In every classroom, there’s a kid who raises his hand for every question a teacher asks. Often, other children stop asking and answering questions, because of this dynamic between the teacher and student. Hopefully, the teacher learns how to draw in every student gracefully, and the kid who likes to answer questions learns to discern when be quiet and why.
One of my burdens at our new church is that I be teachable and humble. I have been praying that I would be teachable. And I’ve been working at keeping my mouth closed during discussion times at the Ladies Bible Study (and trying to articulate criteria for speaking up when it’s appropriate). Having something to say isn’t always a good reason for saying it, I’m learning.
Part of the problem is that I have more of a difficulty doing what I already know to be right, instead of simply knowing what to do. I’ve always seen mentorship as primarily for those who need the latter, not the former. Another part of the problem is that I’m not a good question maker. When I’m with someone that I know is a godly older woman, I don’t know what to ask.
Today I had some ideas. I think maybe God is answering my prayer for wisdom in this area and teaching me some things about humility.
- I need to express a desire to know the older women better and learn from them. “I’d like to get to know you and learn from you.”
- I need to ask for prayer for the things I need. I don’t have all my ducks in a row, and there are areas of my life where I need much wisdom. I may not need another woman telling me what to do each step of the way, but I do need prayer. I’ve been thankful in the past for older women who have prayed for me. I just need to ask for it again.
- I need to specifically indicate that I am willing to be corrected or questioned in what I’m doing. I’ve noticed that older women don’t often poke and prod (and I know it’s not because I’m doing everything right). What I suspect is that older women realize that unless a person is willing to change, then change doesn’t happen well. Expressing a willingness to be corrected might be a good thing.
I’ve been thinking through questions I’ve learned aren’t particularly helpful for mentors.
- What did you do that all your children turned out so well? I’ve never gotten a good answer from this question. I think because it puts the emphasis on “supermom,” something a humble woman is uncomfortable with. She’s not likely to tell you a single secret that you don’t already know.
- How do I get my baby to sleep through the night? Actually, you can ask this one, but there’s a difference between practical advice and spiritual wisdom [i.e., applying God’s Word to life]. It’s great to be able to ask someone practical helpful questions (that might in fact, save our sanity at times!), but that’s not necessarily wisdom.
- Tell me what to do in this situation? Trouble is, if she’s wise, she may not answer your question, unless it’s pretty obvious in Scripture. A wise response isn’t something someone can “give” you, because God doesn’t give us grace for other people’s problems. Better to ask what Scriptures might apply in a particular situation, or what Scripture she found helpful in similar situations. Then you make the decision.
Have you found any questions I should ask, or shouldn’t ask, a godly older woman?