Saturday, January 31, 2015

"Momentary" Active Relational Christian Mentoring

On a cold blustery Sunday after church services, I was given a chance to speak into another woman’s life. I was waiting for my husband to bring the car around to pick me up, when I suddenly decided to step back in the building to wait for him out of the cold. Just inside the door I encountered a woman crying. I asked her if there was something wrong. Was she sick or hurting? Had she just received bad news? Finally, I asked her if the Holy Spirit was convicting her about something. At which point, she said she didn't know. So, I asked her if she was “Saved”. She said, “yes”. Then I asked her if she felt like the Holy Spirit was trying to tell her something. It was at this point that she started to open up and talk. It seems that among other things, she was being convicted about her failure to regularly attend church.

I am not sure what the Lord wanted me to do or say. But, I know that God orchestrated our meeting. Did I say the right things? I don’t know that I hit the nail on the head with my gentle questioning, but I know that I really cared about her and wanted to help. Through words of comfort and care, I assured her that God loved her and that whatever her situation, God would be there for her to help her through it. A few minutes later our pastor came over to speak to her privately. So, upon leaving, I gave her my telephone number and assured her she could call me any time if she needed to talk.

I shared this with you, because Active relational Christian mentoring is not always about mentoring over several weeks, months or years, although some mentoring can certainly take those amounts of time. ARCM is simply about being there for another woman. The amount of time necessary for the mentoring sessions is established by the mentor and mentee and depends upon the topic. For example, if I reach out to support or comfort another woman, I may find that the mentoring is momentary or only takes one session. On the other hand, if I am an accountability mentor trying to help my mentee quit smoking, I may need to mentor her daily and then weekly for the next few weeks or months. However, once the mentee has truly quit smoking, I may only be called upon to speak into her life during times of stress when it would be easy for her to start smoking again.

Whether it is counseling a mentee on an important decision, or encouraging her during an emotional crisis, it is important to recognize when God places a mentee in front of us. But, when we recognize that God has given us a mentoring service to perform, we have to step forward to mentor, even if it is just momentary mentoring. The Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For, just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” – (II Corinthians 1: 3-5 NASV).

That day, I was faced with an emotionally distraught woman. I could have thought about my husband sitting and waiting on me. I could have thought that I needed to get home to fix lunch or any other number of thoughts, which might have kept me from helping this woman. Obviously, the devil throws out all kinds of reasons why we should not stop and comfort a woman. But, with her tears, I knew this woman was hurting. I didn't know if I could help, but I knew that the Lord wanted me to comfort her.

ARCM is living life the way Christ wants us to live it. He wants us to do for others as we would want someone else to do for us. We are to love others as we love ourselves. So, it is important that we get in the habit of listening for promptings from the Holy Spirit. But, we also have to act upon those promptings.

If we slow our lives down a little, we will have many opportunities to help other women. Moreover, just as a swimming teacher doesn't throw you in the deep end of the pool when you aren't ready to swim there, God won’t throw you into situations for which you are not ready. Instead, like a swimming student is initially placed in the shallow end of the pool, God puts small mentoring services in our path first too. Some of those small mentoring services can then turn into larger ones. But, no matter the size of the service, we should be willing to do that which the Lord wants us to do. I know you can do it!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Spirit of Active Relational Christian Mentoring

Whether we have been a Christian for a short period of time or for years, for most of us, there have been times when we needed a little Christian mentoring. Even long-time believers can need help in growing closer to the Lord. ARCM is where Christians can help each other and help both new and long-time believers develop a closer walk with the Lord. We may also just need some type of support, comfort, or knowledge along the way. ARCM can provide that as well. For, the Spirit of ARCM is one of generosity and compassion.

With Christian mentoring, we can all work together as a unit or single body of believers to help each other in our spiritual growth. We can help each other through the difficult times too. So, whether we are mentoring girls, young women, or mature women, we can each do our part for the body of Christ. For, the Bible tells us that “Each of us finds our meaning and function as part of His body.” – (Romans 12: 5. The Message.)  As part of Christ’s body, we are to show loving kindness by helping others. Within our spirit of generosity and compassion, we can find our purpose or function here on earth as one of God’s ambassadors. So whether it is giving someone emotional support, encouragement to reach out in life, help to learn a new skill, or a friend who cares, we can be that Christian who shows compassion, love, and generosity of heart.

Living a Christ-like life and fellowshipping with other Christians through ARCM is also a wonderful way to communicate and fellowship with the Lord. For, it is through prayer with the Father that the Holy Spirit shows us what we can do for our mentees. At the same time, we grow more spiritually mature as we listen to the Holy Spirit and study the Scriptures. Our lives can become more Christ-like when we become mentors in service to the Lord. However, it is through our Salvation that we are enabled to become like Christ. For the word, “Christians” means we are to be “little Christs”. In fact, “God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided at the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity He restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him.” – (Romans 8: 29. The Message).

In developing mentoring relationships based on a Christ-like lifestyle, we can further the ideals and values of the Kingdom of God. But, God knew that it would be hard for us to live the Christ-like life that He intended for us. For, the world and its enticements are always there to tempt us away from God's Truth. That is why Christ sent the gift of the Holy Spirit to be with believers all the time. For, it is the Holy Spirit, dwelling within Christians, who helps us produce and obtain even more of Christ’s character. So, if we listen to and obey the directions of the Holy Spirit we can become more Christ-like every day. In fact, the Apostle Paul said, “ … as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like Him and reflect His glory even more.” – (II Corinthians 3: 18. NLT). However, we must listen and obey the Holy Spirit if we want to become more like Christ. By living a life that follows the teachings of Christ, we are not only bettering ourselves, but we are giving the rest of the world something to think about. Listening to the Holy Spirit’s guidance will also help us in our Christian mentoring of other women.

Christian mentors will have many different relationships with their different mentees. They may all be good, kind and caring relationships. But, the relationship we have with Jesus Christ is the most wonderful relationship of all. It is sweet, joyous, soul warming, and beautiful in so many ways. Sharing the joy of the Good News with others, even when mentoring on different topics and in different ways, can grow and empower other women in their relationship with Christ. We are all to be Christian mentors to one another; helping each other become the best Christian and follower of Christ that we can be. In order to do so, we need to carry the Spirit of ARCM with us every day. It is a Spirit of Christ-likeness, generosity and compassion. It is the Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, who will direct us in our relationships, if we allow Him to do so. You can do it! You can be Christ’s ambassador through your mentoring relationships with other women.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Loving Others as You Love Yourself is Vital in Active Relational Christian Mentoring

A friend of mine told me that this year she was going to focus on “loving others as we love ourselves.” At first, I was a little surprised, because she is one of the most loving of all Christian women. Then I began to understand what she was saying. As Christians we all think that we love others as we love ourselves. But, is that really true?

Christ said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it,You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” – (Matthew 22: 37-40 NASB). 

Why did Christ add that last sentence? Well, if you read the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20) you will see that the first four are about our acknowledgement of and our love of God. The other six are about our relationships with each other. Our relationships with others are to be based on loving them as we love ourselves. This means if we love someone the same way we love ourselves that we would not do anything to hurt another person, as well as not hurt God. We would also do everything that we could to help and support another person, because that is how we would like to be treated in the love of ourselves.

Loving others as we love ourselves is not as easy as it sounds. We all come from different backgrounds and have different ways of doing things. We all have different expectations and some people may have more social etiquette than others. Furthermore, based upon our ideology, our faith or lack thereof, as well as our politics, we all have different ways of looking at life. Unfortunately, as very human Christian women, we sometimes focus on the outward appearance of another woman or focus on the way she behaves instead of looking at her as a God’s creation and then showing her the same kind of love that we would want for ourselves.

As Christian women, who have the Love of God within us, we are not supposed to focus on our differences. Instead we are to focus on helping each other reach our potential as women of God. This means that with “love” we offer to share the Good News of Christ with another woman. This means we offer to mentor any woman who needs the skills, information, knowledge or resources that we have to share. For if we love that woman as we love our self, we should want to share with her just as we would want someone to share with us. We are all deserving of the best. But if we fail to look at another woman as someone that we might be able to help, we are simply not showing or acting in love.

As Christians our work on ourselves is never finished. We are to constantly grow and seek spiritual maturity along the way. Part of our growth comes from developing Christ-like virtues. The greatest Christ-like virtue is Love. All the other virtues that we need to acquire and develop are bound together by the virtue of Love. The Apostle Paul said, “Therefore as God’s chosen people holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on Love which binds them all together in perfect unity.”— (Colossians 3: 12-14).

So, if we truly love others the way that God wants us to love them, we will step forward to actively mentor other women no matter what our differences. We will look for that spirit within them that God loves so much. We will share what we have to share through ARCM. We will reach out in love to not only love God, but love others as we love ourselves. Reach out to mentor another woman. You can do it!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Complacency in Mentoring the Next Generation

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in living my life that I fail to look around at the world I am living in. But when I watch the news or sit down to watch a movie, I am amazed at how far the world today has deviated from the world I grew up in. Yes, we all get nostalgic and think that our generation had it made. But, when we are only focused on doing the things that we want to do, we often fail to look around and see what is truly going on in the world. If it doesn't affect us personally at the moment, we don’t think about the next generation, the politics of the day, the terrorists, or even about what may be going on across town. We become complacent.

Each older generation is supposed to teach the next generation the lessons the older generation has already learned. The older generation is to make sure that the younger generation not only has correct schooling, but is also taught etiquette, proper comportment and the morals, values and ethics that will produce a new generation of knowledgeable, yet kind and caring people. Sadly, that does not seem to be what is happening. We are also not teaching the next generation that living is not supposed to be just living for ourselves. Instead, many people have role-modeled selfishness and self gratification for the next generation.

As I look at the world today I see new generations that lack knowledge and are lost in so many different ways. Many do not have a clue as to how to live for more than just immediate gratification. Many do not believe in God, because they simply have not been taught or mentored about Him. Many young people today do not believe in God because the older generation has, without saying a word, allowed the educational system to ridicule or exclude God from school life. Only those parents who home school their children may choose to mentor their children in knowing God. Even if our children go to public school, though, we should be mentoring the next generation in knowing and living for God and His Son, Jesus Christ. We should be mentoring them on how to look outside their small world of “self” and immediate gratification to the world at large. We should be asking them what they see in the world and how they would correct certain situations if given the chance. Sadly, even true Christians have become so accepting of the world’s standards, whatever they may be, that we have become complacent and dropped the ball on our responsibility toward the next generation. So how have we gotten so far from what life is supposed to be about?

We were all created by God! For You did form my inward parts; You did knit me together in my mother’s womb. … My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret and intricately and curiously wrought [as if embroidered with various colors] in the depths of the earth [a region of darkness and mystery]. Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them. – (Psalm 139: 13, 15, 16. The Amplified Bible). Isn't it amazing that each one of us was created specifically to look the way that we do and to do the things that we have been given the potential to do.

God loves us so much! He not only created us, but God created us to be in relationships so that we could receive love, knowledge and support. God wants us to love and help others and to tell people just how much He loves them. In other words, God wants each generation to teach and mentor the next so that we don’t fall flat on our faces for lack of knowledge. More importantly, we are to teach and mentor the next generation about the Good News of Christ’s Salvation. So, how are we to do this?

Well, God never leaves anything to chance. God has given us His Truth written in His Love Story, the Bible, along with His commandments to help us stay on the right and just way. God has also told us how best to live so that we won’t be deceived by the devil. But, if we don’t read the Bible and mentor that knowledge, then we and successive generations can and will be deceived by the devil and this fallen world.

Although it didn't start out that way, we now live in a fallen world that is deceived with lies, evil, pride and the need for self-gratification. However, to combat all the bad and evil things in this world, God has also given us His Truth by which to live. Unfortunately, many people today do not know God or what His Truth is. They have been so deceived that they now believe the lies of the devil and this fallen world. To combat these lies, Christians have to prepare the next generation by teaching them the Truth and telling them about God’s love. We may also need to tell others in our own generation, so they will know the Truth and the Good News too. This is where Active Relational Christian Mentoring comes in.

It is amazing to me that there is nothing about the human condition that is not covered in the Bible. God even established mentoring before the process was given the name of “Mentoring.” Although this is not the only place to read about our responsibility to mentor others, Psalm 78, explains mentoring beautifully. The psalmist says, Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable (in instruction by numerous examples); I will utter dark saying of old [that hide important truth] which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but we will tell the generation to come the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonderful works that He has performed. For He has established a testimony (an express precept: in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, commanding our fathers that they should make [the great facts of God’s dealing with Israel] known to their children. That the generation to come might know them, that the children still to be born might arise and recount them to their children. That they might set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but might keep His commandments.– (Psalm 78: 1-7. The Amplified Bible.). This is active mentoring! Let’s start fresh today and push away our complacency. Let's start mentoring the next generation and others around us in the Word of God. Although the Bible looks closely at the human condition and shows all our different foibles, it is a beautiful love story of what all God has done to save us from an eternal Hell. We have to share that love story with others. We have to actively and relationally mentor each generation, starting now before it is too late. You can do it!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Using 2015 to Actively Mentor and Give God the Glory

Happy New Year! 

It doesn't seem possible that we will be writing 2015 on all our documents. My, how time has flown! This is how life is though. We think that we have all the time in the world to do what we want or need to do. We even think that it will take ages for our children to grow up. But, our children grow up fast, and the many things that we thought we would do don’t all get done. So, don’t let another year go by without doing everything you can to serve the Lord and show your love for others. Let me encourage you to start right now and focus on Active Relational Christian Mentoring in every area of your life. Whether you intentionally and actively mentor your daughter or mentor the neighbor down the street, don’t let this year go by without speaking into and investing in the life of another woman.

He (Jesus Christ) gave His life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us His very own people, totally committed to doing what is right. You must teach these things and encourage your people to do them, correcting them when necessary. …” – (Titus 2: 14-15).  Mentoring includes teaching, encouraging and correcting when necessary. Jesus gave His life to free us from all sin, cleansing us with His blood, which was shed on the cross, so that we can spend eternal life with Him in Heaven. What a Sacrifice! The least we can do is share this Good News with others. But, it isn't just sharing the Good News for which we have a responsibility; it is the teaching and mentoring of others as to what it means to really live for Christ in a world that has run amuck. 

As Christian women, we need to step forward to speak into the lives of other women, for at times it is hard to live in this world. However, we are never alone if we have Christ in our hearts. Moreover, we each have the ability to use the gifts and knowledge that God has given us to help others, and we have the ability to share the Good News. The Apostle Peter said, “Are you called to be a speaker? Then speak as though God Himself were speaking through you. Are you called to help others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then God will be given glory in everything through Jesus Christ. …” – (I Peter 4: 11). I certainly want to try to glorify God in everything I do. How about you?

Whatever gifts, skills, knowledge, resources, etc. that you have been given, I encourage you to use them this year to reach out to women who could use encouragement, support, comfort, knowledge, help, etc. This will give God glory. The Apostle John put it this way, “Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other, let us really show it by our actions. It is by our actions that we know we are living in the Truth, so we will be confident when we stand before the Lord, even if our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts and He knows everything.” – (I John 3: 18-20).

Yes, it might be a sacrifice of your time and energy to actively mentor another woman. But, I assure you that the rewards are far above what you will ever give. So, this year please make an effort to reach out and mentor another woman for the Lord, whatever her age. For, it is through our personal sacrifice of time, energy that we can give the greatest gift of love which is the gift of ourselves for others. “God showed us how much He loved us by sending His only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” – (I John 4: 9-10). We honor that sacrifice of love by loving others as we love ourselves. This means that we should want others to know Christ as their Savior too. This means that we should be willing to teach, encourage, support, and help other women in order to empower them to be all they can be for the Lord.

If you have never asked Christ into your heart, I urge you to ask forgiveness of your sins; repent of the sins that you have committed and ask Christ to come into your heart. If you truly believe that Christ is the Son of God who died for your sins and was resurrected and is now back in Heaven with the Father, you can be “Saved” by asking Christ into your heart. Christ hears you and knows everything about you. There is truly nothing more glorious than knowing you are a child of God’s and will spend eternity in Heaven. I hope that 2015 is the year that you come to know Christ as your personal Savior. If you are already “Saved” I hope that 2015 is the year that you reach out to engage in Active Relational Christian Mentoring.  Happy New Year!