Our guest blogger today, Pat Ennis author of The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook , confirms my passion and mission to encourage churches to be more intentional about applying Titus 2:3-5 in the lives of the women in their congregations. We often think of a mentor as a spiritual mom, but Pat offers the perspective of a mentors being a spiritual big sister—
My commitment to mentoring comes from my early years as a young professional when there was an absence of older women who were willing to lend a helping hand. Many offered criticism, few offered help. I vowed that if I survived, I would be willing to help others on their spiritual and professional journeys. The young women whom I have mentored serve our Lord throughout the world. I love the times when I answer the phone to find one of them on the other end of the line. Their personal visits are always a blessing and their e-mails, cards, and letters often arrive to encourage and minister to me on challenging days. I am looking forward to our reunion in heaven and count it a privilege to be “the older woman” in their lives!
The strategy outlined in Titus 2:3-5 provides the biblical foundation for understanding the mentoring relationship, while the book of Ruth details an example of its application. However, despite the fact that Titus 2:3-5 is an instruction, not a suggestion, to Christian women . . . few are willing to mentor. Excuses range from, “I don’t have time” to “no one cares what I have to say”.
A Revealing Survey
The “Perceptions of Homemaking Study,” which established the foundation for The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook, revealed the twenty-first-century woman’s knowledge of—and ability to perform successfully—life skills commonly associated with the management of the home. In the study, 2,315 respondents completed a 30-item survey. Each respondent could list four skills to complete this statement: The homemaking skills many Christian women lack are. . . .
The 4,599 responses revealed that many younger Christian women lack the homemaking skills of cooking, sewing, organization, time management, hospitality, and cleaning.
Women who would be considered “older women” in their churches (35 and above) comprised 62.9% (1,459) of the respondents. They overwhelmingly replied that they are confident in their homemaking skills. However, as they responded to the open-ended questions, the women expressed concern for the lack of biblical character and practical skills possessed by the younger Christian women (15-34 in age) they encounter.
A Break in the Mentoring Cycle
The results suggest a break in the circuit: he Titus 2:3-5 model is being ignored in our evangelical cycle of women’s ministry. The survey results pose a thought-provoking question: Have the younger women become less teachable or have the older women failed to teach?
Seeing answers, I spoke with the editor of the Biblical Womanhood Blog to discuss how the Titus 2:3-5 passage can be practically applied to a mentor/mentee relationship. A gifted, well-educated young woman in her mid-twenties, she provided some insight to what comprises a meaningful mentoring relationship. She commented that in her opinion a mentor is like having a “big sister” who is willing to make a life-to-life relational investment—nurturing, involved, invested, and a willingness to walk with you through “your journey”.
Probing a bit deeper I asked where the “spiritual big sis” draws the line between being interested and intrusive. I so appreciate her suggestions:
- Ask questions rather than make demands.
- Serve instead of control.
- Demonstrate a willingness to mentor.
- Be an available voice.
- Avoid perfectionism. The scriptures challenge us toward excellence. Perfectionism is God’s responsibility. That means the mentor needs to be willing to share her “mess ups” so she doesn’t give the impression she walks on water.
Formal or Informal Mentoring
I believe that mentoring relationships can be either formal or informal and have some practical suggestions for each to share with you.
Formal Mentoring Suggestions
- Reading and discussing a Christian women’s book together (for example, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free by Nancy DeMoss, Loving God with all Your Mind by Elizabeth George, or my book with Lisa Tatlock, Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God).
- Completing a study like Janet Thompson’s Face-to-Face Bible study series, written for mentors and mentees to do together.
- Reading and discussing a commentary on a book of the Bible (such as Titus).
- Memorizing Scripture or keeping a prayer journal and then spending time talking and praying together each week.
Informal Mentoring Suggestions
- Discussing questions raised by the younger woman (regarding relationships, skills, or life experiences).
- Working on projects together such as planning events or holidays to learn practical skills in management (set goals then work together to accomplish them).
- Simply spending time together talking and letting the younger woman see your life and family.
- Sharing your knowledge about practical home management (menu planning, cleaning house, or paying the bills).
Whether formal or informal, “The Seasons of Mentoring Cycle” begin when younger and older women regularly spend time together.
Pat Ennis is a distinguished professor of Homemaking and Director of Homemaking Programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas. She is a speaker and author, and her most recent release is The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook with Dorothy Patterson (Crossway, March 2013).