and expectations.
As a performer, there is also pressure to become too focused on entertainment, proud, self-absorbed and money-hungry. I wanted to stay soft before God and as a woman. I didn't want what I did as my profession to cripple me as a person.
After one particular visit with Evie, I felt a desire to ask her to mentor me. I highly respected her, and I saw her as someone who'd been through everything I was going through and yet had maintained the type of glowing, radiant love for Jesus that I wanted.
I prayed about the idea for months, but I hesitated to ask her, not knowing what her response would be. Finally one weekend, early the following year, I sent Evie an e-mail expressing my desire.
The next day she called to say that she "just happened" to be visiting Nashville, Tennessee, where I live, and she asked if we could get together that night. I was excited to see God confirm that this mentoring relationship was right.
In her Opryland Hotel room, Evie and I talked, shared and began what is now one of the most treasured relationships of my life. I had found my mentor.
Friendships Among Women The Bible often talks about older Christians helping younger ones along in their journeys. One such passage is found in 2 Timothy 2:2: "You have heard me teach many things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Teach these great truths to trustworthy people who are able to pass them on to others" (NLT).
Evie teaches me what she has learned. I teach others what I have learned, and they teach others what they have learned. That's the godly mentoring model.
Previous generations found mentoring more commonplace. In the past, people learned how to grow into their roles as wise men and women by sitting at the feet of other wise men and women.
They learned their trades from experts who were willing to share their expertise. They learned how to avoid certain pitfalls in life from those who had managed to navigate their way through.
Our current individualistic society changed that paradigm, however. Mentoring has been replaced by mantras of the day such as "I'll do it my way," "Who are you to tell me what to do?" and "I'll do whatever feels right."
We have forgotten we're social beings in need of other social beings. Homes and families are so splintered and fragmented that we often don't take time to help those coming behind us.
To some degree mentoring within the church family has similarly fallen by the wayside. We don't hear often enough about the vital role mentoring plays in our spiritual and emotional growth.
The word mentor comes from mythology. When the Greek warrior Odysseus went off to fight in the Trojan War, he left his young son, Telemachus, in the care of a trusted guardian named Mentor.
The war lasted 10 years, and it took another 10 years for Odysseus to get home. When he did, he found his son had grown into a fine man under Mentor's guidance.
Among Christian women, mentoring can be defined as a friendship in which one woman helps another woman become the person God designed her to be. The mentor's goal is to be a sounding board, to offer insights about life and faith, and to lead the mentee in a growing relationship with God so she can manage her own life and become empowered to pass on the mentoring she's received.
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