The Surprising Reason You Don’t Have a Mentor

Since Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s book, Adorned, was released, I’ve relished the privilege of reading the sweet, excited comments from readers everywhere as I share #AdornedBook quotes and images on social media. It’s one of the fabulous perks of my job at Revive Our Hearts. Adorned paints a picture of the glorious realities of living out the beauty of gospel together, as Titus 2 instructs older women to teach what is good and train younger women. That’s why our blog team has been writing inspiring and practical posts about mentoring all March long. We hope you picked up on the theme that we’re meant to live for Jesus in community. But there’s this comment that continues to show up on our posts. I’ve read it many times from many different women, and it burdens my heart. It’s this: “I’d love to mentor someone, but younger women don’t want to be mentored.” As a younger woman (who’s also an older woman to others!) and a Millennial, my heart response to this comment is twofold: Do younger women want to be mentored? I can’t speak for our entire generation, but for many young Christians, I wholeheartedly believe the answer is a resounding “Yes!” We are actually starved for real connection, and we long to be known, understood, and loved.

We’re starving for something real and face-to-face, and we don’t even realize it.

But as our generation relies on technology like another appendage, we foster a false sense of connectivity with every thumb tap and scroll. We think we’re connected. Yet we’re starving for something real and face-to-face, and we don’t even realize it. We’re truly hungry—hungry to know what it’s actually like to wisely manage a house, to serve in church ministry, to lead a Bible study. We need to hear godly wisdom when we ask questions about dating, college, marriage, family, the future, suffering, and conflict. So where’s the breakdown? If we’re so hungry for real relationships, why do older women think we don’t want or need them? Why aren’t they seeing we’re ready and longing to be mentored? We, the younger generation, actually do appear to be uninterested and unavailable. Here’s why. We’ve isolated ourselves. As we cling to our smartphones (secretly striving to be known and loved), we ironically communicate to older women that we’re good to go, we’re not interested. Could it be that we’ve so busied ourselves in the quicksand of today’s technology and trends in the pursuit of fulfillment that we’re actually missing the real opportunity for genuine connection we could have with willing and wise older women? Our eyes lock tightly onto our screens. We try earnestly to look like we have it all together and like we’re important to someone. So we busily tap, tap, tap our phones, when we’re really just refreshing Instagram because we’re afraid to engage with people around us. We have important and burning questions, but since we don’t know who to ask or how to be vulnerable, we just Google them instead. I appreciate the way Erin Davis expresses this idea in her book Connected:

We can downplay our usage all day long, but our gadgets tell a different story. We’re addicted and our addiction is driving a wedge between us and those we are designed to connect with. When it comes to loneliness, we may well be shooting ourselves in the foot and it’s possible that technology is the smoking gun (p. 49).

So how can we demonstrate to older women that we’re here, we’re hungry for connection, and we’d simply love to be their mentees? These three qualities could go a long way in showing that we, the younger generations, are ready to hear from older women:

1. Teachability

Mentoring isn’t a cookie-cutter prescription. It doesn’t have to fit in a particular box. It can be both formal and informal. It can be at a coffee shop, or it can be at a kitchen table with little ones. An older woman’s life is unique, and so is a younger woman’s. The meshing of that relationship can take so many forms—isn’t that the beauty of this idea? What a mentoring relationship does require is a teachable spirit. Titus 2:3–5 instructs older women to be teachers:

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.

But older women teach to blind eyes and plugged ears if younger women aren’t willing to be taught. Do we have teachable minds and hearts? There’s something about youth that deceives us into thinking we’ve got it figured out. And it’s an attitude that wafts past older women and leaves them feeling unneeded.

Older women teach to blind eyes and plugged ears if younger women aren’t willing to be taught.

From one younger woman to another, can I assure you of this? We don’t have it figured out. I promise you lesson after lesson awaits us in every possible course, from faith and our walk with Jesus to practical things like budgeting and organizing closets. When we get a taste of just how much we need to learn, teachability is planted like a seed in the soil of humility. It’s not weakness, but God’s good grace that shows us how much we don’t know in order to turn our eyes upward in dependence on Him and outward in willingness to learn from those who’ve gone before us.

2. Curiosity

I actually consider myself to be a terrible question-asker. In conversations, particularly with people I’ve just met, I tend to share from my own experiences to see if the other can relate. But asking questions shows a genuine interest in and care for the heart and life of the other person. “Learn to ask good questions” lives on my list of areas to improve upon. A mentoring relationship will thrive on good question-asking. This practice runs parallel with teachability; it admits that we don’t have it figured it, and we want to grow, so we ask. Ask hard questions. Ask questions that require long answers comprised of life stories. Ask for advice. Ask without hoping for a specific answer. Ask follow-up questions. Ask for clarification. In our Google-it-and-find-out culture, we risk losing the value of engaging in conversations fueled by good, probing questions. Imagine how the kingdom of God might be impacted if we would be curious younger women who desire to glean wisdom from older women by asking questions. Our faith would be strengthened, and we would be encouraged to press on to live godly lives by His grace. This treasure of a True Woman blog post lists 100 questions to ask a mentor. It’s the perfect place to begin. Let’s value the older women in our lives by demonstrating how much we care to learn from them by asking thoughtful, meaningful questions.

3. Vulnerability

A genuine mentoring relationship needs this vital ingredient like bread dough needs yeast to make it rise: vulnerability. In other words, we need to be honest about where we’re at—with God, with our family, with our friends, in our own hearts. This doesn’t mean you need to dump out the entire contents of your heart every time you see your mentor, but it does mean that you’re willing to express the areas where you struggle. We can’t truly walk alongside one another in honesty and love if we stay in the shallow end. We’ve got to make the brave dive into the deep end. This does take time. You’ll need to reach a place where you know your mentor well and you deeply trust her. (This assumes that she’s a godly woman seeking to pattern her life after Jesus.) As you then open up in vulnerability, you express how much you value her input and accountability. Vulnerability is hard. Opening the doors to locked rooms that hold in darkness and ugliness is scary, uncomfortable, intimidating . . . and good. Sin thrives in darkness, but when we expose what’s dark and hidden, we walk into the light (1 John 1:7).

When your mentorship goes beneath surface level, don’t bail; stick with it.

Honest vulnerability also reminds us of this: We all struggle. Your mentor experiences her own battles against sin. You may be surprised by how much encouragement she can speak into the war you’re waging on sin. As you share what’s going on, she’ll be there to point you to Jesus, to pray with you, and to check in with you. When your mentorship goes beneath surface level, don’t bail; stick with it, and you’ll begin to unearth the beauty of doing real life together for God’s glory.

Don’t Wait; Dive In!

Maybe the older women in your sphere don’t think you’re interested in a mentoring relationship. Let’s surprise them in the best way possible. Let’s pull away from the false connectivity of the online world, look up, and show that we’re ready. Let’s be teachable, curious, and vulnerable. Let’s seek to live out the beauty of the gospel together—woman to woman—learning, growing, and loving. As a younger woman, what steps do you need to take to become available to learn from an older woman? Do you already have a woman who’s a mentor to you? How do you see teachability, curiosity, and vulnerability playing out in your relationship? 

About the Author

Samantha Keller

Samantha Keller loves lazy lake days, strong coffee, and writing about the ways Jesus transforms our everyday messes into beautiful stories. She digs the four seasons in northern Indiana, is probably wearing a Notre Dame crew neck.