So, you’re ready to take the plunge, to step out in faith, to reach out to a younger woman for a mentorship/discipleship relationship. But you don’t. Why?
Maybe you feel a resistance from the younger women around you. From your perspective, the way they relate to you implies that they’re too busy to add one more thing to their already-full plate. They seem satiated with the discipleship they receive online, and you don’t really want to say it, but they act like they don’t need your input in their life.
What’s a woman to do?
I’m in the in-between years of being older than most of the women in my church, but still relatively young, so I feel I can speak to the issue with an understanding from both sides of the coin. I, too, have had this experience. And, it’s likely that older women have felt the same things from me.
Sometimes, it can feel like younger women just don’t think they need older sisters or moms in the faith to help them grow up in the Lord. But you and I know it simply isn’t true, because Paul tells us that the older women are to teach the younger women (Titus 2:3-5), and that each member of the body needs the other (Eph. 4:16).
So where do we start? How do we cultivate that beautiful Titus 2 vision in real life?
As my children grow older, I regularly try to remember what it was like to be their age, and how I wanted my mom to relate to me. Do you know what? It’s stopped me many times from nagging or responding with irritation. They’re figuring things out in life and need my help to mature, but snapping at them or sighing in response doesn’t usually accomplish that end.
In order to remember, it requires me to lay aside my own preferences for the moment, or even the season. I need to stop, recall memories, feelings, and experiences. I put myself in my kids’ shoes and think about what they’re experiencing in the stages of life they’re currently in.
Remembering helps me be slow to speak and quick to listen. It reorients my heart from simply seeing the external need of the moment (maybe an attitude adjustment) to seeing the deeper, long-term, eternal need.
When I take time to remember, I’m able to come alongside in a healthier way that actually moves them to maturity. This translates to how we relate to younger women.
We’ve been in their shoes, but maybe we forget what it was like. How did I feel when I had a two-year-old and an infant? Was it easy for me to get out and meet with other women? When I had four young children and my dad was dying, what blessed me? I haven’t entered the season of life yet when my first child is getting married, but maybe you have, and you can recall struggles from that season.
Remembering our own experiences is a powerful practice and tool that can propel us to pray for insight and wisdom as to how to best reach out to and relate to the younger women in our life.
Do you remember trying to get dinner on the table with a fussy baby, a whiny toddler, and another child falling apart? It’s tough! And, it’s likely you didn’t have help most of the time. What if you offer to go over to a younger woman’s house one night to help during the dinner-prep hour? The conversation may be disjointed because of fussy babies, but she’s already used to that—it’s her normal everyday life.
But the fact that you chose to come during that hour to help her will speak volumes. The way she sees you talk with her fussy two-year-old will both encourage and bring conviction. Your calm demeanor will bring a measure of grace for the moment.
When you lay down your life for a younger woman in this way, to do a not-so-glorious service that blesses her and her family, it’s attractive to younger women. And to be honest, it’s quite rare. Chances are good that she’ll reach back out to you, because whether it seems like it or not, you are discipling her in those moments.
Oh, let’s be women who sow seeds of beautiful, life-giving service into the rich soil of relationship with younger women. The Lord will water, and in time we’ll see those beautiful relationships take root and grow.