Have you ever heard children argue with one another? One says, "You started it!" The other says, "Did not!" The first child responds, "Did too!" And on and on it goes until a parent intervenes.
I had a conversation with an older woman in my church that started out with a similar back and forth exchange where she said, "You are a leader." I responded, "No, I'm not." She said, "Yes, you are." Thankfully, it didn't require a grown-up stepping in to keep us from going on forever like that!
A Leader Isn't Alone
What do you think of when you think of the word leader? Do you imagine someone who has it all together, who naturally knows just what to do in every situation? Do you think of someone who takes charge? Someone who is independent and can handle everything on their own?
Though some leaders have such qualities, the truth is God did not create us to be independent and solitary. We are in fact dependent creatures who need one another. We aren't capable in and of ourselves to do all things. God has designed us to live in communities where we learn from one another and are sharpened and shaped by relationships with others. Through these relationships, we are shaped into the leaders God has called us to be.
God has designed us to live in communities where we learn from one another and are sharpened and shaped by relationships with others.
One of the primary ways God does this is through Titus 2 discipleship relationships where younger women learn from older women. Titus 2:3–5 says:
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Through such one-on-one, real-life, face-to-face friendships with mature godly women, God disciples and trains us. He equips us for leadership through these mentoring relationships.
All Leaders Need Mentors
It was through the mentoring of an older woman in my church where I realized I was acting as a leader, even though I didn't recognize it. As we talked, my mentor showed me that God was developing in me leadership qualities and was using me to lead our women's ministry. This same older woman had decades of experience in women's ministry and then poured into me so I might learn and grow.
Fellow leaders, we all need mentors. No matter what form of leadership we serve in, we need the wisdom of others. If we are teaching Bible studies, we need mentors who have taught the Bible who can then lead and guide us in teaching. If we are discipling younger women, we need older women to mentor us in what it means to disciple others. If we are a pastor's wife, we need an older pastor's wife to speak into our life and encourage us to love and serve our church.
How does one find such a mentoring relationship? Do we advertise in some sort of Mentoring Today magazine or post a notice on the church bulletin board that says, "Mentor Wanted"? Is there some sort of mentor matchmaking service we can sign up for?
Our first step, as in all things, is to pray. We need to ask God to provide us a wise, older woman who can mentor us in ministry. We need to pray for humble hearts that desire such a relationship. We need to pray for God to use that person to encourage and equip us in ministry.
- Look at the relationships you already have.
Sometimes a mentor is someone who is already in our life, but we've overlooked that relationship. Usually the best mentors are not the ones holding a sign or passing out business cards advertising their mentoring résumé but are humble, servant-hearted women. Look for those women in your life.
- Ask others who they might recommend.
Talk to others in ministry to see who they might recommend. Ask your pastor or other church leaders. Perhaps the mentor you need is not someone in your immediate church but in a nearby sister church.
- Consider multiple mentors.
Sometimes there isn't one person who can provide the leadership mentoring that you need. It might be multiple people. I have several women who are mentoring me in women's ministry. Each of them provides different experiences and areas of expertise and wisdom.
Leadership is not something we have to do on our own. It's not something we can do on our own. Nor should we want to. But since God has created the Titus 2 mandate, He will not fail to provide the mentors we need to carry it out.
As a leader, do you have a mentor? If not, how can you prayerfully pursue such a relationship?