It was October 2016 and I was preparing for a conference that my department was hosting that month. My coworker and I were talking about last-minute details, specifically an area I was in charge of in the main hall with programs and resources for the delegates provided from our department and the main speakers of the event.
“One of the speakers wants to share a few resources. Could you print them and make sure they are available to everyone?”
Of course I said yes, so I proceeded to print out 400 copies each. And when I saw what the first resource said, I was irritated.
The speaker was discussing mentorship, and I still didn’t know what to do about a spiritual mentor in my own life.
Now, the topic of mentorship didn’t irritate me specifically. What irritated me was the first point on the paper: find someone. Find someone? How are you supposed to just “find” a mentor? I had been praying for the majority of the year about this topic, ever since our first planning meeting. The group had been discussing possible interest sessions to offer when that specific speaker’s name was mentioned and the topic of mentoring came up.
Her point was that young adults weren’t finding mentors anymore and that they weren’t receiving guidance spiritually and emotionally. Her points were valid–in every step of life we have mentors. My sister has a real estate “coach” to answer questions and guide her through her first few years. In college I had a guidance counselor, the head of the English department, to walk me through the right steps to getting my degree and completing my senior thesis. In every sort of endeavor, there is someone there to walk with you, guide you, answer questions. It only makes sense that we would have a spiritual mentor.
But for the life of me, I couldn’t think of a single person to “find.”
There were people in my life that I had considered asking to mentor me: pastors, women usually a few years older who were in the next stage of life and could walk me through the rest of my 20’s. But you know what the next stage of life is? Babies. And babies take a lot of time and energy, which means that woman probably doesn’t want to take on the added responsibility of mentoring a young woman. If I had felt that one of those women really cared about me, or even if one of them had checked in on me and sent me a random message to say they were praying for me, I would have asked one of them. But that didn’t happen. And I felt very alone.
Fast forward to February and I was sitting in a prayer ministry session. When I walked in, I told the woman leading the session that I wanted to pray for a mentor. It was nearly a year of serious prayer on the subject and I was feeling a bit defeated–I still couldn’t think of anyone who “made sense.” We started praying together and when the woman lead me through the prayer, we asked God to give me a name and to give me the courage to ask.
I will not lie: in that moment GOD GAVE ME A NAME! God gave me the name of the woman leading me in that prayer session: Katie.
I was hesitant: it wasn’t that I didn’t like her, I thought she was amazing. I appreciated what she did through prayer ministry and saw her as a picture of what I would want to be in the future–in tune with God and making a difference in others lives. But we didn’t know each other very well and she wasn’t someone I saw in my day to day life. In fact, I only saw her once a year in February when I participated in prayer ministry sessions. It seemed silly to ask, and I honestly almost didn’t. It was the next day at the conference we were at that I worked up the courage at the last minute. I had one moment–she and her husband were leaving and I sprang the question on her. I don’t even know if she had the opportunity to think about it before she said yes. We exchanged email addresses and a few days later I received an email asking me what would be most helpful to me in a mentorship.
The first few months, we exchanged a few emails and I wondered if I had done the right thing. I wondered if an email relationship was the best way to have a mentor and whether she had really wanted to be a mentor. Deep down, I was afraid she had felt caught in the moment and unable to say a young woman, probably sporting a puppy-dog face and hope in her eyes.
God has used this mentorship in a way I could never had possibly known would happen. I am now trained in prayer ministry and a part of Katie’s team. I’ve spent more time with her in-person this year then I would have ever been able to predict. I’ve been able to talk to her about the real, deep things in my life and spiritual walk and receive prayer and support and advice. It’s been unexpected and amazing and helpful, and totally a God-thing.
Then BONUS! God provided another woman in my life as a mentor! Her name is Linda, and we work in the same building. I remember when I realized how much I trusted and respected her. We were sitting on a beach at a conference Bible study (yeah, I go to a LOT of conferences and events each year!) when the leader of the Bible study told us to go up to someone and give them encouragement, and not just one or two words, but 3 or 4 sentences to really encourage one another. Linda came to me, tears in her eyes, and told me how much I meant to her. And it clicked! In the two months since that day, I’ve confided in her things that I couldn’t tell other people and recieved wonderful insight and prayer support. I know that Linda cares for me, and even now, as she’s away from the office for awhile, I’ve received beautiful emails of encouragement and support from her and see her as a pastor and friend.
I had to be patient, but God knew His timing and His perfect plan. All I had to do was patiently wait and pray. I didn’t always trust Him, especially when the “ideal” mentor never seemed to work out. But today I thank Him for the two beautiful, loving, encouraging women He has put in my life.
What are you praying for? Can I pray for you and your mentor or current lack-thereof? I can promise that when you ask, God will answer. And when we ask for something that is helpful and meaningful to our lives, just as a father provides the best gifts to his children, God wants to provide you that gift.