A letter to a mentor helps us understand the importance of Christian encouragement and example.
Dawn E. Schulz
Dear Christian Mentor,
I’m not exactly sure where to start. I have so much to say. I came across the Bible you gave me the other day, and a flood of memories has been swirling around my head ever since. I just can’t let another day go by without saying, “Thank you!” God has used you in so many ways to shape the Christian woman I am today. Words can never express how grateful I am to him for the gift of you.
I’m not sure if you remember this, but there was one day I left a note in your office saying, “I am DONE!” Done with trying. Done with giving. Done with loving. Done with it all. I was hurt, frustrated, and felt very misunderstood. I should have known then how special you are to put up with my drama.
Do you remember what you did?
You found me in the halls of my dorm and gave me your One Year NIV Bible. You said I didn’t need to quit. I needed to change my perspective. “Start with Romans 5:3,4,” you said. “We glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
And that was it. My bumper boat of emotions was placed right back in the middle of the path with God’s Word to light the way.
That’s just what you do. In difficulty and trial. In joy and celebration. In work and relaxing times. Whether intentional or unaware you have always lovingly guided me back to Jesus through God’s Word. Scripture has embedded itself in your heart, convinced you of who you are in Christ, and motivated your every action. And you have never missed an opportunity to share that biblical identity with me in the hopes that mine would be the same.
You aren’t just one person. You are the many people God has used in my life. My mom, grandma, aunt, and sister. My teacher, my friend, my coworker, and even the lady I hardly know at church. Some of our relationships have lasted a lifetime, while others have been a brief season. Each of you has different backgrounds, talents, challenges, and strengths. But there is one thing all of you have in common. You have shown me an example of what it is to be a Christian woman because you have followed the example of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1).
Your mentoring hasn’t always been as direct as handing me a Bible and telling me to read. Often a subtle glance or tap on the shoulder was all it took to remind me I was heading toward the cliff of slander or disrespect. You rarely told me what to do, but rather helped to reveal pure motives or selfish intent through questions of genuine interest in my life. When you shared frustrations or disappointments from your own life you always ended with thanksgiving to God for his salvation, guidance, and answer to prayer. You never spoke as if you had all the answers. You didn’t need to. God had them. And that was what mattered.
Even more than words, I observed your practices. If “actions speak louder than words,” your life has been a megaphone. I’ve watched you make wise use of your time for the benefit of family, friends, and God’s kingdom of believers. Often that meant sacrifices of sleep, resources, and personal comfort. But that didn’t matter. You did it as if serving the Lord. I’ve witnessed you make tough decisions despite ridicule because they were in line with God’s standards. I’ve observed you navigate the work world as a professional who never forgets she is God’s child first. You’ve demonstrated limitless generosity that freely gives—even through hurt and rejection. You have shown me that sometimes a harsh word needs to be said, but there will always be forgiveness and reconciliation. ALWAYS. Your heart has been changed by the grace of Jesus Christ, and you live it every day. Everything you do is a way to honor him and say thank you.
You also knew the best way for me to learn would be to invite me into your life instead of watch as an outsider.
The thing is, I’m pretty sure you didn’t even know you were doing this. You’re probably horrified I’m making all this fuss. But Jesus said it would be like that on the Last Day, right? “ ‘Lord, when did we see you . . .?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ ” (Matthew 25:37-40).
I’m taking the time to finally say thank you because I realize with great appreciation what a blessing a Christian mentor is. In my naïveté, I assumed everyone had you in their life. I thought every woman had a mentor to nurture, encourage, and equip her according to God’s Word. But that’s not the case. I look around and see the selfish and inconsistent icons of our culture luring the unaware down confusing and destructive paths. The world today tells women their value and identity comes from what they do instead of who they are because of Jesus. The cheap alternatives of title, achievement, and appearance are promoted by society instead of the qualities of biblical womanhood like diligence, wisdom, generosity, and dignity found in Proverbs 31.
I often talk with women caught in the middle of these conflicting standards. They want the answers to life’s questions about relationships, parenting, career choices, and womanhood. They are frustrated, confused, and about ready to be DONE!
And that’s when I think of you and smile. I tell them they don’t need to quit. They just need to change their perspective. And then we open the Bible to see the guidance God’s Word has to give.
You’ve showed me that’s what a mentor does. She lovingly shares her faith and life through relationships in order to build up believers and show Christ to unbelievers. Thank you for giving me a picture of what that looks like. And thank you for the encouragement to let me know I can do the same.
May God continue to bless the lives of those around you as you have blessed mine.
Dawn Schulz is a member at Cross of Life, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
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Author: Dawn E. Schulz
Volume 103, Number 5
Issue: May 2016
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