By Rondi Lauterbach
Tracy is a woman in our church who could fit into both “younger” and “older” categories in Titus 2. She’s still very much in the middle of raising their only child, but she also decided to help mentor Sylvia (not her name), a still younger woman with three little ones.
Q: Why did you decide to meet with Sylvia?
Tracy: I was facilitating a small group at a women’s seminar. At the end of the day two of the women in my group asked for someone to disciple them. I duly reported that fact to our women’s ministry leader and started to walk away. She said, “Why don’t you do it?” So I did.
Q: When you and I first talked, you mentioned that you had to hit the “restart” button. What do you mean? Did something go wrong?
Tracy: After a number of months I didn’t feel like we were accomplishing what she had asked for. She wanted me to disciple her. I pictured a steady, formal program of studying scripture together and applying it to our lives as wives and mothers. But between pregnancies, births, sickness, and children interrupting us every five minutes, that really wasn’t happening.
Q: What did you say to her? What happened?
Tracy: I said, “I’ve failed you. Let’s hit the restart button. What do you want to do?”
Q: How did she respond to that?
Tracy: She agreed that we hadn’t done what we set out to do, but surprised me by what she said next. “No, you’re right. We haven’t covered a study book, but just you coming over and being with me has been very meaningful.” At that point I changed my plan. Instead of discipleship, this was going to look a lot more like mentoring.
Q: What do you think is the difference?
Tracy: I tend to think of discipleship as more formal, more overtly doctrinal—like you do with new believers who need to be established in the faith. What Sylvia needed was for me to enter the flow of her life and help her see Christ there. It’s pretty casual.
Q: What do you now that you have hit “restart”?
Tracy: I usually start by asking how her week was. As she tells me, struggles surface— her kids have been sick, she hasn’t been to church in a while, she keeps losing her temper with the toddler, etc. I help her label her struggles. Sometimes it’s sin. Sometimes it’s not. Then I guide her to the gospel. She needs to hear that she’s not the only one who’s tempted in these ways. I’m just like her! And she needs to hear once again that Jesus’ blood has covered her sins. His righteousness clothes her in these areas, right now. Then we talk about practical tips to help her move forward. We end by reading scripture together. It’s very sweet.
Q: Where do you see God at work?
Tracy: Our regular times together have helped her center on the Lord. Her husband doesn’t go to church, so my voice in her life has affirmed her faith and helped her keep following Jesus.
Q: Do you have any advice for women who are starting a mentoring relationship?
Tracy: First it’s just about regularity. Quantity comes before quality at the beginning—that’s what establishes the relationship. But gradually you get to see what God is doing in a person’s life. Affirming his work is the deep work of mentoring.
Rondi entered the Ivy League full of personal ambition and left under a new Master. Her passion is to help women see Jesus in the Word and be nourished by him. She has been a pastor’s wife for over thirty years, a mother of three, and now a very happy grandmother. She and her husband Mark live in San Diego.
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