At age 32, I was elected to become a sectional leader in our denomination's girl's program. When I say "elected", I really mean all the candidates stood in a line and I was the only one without sense enough to take a step back!
Being a sectional Missionettes rep meant planning activities and training ops for the girls and leaders in the program across our state and in my local area which included about 20 churches.
Twice a year the reps met together for planning sessions. All of us were pastor's wives and for the first time, masks began coming off as we gabbed late into the night. As I saw their hurts, I began to pray that God would allow me to help. But I didn't know how.
When the opportunity arose to take lay counseling training, I jumped at the chance. Here was a tool I could use to minister to the hurting pastor's wives around me. God must have smiled, eve snickered a little because the deeper I went into the course, the more I began to see my own insecurities and hurts - those things I struggled to keep buried since "pastor's wives shouldn't have difficulties - we need to be strong as an example to those in our congregation."
I wanted to help, but I was the one who needed it! God began a deep healing in my life, forcing me to examine deep-seated hurts which I had covered in order to survive. He began by uncovering them, then cleaning the wounds, repairing elements of trust and finally giving strength to grow up in Him.
During that time I learned the first 3 principles of mentoring.:
1. A mentor is someone who has walked a similar path before you, who's familiar with the rough terrain of that road and understands how to get past those rough places victoriously.
In order to be an effective mentor or help to my fellow pastor's wives, I had to face my own hurts and begin the process of overcoming them. I also learned that I didn't have to be completely "healed" emotionally to help. I only had to be willing to share openly what God was doing inside me to that point.
2. A mentor doesn't have to be through the experience or totally finished with her journey to help.
The most help I received on my healing journey came from the other gals I sat with week by week in my therapy group. We were all at different points in our healing journey. Some weeks I helped them as I shared my victories. Others helped me to get past difficult places as they shared with me.shared their stories with me.
3. A mentor helps by giving of herself. It is the honest sharing of experiences that brings healing and the most help on the journey. Our wise Heavenly Father designed it that way! None of us walk in a vacuum. We need each other, not only to survive, but to conquer for Him.
Not everyone is willing or ready to accept the mentor's hand, but that's another blog!