What Young Women in Ministry Need From Mentors
An open letter
Women ministers, leaders and co-laborers in the Kingdom who are a step or two — or 10 — ahead of me in this journey, thank you. It is because of your courage, sacrifice and visionary leadership that a young woman like me can even dream of fulfilling God’s call to ministry. Thank you for prayerfully paving the way for young women in my generation to walk in their destinies. Thank you for entrusting us to carry on the work you have begun.
We’ve come a long way in our efforts to champion women in ministry, but we know we’ve only just begun. Here are some practical things I, and other called young women in my generation, need.
First, I need you to tell me your story. I need to hear that you didn’t always have the opportunities, titles or platform you now have. Tell me about how you were once a 20-something looking out over life and wrestling with whether God was actually calling you.
Reassure me that you too got nervous to speak, that you didn’t always know how to network, and that you sometimes felt intimidated. Talk about the times you took a leap of faith because you couldn’t always see what was on the other side.
I need to sit with you over coffee or lunch and hear your “look what the Lord has done” life moments over and over again. This will encourage, inspire and affirm me in my own call.
I want to chase the big dreams God has put in my heart as fast as I can and with everything I have.
I need you to take me under your wing and let me live life alongside you. This doesn’t necessarily require any special effort. In fact, some of the best discipleship I have ever received was in a car running errands with a mentor, because she had to get to the ATM and buy groceries. I simply need to be with you, learn from you and watch you as you minister to others.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: Young women in my generation want to spend time with you. We love it, and quite honestly, we need it. We already look up to you more than you know. You might think you don’t have anything to offer, but you do. Others can benefit from your courage, hope, wisdom, life experience and tenacity.
Just as I need you to tell me your story, I also need you to help me as I write my own. Cultivate my God-given gifts and help me find opportunities to develop them, as well as call out gifts in me that I may not see. Help me recognize what the Lord is doing, both in my life and corporately.
I need you to make a place for me to learn to minister, whether it’s alongside you or elsewhere. I need you to coach me in things that probably come naturally to you by now, like how to stand behind a mic confidently declaring truth and how to gently shepherd someone with a hurting heart. I need you to be intentional in connecting me with friends of yours who are ministering in places where I believe God is leading me.
I want to chase the big dreams God has put in my heart as fast as I can and with everything I have. This is why I also need you to show me how to steward my energy and excitement wisely as I begin my ministry journey.
In my generation of fast-paced lifestyles and instant everything, show me how to slow down, exercise patience and move at a sustainable pace — running a ministry marathon, rather than a ministry sprint — so I may have longevity in this mission.
I need you to talk to me about practical issues, like how to balance the expectations of a husband, kids, church family, unchurched family members and friends. How do you structure your day? How do you maintain a sacred space for the Lord to speak to you when you are in the midst of an intense ministry season? How do you deal with insecurity and comparison?
Finally, I need you to edit my story. That is, I need you to give me grace when I make mistakes, which will be often. I need you to trust me enough to let me make those mistakes, and then help me learn from them. Sit across from me, look me in the eyes, and have hard, honest conversations.
And I need you to be a safe place for me to run. Share in my joy in the times God pours out His goodness. Be there to help me make sense of the times when this world of ministry leaves me disheartened and disillusioned. Teach me how to fight the spiritual battles that will inevitably come with taking territory for the Kingdom.
Most of all, though, I need you to pray. Pray with and for me and for my generation. Impart your anointing to me, and place your mantle upon me.
I need to follow you as you follow Christ, because one day soon, I will look back and see someone following me.
Women of God, I thank you. I bless you, I honor you, and I greatly look forward to learning from you.
A young woman minister who is looking up to you.
This article originated as a speech for the Network of Women Ministers breakfast at the 2019 General Council of the Assemblies of God in Orlando, Florida.