8 Reasons to Make 2017 the Year of New Connections

christmas-accident

Happy New Year! I know I promised I would be back with my Monday Morning Blog this morning, but you know how we make our plans but the Lord directs our steps. Well I’m not sure He directed my steps on Christmas Day around 4:00 PM when I stood up to go charge my cell phone and play a game with the grandkids, and the next think I remember was the sound of my head hitting the edge of a wooden chest across the room. To hear the story from my shocked hubby and daughter, I stumbled and literally flew across the room and my head took the full brunt of the fall.

Well with a nice gash in my head, off to ER we went and came home with 5 staples in my head. I’m smiling in the picture above because they put about 10 shots of Novocaine in my head, which always effects my whole bod,y so I was literally feeling no pain until the middle of the night, as my daughter and hubby had to wake me up all night.

Anyway, it seems now I have a concussion and constant high pitched ringing in my ears, so later today I’m having a brain MRI just to be sure I didn’t do any major damage. I could use your prayers for that. But God is so good that I had in my files this wonderful guest blog from Shirley Brosius, who just happens to be talking about the Joy of Connecting and even mentions mentoring as a  New Year’s goal. Shirley and her mentees Kim and Janine tell their story in my book Mentoring for All Seasons: Women Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, releasing with Leafwood Press later this year. So enjoy this wonderful post from Shirley and I hope to be back with you next Monday.

The Joy of Connecting

By

By Shirley Brosius

Women who say they don’t need to connect with other Christian women don’t realize what they’re missing. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17 NIV)

I currently enjoy two mentoring relationships. I meet weekly to discuss Christian books with Kim and Janine, two women young enough to be my daughters.

2016-shirley-with-kim-and-janine

I chat weekly about writing and spirituality with Michelle, a young mother who lives a few hours from my home.

shirley-with-michelle

Here is how these women and I sharpen each other.

  1. We inspire one another. For instance, Kim set a New Year’s goal to control her thought life, and that inspired me to set a goal to not say anything this year that puts someone else in a bad light. Lofty goals, we know, but at least we’re trying.
  1. We pray for one another. If I’ve asked for prayer for something coming up during the week, I’m sure to get a text from Janine at that specific time, telling me she’s praying. I value her prayers.
  1. We accomplish more together than we could individually. When we decided we wanted not just to study together but to serve together, Kim, Janine and I dubbed ourselves Friends of the Heart and developed a website. We have now spoken to more than 10,000 women over the last ten years. Neither one of us could have developed such a ministry on her own.
  1. We know we’re not alone on the journey. We relate to each others challenges and walk each other through tough times holding hands.
  1. We rejoice with each other. I might feel like I’m bragging if I tell a friend that an article was accepted for publication, but Michelle and I know the struggles of writing, so we can genuinely rejoice together when one of our articles finds a home.
  1. We hold each other accountable. At times we set weekly goals and check on each other the following week: Did you make that call? Did you read your Bible today?
  1. We enjoy each other. With Kim and Janine, it’s fun to meet over a cup of tea or coffee, and in between meetings, we keep in touch by phone, e-mail or Facebook. Not a week goes by that we don’t laugh about something—often funny stories about Kim’s classroom antics or a corny joke that Janine can hardly share for laughing. I visited Michelle this past summer, and we plan to get together again this fall. She has become a special friend.
  1. We alert each other to life. I’m way ahead of them journeying down that road, and they watch me relate to adult children and keep in touch with grandchildren. Not that I’m a perfect model; sometimes I serve as a model of what not to do. And I learn about today’s world through their eyes.

Now I realize mentoring relationships may not appeal to everyone. But everyone can plug into some sort of group. I attend a Bible study at my church, and I’ve watched our group knit and share more deeply as the years go by. I also appreciate discussing spiritual direction in Sunday school classes.

If there’s no group that appeals to you, start one—a book discussion group, a young moms group, a teen moms group. You might ask someone to partner with you to pray. It’s always a blessing to hear someone else pray for your needs. Or like the women I’ve mentioned, ask an older woman to mentor you; if you’re an older woman, offer to support a young woman who might benefit from your expertise.

So get connected. You’ll be challenged and blessed. Don’t be afraid of deepening relationships within the body of Christ. After all, God made ministry a group project.

Read more about Friends of the Heart in Janet’s new book Mentoring for All Seasons: Women Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness releasing later this year.

Please comment to let us know other ways you’ve made valuable connections with other Christian women.

If you received this blog by email, please comment here.

www.friendsoftheheart.us

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Support National Mentoring Month

Januray Naitonal Mentoring Month

National Mentoring Month logo, designed by Milton Glaser

As I prepared to write this week’s blog post, I opened up my new 2016 calendar and there was my reminder that January is National Mentoring Month! I only became aware of this designation recently, even though it has been a nationally endorsed month since President George W. Bush proclaimed it in 2002. While the focus is on mentoring youth, as Christians we know we’re also to mentor those spiritually younger than us. The verses best known to motivate us to pour into someone else are Titus 2: 1-6:

Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives. The Message

In my new book releasing February 9, Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I quote the above passage from The Message as a reminder that it is our job as Christians to reach out to the next generation and help them set a moral compass that leads straight to the throne of Christ. I often wonder how many Christians actually take this command from the Lord to heart. How many realize that the fate of our nation depends on the spiritual maturity of the next generation in our families, our churches, our neighborhoods, our communities, our schools . . . ? If we’re not mentoring, who will do the job? Answer: the secular world!

As much as we complain about the current administration, and I agree there is much to be concerned about, President Obama has continued to endorse National Mentoring month, as has both chambers of the United States Congress. The campaign’s media partners have included ABC, CBS, Fox News, and NBC; Comcast; the National Association of Broadcasters; Time Warner; and Viacom.

Shouldn’t we, the united body of Christ, also support National Mentoring Month?

Here is an excerpt from this year’s presidential proclamation recognizing January as National Mentoring Month:

At the heart of America’s promise is the belief that we all do better when everyone has a fair shot at reaching for their dreams. Throughout our Nation’s history, Americans of every background have worked to uphold this ideal, joining together in common purpose to serve as mentors and lift up our country’s youth. During National Mentoring Month, we honor all those who continuously strive to provide young people with the resources and support they need and deserve, and we recommit to building a society in which all mentors and mentees can thrive in mutual learning relationships.

By sharing their own stories and offering guidance and advice, mentors can instill a sense of infinite possibility in the hearts and minds of their mentees, demonstrating that with hard work and passion, nothing is beyond their potential. Whether simply offering a compassionate ear or actively teaching and inspiring curiosity, mentors can play pivotal roles in young peoples’ lives. When given a chance to use their talents and abilities to engage in their communities and contribute to our world, our Nation’s youth rise to the challenge. They make significant impacts in their communities and shape a brighter future for coming generations.

I smiled when I read this proclamation, both for the championing of mentoring and that the President of the United States used the word “mentee.” When I started the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry and wrote Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry, many people told me mentee was not a word. I think Woman to Woman Mentoring put mentee in the dictionary!

Thank Your Mentor Day

Thank you mentor women

As part of National Mentoring Month, a day is set aside to celebrate Thank Your Mentor Day. This year, it’s January 21, 2016. A day to thank and honor mentors who have encouraged and guided you, and had a lasting, positive impact on your life.

In Forsaken God?, I encourage readers to remember spiritual mentors and the way God used these men and women to shape their lives and then to imitate those mentors by mentoring whoever God puts in their path:

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7

Here are some ways the National Mentoring Month Campaign suggests for honoring your mentors:

  1. Contact your mentor directly to express your appreciation;
  2. Express your gratitude on social media.
  3. Pass on what you received by becoming a mentor to a young person in your community;
  4. Make a financial contribution to a local mentoring program in your mentor’s honor; and,
  5. Write a tribute to your mentor for posting on the Who Mentored You? website.

To add a spiritual component to National Mentoring Month, consider:

  1. Start a Mentoring Ministry in your church.
  2. Become a spiritual mentor to someone spiritually younger, not necessarily chronologically younger.
  3. If your church has a mentoring ministry, serve in the ministry.
  4. My next book is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Honor your mentor or mentee by sending me a story about your mentoring relationship to include in the book. info@womantowomanmentoring.com.
  5. Pray for God to send you a mentor.
  6. Every month in About His Work Ministries’ Newsletter, we feature a Church Mentoring Ministry. Send me something you would like to share about your mentoring ministry to help other churches. info@womantowomanmentoring.com
  7. Start 2016 being a spiritual mentor, or finding a mentor.
  8. Remember that mentoring is part of parenting.

I’m looking forward to what God will have me share with you and perhaps mentor you in 2016. My “job” in About His Work Ministries isn’t to have a following, but to point others to Jesus.

Happy, Healthy, Blessed New Year

Another post you might enjoy reading is How to Mentor in a World Forsaking God.

Mentoring month men

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The “Call” That Changed My Life

Feed-My-Sheep-390x250Site of Peter’s Primacy Church at Tabgha, near Capernum – the area of Seven Springs

When you saw the title of this blog, you probably thought I received a life-changing phone call, but I’m not talking about that kind of a call. I’m talking about “The Call” from the Lord. Yes, that “Call.”

Twenty years ago, April 25, 1995, I was at a Women in Ministry Conference in Portland, OR trying to figure out how God was going to use me when I finished seminary. I had told Him I would work anywhere except in women’s ministry. Why? Because when I was a divorced, single, working mom, I felt unwelcome in women’s church activities. There were definite clicks and I wasn’t part of the “in group.” As the manager of an insurance team, I had watched some women’s ruthless ways in business, cattiness, nonprofessional, and whining and I didn’t want any part of it. Surely, the Lord knew that and would use me in the business world.

The second night of the conference, I was sitting at a round table, sipping coffee and listening to piano music while awaiting the evening’s speaker, Jill Briscoe. Suddenly, without warning, I heard the words “Feed my sheep.” I looked around the table to see who was talking about sheep, but everyone was engaged in their own conversations. So I said, “What sheep? Where? And what would I feed them if I found them?” Again, I heard, “Feed my sheep.”

I Agreed to Feed His Sheep! Now What?

As I realized it was the Lord talking, I said, “Ok.”

That night, I called my husband and excitedly told him about my encounter with the Lord. Dave calmly said, “Well honey, let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what this means.” So we prayed.

God answered the next morning when the speaker told us she was going to teach from John 21:15-17 where Jesus is telling Peter if you love me, “Feed my sheep.” I looked at the handout to see what her topic was and she was going to talk on “Shepherding Women in Your Church.” I let out an audible, “Oh, no!” This can’t be possible; surely God has the wrong woman.

When I arrived home, God began to reveal that the sheep were women and the feeding was mentoring, and I’ve been feeding His sheep now for twenty years. First, I started the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church, which continues blessing women in churches around the world. Then God asked me, a non-writer at the time, to write a resource to help churches start their own mentoring ministries. Next, He sent me on the road to share the Titus 2:3-5 message and glued me to my computer writing books about “Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness.”

Celebrating 20 Years in Ministry

Speaking @ Circle Drive Baptist churchCircle Drive Baptist Church, Colorado Springs, CO April 25, 2015

On April 25, 2015, in commemoration of my 20-year anniversary of feeding His sheep, God had me speak at Circle Drive Baptist Church in Colorado Springs on the topic they chose, “Reigniting the Titus 2 Woman.” The next day, I trained in Parachute, CO at Grace Bible Churches Woman to Woman Mentoring ministry first Kickoff Night. I hadn’t taught at a Kickoff Night training in many years, but it was such a sweet way to reminisce and be back in the heart of where it all began—watching women walk side-by-side with Christ at the center of their relationship.

Kickoff NIght @ Grace Baptist Church, Parachute, CO

Kickoff Night @ Grace Baptist Church, Parachute, CO

 

Do I think God planned for me to have those mentoring speaking engagements on the exact 20-year anniversary of hearing “Feed my sheep”? Absolutely! That was all God. No coincidence, no serendipity—100% God celebrating with me the amazing ministry that can take place when we simply say “Ok” to His call.

How is God Calling You?

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.—Romans 8:28

God calls all of us. Every Christian has a purpose and a call. But the key to knowing your call is to listen…have ears that hear God when He speaks whether it’s through reading your Bible, hearing a sermon, listening to worship music…. He’s talking all the time, but we have to listen.

When we hear His Call, we have a choice, “Yes Lord I hear ou and I will do what ou ask, and go where ou lead.” Or “Not now Lord, I’m too busy … too tired … too unsure of myself … just not ready to make such a commitment.”

Where has God been calling you? What has He asked you to do? We’re living in times where every committed Christian needs to know God’s purpose for our life and follow the “Call” that will not only change our life, but the lives of others, the culture, the world.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.—Proverbs 19:21

If you receive this blog by email leave a comment here.

I would love to hear your mentoring story to share in my next book. If you’ve been a mentor or mentee, please contact me.

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What’s Your Story?

Little girl praying

As many of you know, I’ve been writing the past three months on a new book which will be out March, 2016, How Good is God? I Can’t Remember … Creating a Culture of Memories.  I hope you’ve enjoyed all the guests who have enriched this blog with posts on many varied topics. I’m blessed to have so many talented and gifted author friends and I know you enjoy hearing from them.

I was surprised when several people asked me if I thought this would be my last book? I wasn’t sure why they would ask that except for the fact that we were under great spiritual attack and duress while I wrote on a topic that the enemy hates–remembering God in a culture that is quickly forgetting God.

But that would never stop me from writing and speaking for the Lord, until the day He decides to take me home. My ministry is About His Work Ministries and I plan on being about His work until my last breath. So it might not surprise you that I’m gearing up for the next book. I gave you a glimpse into it several months ago when I asked for stories, but I switched plans when the How Good is God? book had such a short deadline. So now I’m back to the mentoring book and I need your stories.

Do You Have a Mentoring Story?

If you follow me, you know that my passion is mentoring—Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s faithfulness. Since I wrote Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry in 1997, God has been starting mentoring ministries in churches all over the world, and mentors and mentees (M&M’s) have been experiencing the blessings of mentoring.

Over the years, many ministry leaders have sent me stories about starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, and many M&M’s have sent me their stories too; but I also know there are many untold stories that would bless my readers. Will you help me write this book?

I Need Your Help

The working title is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Here’s what I could use:

  1. What would you want to read about in a mentoring book about the seasons of a woman’s life?
  2. What would encourage you to be a mentor or mentee?
  3. If you’ve been in a mentoring relationship—either as a mentor or mentee or both—would you tell me your story? Even if it didn’t go like you planned.

If you would like to share your story, please leave a comment and how to contact you. Or go to the contact page on this website and leave me a message with your email address and I’ll give you more details.

Generation to Generation

FullSizeRender-2My 9-year-old granddaughter Katelyn asked if she could have one of my books for Easter, which made my heart swell with joy. I decided she was not too young for us to do a Bible study together, so I gave her Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha: Sisters in Christ.

An important aspect of remembering God, is helping the next generation know God. It’s our job description as Christian men and women!

Together we can reach, encourage, and teach what we’ve been taught to the next generation.

 Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives.

Titus 2:1-6. The Message

 

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Effective Mentors Ask Questions

two women mentoring

Kathy Collard Miller and her husband Larry Miller are the authors of a book I recently endorsed, Never Be The Same. I asked the Millers if they would share with you how some of the principles they discuss in their book could be applied to mentoring. I was delighted when I saw that they chose the topic of asking questions because that is the same advice and training I give to mentors. Instead of lecturing or trying to get the mentee to see things our way, questions can help the mentee arrive at her own conclusions. In my Bible study, Face-to-Face with Naomi and Ruth: Together for the Journey, Session Three, Day Four is on “Asking Questions.” This method works well for parents too.

Effective Mentors Ask Questions

by Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller

One of the many goals of mentoring is helping our mentee identify her motive for the choices she makes. All of us react, respond, and choose based on our desires and wants, or what we think will prevent emotional or physical pain. Helping our mentee to recognize motives is a challenge.

We are lay-counselors, and as we help people make wise and godly choices, we’ve noticed that long-range change occurs with a heart transformation, not just mental assent. We have also been counseled and mentored, and appreciated the counselor or mentor who asked questions that helped us identify our motives and what we hoped to gain.

Why We Wrote Never Ever Be the Same

We wrote Never Ever Be the Same, to help people discover why they make the choices they do. Rather than encourage them to grit their teeth and vow to be better, we want them to have a deep spiritual change where they trust in God—not self-effort.

Asking Questions More than Giving Advice

Asking questions rather than giving advice helps your mentee to get in touch with her motivations. If you only give advice, your mentee could depend upon you for her power rather than having a heart for God. It can be difficult to think of the questions to ask.

Although we don’t provide a list of questions in our book, we do give examples of how we use questions with those we mentor.

Questions to Use While Mentoring

Here are some questions we ask. These aren’t in any order, but use according to what the mentee is telling you. Then ask more questions based upon the mentee’s answers or response:

  1. What did the other person’s reaction seem to say about you?
  2. What if you didn’t keep doing that? What do you fear would happen?
  3. What is God inviting you into through allowing these circumstances?
  4. What would you like to say to that person who hurt you?
  5. Why do you believe that’s true when other people have told you it’s not?
  6. What were you hoping or longing for?
  7. What do you feel is lacking in your life?
  8. What does that choice provide for you?
  9. What were you saying about yourself during the time that hurtful thing happened?
  10. How does your behavior leave out God in your life?
  11. How does that behavior protect you from some kind of harm or pain?
  12. Everything is a choice. Why are you choosing that destructive behavior: to gain something or protect yourself from something?
  13. What does your choice say about who God is?
  14. What does your behavior or choice indicate is your belief about God, life, or other people?

Learning to use these questions may take time. Asking them may not bring instant change to your mentee. But the Holy Spirit can use the mentee’s new sense of self-awareness to reveal wrongly motivated thinking and choices. That kind of heart transformation will have long-range benefits.

Share a question that you have found useful in mentoring that the Holy Spirit used to bring a heart change in your mentee.

Leaving any comment here will include you in the drawing for a free copy of Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today by Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller.

 9780891124504-1

Kathy Collard Miller is the author of 50 books and an international speaker. Kathy and her husband, Larry, have been married 44 years and he is a retired police lieutenant who speaks and writes. Larry and Kathy often speak together. They live in Southern California, and have two grown children and one grandson. Visit them at www.LarryAndKathy.com and www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

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Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today (Leafwood Publishers) offers Christians hope that they can change their destructive patterns of behavior through identifying their sinful self-protective strategies and then being empowered to trust God instead. Their book includes biblical principles, insightful stories, and helpful instruction. It also provides discussion questions for individuals or groups.

Never Ever Be the Same is available at your local Christian bookstore and in both print and digital versions. Even though you may find Never Ever Be the Same can only be pre-ordered on some online bookstores, if you pre-order, your cost may be less when they mail it to you.

Amazon

Christianbook.com

Barnes and Noble

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The Call That Changed My Life by Judith Couchman

I’m delighted to introduce to you a fellow author, Judith Couchman, who shares her experience in mentoring other authors. Mentoring takes place in every area of our lives when one person who is a little ahead of the other in some life experience is willing to share and encourage someone else going through something similar: Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness.

Judith’s Story

Coaching by Camille-Pissarro

Coaching by Camille-Pissarro

If ever I felt stupid initiating a phone call, this was it. As I listened to my cell phone ringing into cyberspace, each pulse mocked me with a repeated warning: You can’t do this. You can’t do this. You can’t do this. I readily agreed with each ring’s caution: it mimicked the fear pounding in my chest. But before I could hang up, Erica answered.

If ever a woman contrasted with me, Erica was the one. Married with two young grade schoolers, she managed her husband’s left-brain medical practice and helped lead the women’s ministry at a church. A lifetime single and ardent writer, I joked that God created me so right-brained, I probably perpetually leaned to the right without recognizing it. I lived as a precarious Pisa Tower in bodily form. I also back pedaled from group attachments and their draining effect on my time and energy. But more and more, I thought about Erica. So much so, I wondered if God was calling.

After some questioning and procrastination, I couldn’t deny the Spirit’s persistent nudging. I finally originated the fatal phone call, the ringing that changed my life.

I’d met Erica at a small writer’s retreat, so we chatted with a vague familiarity. Then I posed the persistent question in my head: “Do you need a writing mentor?”

Without hesitation, she answered yes before I could apologize for asking and hang up.

And that was that. I instantly morphed into a writing coach.

From Dread to Delight

If ever a resistant mentor existed, it was me. Consumed by my own publishing and speaking life, I didn’t gravitate toward guiding writers in close-up relationships. I eschewed the recurring time commitment, the detailed assessments, and the embedded fears accompanying new writers. At the same time, I’d taught at many writers’ events—from expansive conferences to intimate retreats—and doubted the results. How many participants actually returned home and wrote? In my experience, not many.

As the Holy Spirit pressed me about Erica, I wondered if personal mentoring would yield more effective outcomes. In other words, would one-to-one mentoring produce people who actually wrote? Would they actively pursue God’s call to write and publish?

            Answering these questions meant following the gentle compulsion to call Erica.

Not much time passed before my dread transformed into delight. Through the recommendations of people I trust, I began coaching a handful of writers. Like Erica, new clients fascinated, taught, befriended, and stretched me beyond expectation. And yes, the chance someone will write and publish dramatically increases when a seasoned writer draws in close. This cheers me. This feels like making a difference for God’s kingdom. Like preparing the next generation to impact the world, too.

The Deeper Questions

As I’ve coached writers, mostly those getting started and some changing direction, it’s grown into satisfying, sacred work. However, the scope doesn’t encompass just my clients. It’s also included God challenging and changing me. Usually, He asks me poignant questions. For example:

  • I grew so busy pursuing my own call, I ignored the necessity of bringing along those behind me. This proved a serious oversight because Scripture called me to mentor, both expressly and by example. Instead, I acted selfish and protective. I didn’t give to others. Would I stop this self-centeredness? Early in the coaching process, I confessed this sin to the Lord and repented.

 

  • With so many changes in the Christian publishing industry, I’m unsure about my future as a published author and speaker. Despite my uncertainties, God challenges me to feed into the writing and speaking ministries of others. Is it possible my outreach could extinguish while theirs flames? Am I willing to still invest in them?
  • Can I not feel competitive or jealous of writers twenty or more years younger than me? Can I coach them with an open, encouraging spirit? Can I applaud if they exceed my accomplishments?
  • Can I mentor through difficult personal times in my life? Can I focus on clients and not myself, not expecting anything from them during these troubles?

Answering these questions constitutes an ongoing journey. But as I gradually say yes to each one, shedding self-concerns, I gain freedom, joy, and wonder. I celebrate my clients and their progress. I feel closer to God’s heart. Honestly, sometimes I hardly recognize my coaching self. Except I still don’t like making phone calls.

 

Judith Couchman is an author, speaker, and writing coach with more than forty traditionally published books, Bible studies, and compilations. She’s also contributed to Bible projects. Learn more about Judith and her work at www.judithcouchman.com. Or contact her at judithcouchman@comcast.net.

 Judith Couchman

 

 

 

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Finding Mom Mentors: No Gray Hair Required by Melinda Means

grayhairedwoman

Melinda Means is our guest today on Monday Morning Blog. I met Melinda for the first time at The M.O.M Initiative Better Together Conference this past summer. Today Melinda writes about something I’m always teaching–mentoring is just being a few steps ahead of someone else. Sometimes it will be an older woman, but other times it might be someone your own age or even younger like in Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha: Sisters in Christ. Melinda talks here about finding a mentor mom, but all of her suggestions apply to finding a mentor in all walks of life.

She never arrived.

I waited for her. Prayed for her. God knows how desperately I needed her.

But, as a young mom, the Titus 2 woman I envisioned never made an appearance.

I so badly needed a more seasoned mom to show me the ropes. To help guide me away from foolish choices and selfish attitudes.

But the sweet, gray-haired wise mentor I dreamed of – the one who’d spend structured time with me each week — never materialized.

Instead, God sent my pastor’s wife. Just a few years older than me, she modeled how to put family before myself in healthy ways.

He gave me another wise friend with kids a stage or two above mine who alerted me to the pitfalls I was going to encounter if I didn’t set better boundaries with my children.

“My kids always know I mean what I say. They never doubt that I’m going to follow through,” she told me. “Yours have to know that, too.”

Although she moved away years ago, I’ve never forgotten those words.

He sent me a lifelong friend who is actually a year younger than me who gave me tough love during a difficult time. God used her to strengthen my resolve and muster the courage to make hard choices during a very painful season with one of my children.

He sent others along the way who gave me just what I needed at a crucial time in my life and mothering.

Some of them are still in my life. Others were there just for a season. Still others didn’t even know they were mentoring me. I simply observed and learned from them, even though I may not have had even more than a passing relationship with them.

It took me years to recognize that these were my Titus 2 women.

She did show up after all! She just didn’t arrive in the package that I expected. I didn’t realize that my Titus 2 woman could look just like me.

Many moms do have wise older women who pour into their lives regularly. Today, I count myself among them.

But as a young mom I found the search for traditional mentoring difficult. Along the way, I discovered there’s no age requirement for mentors. They just have to be humble, godly and willing to honestly share the wisdom of their life experiences. As moms, we can learn a lot from women who are just a stage or two ahead of us in the parenting journey.

So how do you find your Titus 2 woman?

I have good news. She’s probably already in your life. You just may not know it. I had to look beyond my idea of what a mentor “should” look like.

Try asking yourself these questions:

  • Do I have a friend who is highly skilled in an area of mothering where I struggle?
  • What women do I know that have godly character that I admire?
  • Have I observed someone in my life who seems to handle difficult situations with her husband and/or children in a way I respect and want to learn from?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you have a Titus 2 woman in your life.

To benefit from her wisdom and experience, all it takes is a teachable heart, keen observation, and the humility to ask for help and guidance.

Are you the answer to someone’s mentor prayer?

We all need mentoring, but we can also be mentors. You could be the Titus 2 woman that someone else is praying for.

Because no matter how inadequate we may feel at times, we always have skills and character traits that someone else admires and can learn from.

God never intended for us to do mothering alone. We need each other.

Sometimes we just have to open our eyes to the resources around us. And open our hearts to other moms who need our wisdom and support.

No gray hair required!

Melissa Means

Melinda Means

About Melinda:

Melinda is mother to two teenagers — a strapping son and a beautiful and entertaining daughter. She has been a freelance writer since her daughter was an infant, writing primarily for healthcare publications up until several years ago when her writing focus took a decidedly maternal turn.

You can find Melinda on Moms Together, a thriving, interactive Facebook group for moms. She is also a Regular Contributor to Christian Work at Home Moms and More To Be, a mentoring site for mothers and teen girls. Melinda co-authored Mothering From Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family. It will be released by Bethany House Publishers in January 2015.

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Do You Have a Mentoring Story?

 Mentoring

 

“You should write a book about mentoring!” the editor suggested at the International Retail Show in 2006.

“You should write a book about mentoring!” the agent suggested at the International Retail Show this past June!

Do you think God is trying to get my attention? I do, and I’m listening. I so want to do His will.

If you follow me, you know that my passion is mentoring—Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Since I wrote Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry in 1997, God has been starting mentoring ministries in churches all over the world, and mentors and mentees (M&M’s) have been experiencing the blessings of mentoring.

Over the years, many ministry leaders have sent me stories about starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, and many M&M’s have sent me their stories too; but I also know there are many untold stories that would bless my readers. Will you help me write this book?

I Need Your Help

Here’s what I could use:

1. What would you want to read about in a mentoring book?

2. What would encourage you to be a mentor or mentee?

3. If you’ve been in a mentoring relationship—either as a mentor or mentee or both—would you tell me your story? Even if it didn’t go like you planned.

share your mentoring story

If you would like to share your story, please leave a comment below and I can contact you. Or you can go to the contact page on this website and leave me a message with your email address and I can give you more details.

I know God is smiling that I’ve finally paid attention to His call. In the beginning, I thought God’s call was just to write resources to help start mentoring ministries and then teach and train about mentoring. But He’s also been gently nudging me that there’s more mentoring work to do!

O God, . . .I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do. Psalm 71:17

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The Making of a Mom

In May, I  introduced you to you my friend Stephanie Shott who has a heart for moms and a burden for moms mentoring other moms, one mom at a time. Stephanie is the founder of The M.O.M Initiative, where I am a mentor mom!

God divinely brought Stephanie and me together from opposite corners of the United States–Stephanie lives in Florida and me in Idaho. But when we met face-to-face last year, it seemed as Stephanie talked, my words came out of her mouth and vice versa. God has give us the same passion for woman to woman mentoring, following the Lord’s direction in Titus 2:3-5.

Today, July 14, is the release of Stephanie’s book the Making of a Mom, which I had the honor of endorsing. We both hope to meet many of you at The M.O.M. Initiative’s first conference July 31-August 2.–Better Together. There’s still time to register.

Following is a glimpse into Stephanie’s story and her call from God to start The M.O.M. Initiative:

web-1

I caught a glimpse of her as she walked across the parking lot. She looked to be about sixteen. Young in years, but great with child.

Reflecting on my own teen pregnancy, I couldn’t help but wonder if she was ready for the journey ahead. Did she grasp the greatness of her newfound role and how everything she had ever known was about to change? Would someone walk with through her motherhood or would she have to go it alone?

I was eighteen when my son was born and had no idea what it meant to be a mom. Oh, I thought the whole mom thing was going to be a breeze, but it didn’t take long to learn that my dream of motherhood was very different from my reality.

I wanted to be the mom who did all the right things, never had to count to three, and baked her own bread.

But instead, I was a single mom, without Christ, without a mentor, and without a clue.

As the years passed, I married, and not long after that I became a Christian. Everything changed except that I still didn’t have a mentor and I barely had a clue.

For me, motherhood was like a messy experiment and my kids were the guinea pigs. 

That was twenty-seven years ago, and as I reflect on the way I muddled my way through motherhood, I can’t help but wonder where all the mentors were. I remember looking up to several women in the church, yet for some reason I was never able to wiggle my way under their wing.

But it shouldn’t have been that hard, and no mom should have to go it alone. After all, mentoring should be woven into the fabric of the church. Right?

Mentoring moms is powerful. It’s how you and I can change the world. It’s not only a God-given way in which we can leave a legacy of faith, but it’s also an amazing tool to help us reach our communities and this culture for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Two years ago I started The M.O.M. Initiative—a ministry devoted to helping the body of Christ make mentoring missional. Evangelistic in nature, the mission is to begin M.O.M. Groups that not only minister to moms who know Christ but that we reach those who don’t.

Ultimately, our goal is to reach a MILLION MOMS for Christ. And if only 3 women in 1/2 of the churches in the United States would mentor just 3 other moms, that would translate into reaching a MILLION MOMS for Christ and impacting over 2.5 MILLION CHILDREN as a result.

Sitting in the parking lot, a ministry was born and a book was conceived. I wrote The Making of a Mom to be a unique dual purpose resource. A book to help lay a solid biblical foundations for real moms who are in the trenches of motherhood…to help answer the deep questions of a moms heart and to help each mom embrace the significance of her role as a mother. I want moms to know they are deeply loved and profoundly influential.

I also wrote The Making of a Mom to provide and in-reach and an outreach resource for the church.

To help the body of Christ weave mentoring into the fabric of the local church. As an outreach, The Making of a Mom equips local churches with a unique resource that will help them weave mentoring into the fabric of the church and to reach their communities and this  culture for Christ by mentoring moms in urban areas, in low-income apartment complexes, neighborhoods, prisons, homeless shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, the mission field and wherever young moms can be found.

You see, if we reach the moms of this generation, we’ll reach the heart of the next generation. but if we don’t, I’m afraid we’ll lose them all.

Today, you and I have an opportunity to change the world one mom at a time through the power and beauty of mentoring.

I didn’t have a mentor . . . and I don’t know if that young girl at the gas station will have one either. But no mom should have to go it alone. So, let’s step into our Titus 2 shoes and begin impacting our community and this culture for the Lord Jesus Christ.

We’ll have forever to be glad we did.

To find out more about how you can begin a M.O.M. Group, click this link.

To find out how to sign up to be ONE in a MILLION MOMS who would like to be connected with a mentor and raise your children to know Christ, click this link.

To find out how to order The Making of a Mom.

TheMakingofaMomsmall

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Mentoring is Not an Option

This past weekend, I had the honor of sharing the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry with churches in Sedalia, Missouri. I’ve shared this message hundreds of times throughout the United States and Canada, and I’m as excited and passionate about encouraging and equipping women to mentor, as I was when I first heard God’s call to “feed My sheep” nineteen years ago. The passion never fades—the excitement of telling a new group of women about the blessings of following God’s instructions for mentoring never wanes.

Mentoring is The Job Description for Christians 

When churches call and ask for advice on how to encourage their women to become involved in a mentoring relationship, I say: Take your women to Titus 2:1-8 where the Lord is giving a command to all Christian men and women. He says for spiritually older men to teach the spiritually younger men, and the women to do the same.

Next, I suggest that they point out that there are no qualifiers in that passage. The verses don’t say: If you have time, or if you feel like it, or if you can fit it into your schedule, or if you aren’t doing another ministry, or if you don’t work, or if you feel comfortable with it, or if you feel qualified, or if you feel called…..

They simply say for Christians to just “DO IT”—no options!

In Titus 2:5 and 8, Paul emphasizes why it’s so important for spiritually older men and women to teach the spiritually younger: “so that no one will malign the word of God” (v 5) or “have nothing bad to say about us” (v 8). But today the culture is maligning the Word of God and bad-mouthing Christians because we’ve stopped following Gods instructions in this passage.

God wants the spiritually mature to help newer believers learn how to become godly role models reflecting how His people live and have relationships and marriages so others would seek Christ through us.

Christian living should help rather than hinder the spread of the gospel.

There’s A World of Hurt

Many young women today are struggling in their roles in marriage, as mothers, as friends, as employees, as women in the church. Where are the women who will selflessly reach out and “show them the ropes” of living a life in Christ?

I’ve heard the sad testimony of women who walked out of a crusade or revival meeting or the church service where they accepted Christ, and went right back into their old lifestyle. One woman told me she even went to a party with her worldly friends the very night she accepted Christ! She didn’t know any different. Many new believers backslide and go years with Christ in their heart but not in their head. Their stories have a common theme…

            I know I accepted Christ. I asked Him into my heart, but I didn’t know what that meant. My old familiar life and friends and unsaved family were all still there, and there was no one from this “new life” that would help me learn how to live it. It just seemed easier to go on as I had before. Only now I had a lot of confusion, guilt, and conviction in my life, which made me feel even worse than before I accepted Christ.

Haven’t you heard these stores yourself? We would never let our babies out on their own with no direction as soon as they could walk and talk. Yet, we let these new baby Christians go out the doors of our churches straight into the world, without a hand to hold to keep them safe until they’re ready to be spiritually on their own. This is tragic when there’s a wealth of maturity in the women of our churches. Women who have so much to offer from walking with Christ, and could help these younger Christian women mature in the Lord.

Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness

Taking the time to reach out to a spiritually younger woman is a selfless act of giving and ministry. Not to preach, but teach. To let your life—with all the wealth of good and bad experiences—be a role model that Christ was with you through it all. There are women in your church who desperately need a woman who will honor the command given to each of us in Titus 2. Women who will teach how to: study God’s Word, be a Christian wife and mother, manage a home and family, deal with temptation or crisis . . . be a “lady of the Lord.”

  • Who is assuming responsibility to transmit biblical values to these women?
  • Who is listening to their questions and their concerns and guiding them to the Book with all the answers and the One who fulfills all our needs?

Blessings of Being a Titus 2 Woman

Many of you know the blessings of accepting this Titus 2 call and command from the Lord. When we make an investment in a spiritually younger woman, it enriches our own lives, the sense of connectedness and shepherding in our church families deepens, society benefits, and we honor God’s Word.

Jesus said:  “I tell you the truth, anyone who gives a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ, will certainly not lose his reward” (Mark 9:41).

You can’t out-give God. As we share our lives with another sister-in-Christ, our own life and our church will receive immeasurable blessings.

If you’ve experienced the miracles and blessings of being in a Titus 2 mentoring relationship, please share your testimony with others who may have questions or may be hesitant to mentor. If you’ve been a mentor, please pray about making Titus 2:3-5 a permanent and ongoing part of your Christian walk.

If you’ve grown spiritually as a mentee, God will put someone in your life who is right where you once were and could use your encouragement and mentoring.

One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
Psalm 145:4

clip_image002_005-245x250To start a Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry in your  church:

Woman to Woman Mentoring How To Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry

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