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?
Not sure about questions because everyone’s lives are so different. I like your idea about asking them to give you scripture that has been relevant to certain issues for them. Asking them for prayer is good. Also, asking them if they will be available to you and verbally giving them permissions to correct you is important. I recently had an encouraging time with a mentor who had thought ahead of time about some scripture to share with me in dealing with being an authority to my children and it was very helpful. There were a few specific questions I asked about a specific situation but even then you can’t really say “what did you do” because children are all so different and respond differently to things, but she was able to look at my situation and give me some advice. As we were leaving, the children were not moving quickly to the door and wanted to play the piano for her. She wonderfully looked at me when she could see I was not handling things well and she said “this is where you say, “NO” and tell them you are leaving”. It not only gave me the strength to follow through with what was right, it empowered me to continue requiring obedience from them throughout the day. I really needed someone to come along and say, now is when you… I only hope I can be as good a mentor someday to someone else.
I like your thoughts Michelle, thanks for sharing.
I’m a young mom and have been encouraged by your words for some time. Thank you for sharing your fruitful thoughts. They have been edifying.
To address your question, I think it depends on your relationship to the older woman. Based on the context and nature of that friendship, the question would either bear fruit, or not.
I find contexts where some kind of formal teaching has taken place is helpful. I can comfortably ask for clarification about specifics when I have already been given the principles.
Laura, I’d love to hear what you’ve been studying on authority and your children. Email me! Thanks for sharing your encouraging story. Praise the Lord for the courage of your mentor to give that kind of feedback, and for your wisdom and humility in receiving it.
Seda, Thanks for stopping by and encouraging me with your words. 🙂 I like your thoughts here. I think you’re right that the degree you know someone makes a difference in the degree of edification. It reminds me that part of learning from older women, and teaching younger women, is to spend time getting to know each other (perhaps quick to hear and slow to speak might be good for both younger and older). And I’m interested in your comment about formal teaching– have you specifically asked for it, or are you speaking primarily in a Sunday school class/ Ladies Bible Study context? I wonder if it would be profitable for me to ask an older woman, or younger woman, to study something with me.
Hello again. From my experience, forms of “education” can refer to books, thoughtful writings, lectures, and yes, certainly Sunday school classes and bible study. Folly is sometimes a result of plain ignorance. Foolishness can certainly be caused by rebellion. Nonetheless, sometimes, I lack growth in some areas simply because I have never “seen things in that light” or “think of that as a sin” etc.
Learning together with others sisters can definitely be of help. However, accountability and love provides further motivation to change. This is where the “relationship” aspect come into play. How open are you to the person you are mentoring/being mentored by? What degree of trust do you have in one another? How long have your known each other or how well do you know each other? How similar are you in your personalities (this affects one’s level of empathy, areas of struggles, etc.)?
I found your blog through your facebook account : )
One of the things that is very important at our church is discipleship/mentoring. I think the men do it too, but it is something that is really emphasized among the women of our church. Many of the “older” women have raised their children and now spend their time discipling the younger women of the church. I for one have been extremely blessed by the discipling relationship that I have, I know it’s helped me to be a better wife and mother. If you want more info or a list of some of the women who you could ask to disciple you, just send me a message through facebook or email me. I know it can be a little awkward to ask for something like this, but it is so worth it.
See you Sunday!
Kate, I’ve been encouraged by the older women in our church who are excited about spending time with the younger ones. 🙂 I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.