Throw out what you know about mentoring, except for the fact that mentoring is a specific command to women by God as recorded in Titus 2. Up until the late 20th century, moms lived near their own moms, and learned how to mother from close daily interaction. We can recreate those bygone days of mentoring with a little thought and intentionality.
Mothers are often overwhelmed by life. And places of encouragement are scarce. Isolation created by busyness keeps women separated from other moms adding to the challenges of learning from and being encouraged by one another. Women who are further along in their motherhood journey are the perfect mentors. But many are fearful of the commitment to mentoring. So what can we as women’s ministry leaders do to make mentoring happen?
Mentoring does not have to be a formal, drawn out process with a book of rules. Think of it as creating an atmosphere of women encouraging women. With the pressure to fill our schedules to busting, most women do not believe they have the time for a mentoring relationship. Others think they are not equipped or skilled enough to mentor. We can try to convince women otherwise, but the best solution is to create a plan that will work where moms are and lets mentoring occur naturally.
Instead of rules and long commitments, rethink the value of time. Incorporating little snippets of time into Bible studies and events for moms of different stages to talk can become a springboard for mentoring. Those of us who are moms know we talk about our children when gathered with others. If trained mentors are infused into small groups, encouragement and guidance will seep into conservations. Moms will experience mentoring without even realizing it!
Here’s an example of informal mentoring that has worked well:
- Hold a series of short coffees (1-1.5 hours).
- Have a mom who has survived motherhood share her story (15-20 minutes), then allow time for women to discuss key points around tables.
- Topics could be balancing career and mothering, prodigal children, mothering a special needs child, step-mothering, raising godly children in an ungodly world, being a single mom, etc.
- Before each coffee, have a prayer team meet to pray for the moms attending.
- Have an older woman/mentor guide the discussion at each table.
- Encourage mentors to focus on being positive.
- Be sure to use small tables to keep the group discussion intimate.
- Encourage women to meet later to further their discussions.
Keep it simple. Don’t let decorations or refreshments distract from the purpose of creating a relaxed atmosphere.
Combating the negativity in a mom’s world is a challenge for women’s ministry leaders, but it’s an essential part of ministering to women. Trying new ways to meet a new set of challenges keeps hope alive and makes ministry fun. So take a giant step into “informal” mentoring.
How do you encourage women to mentor moms in your ministry? Share your ideas on the comments below.
Dr. Deb Douglas is the minister to women at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, La., and a LifeWay Ministry Multiplier, launched her first women’s Bible study at the age of 20. Her passion is encouraging and equipping women to serve. She is also a freelance writer and contributed to Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level, Revised & Expanded. Deb graduated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Arts of Christian Education/Women’s Ministry and a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree. She is the wife of Paul, mom of Jared and Katie, mother-in-law to Emily and Jacob, and grandmother to Caroline.