“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2:3-4 (NIV)
Today I have the privilege of sitting at my desk working, listening to my oldest babysit two adorable children from our church while her younger brother has fun playing with them for the day, too. It’s a win-win. She is earning money through a summer job and her brother gets to hang out with someone his age for the day.
Earlier today I spent time praying with my sister-in-Christ who is slightly older than I, yet much, much wiser. I ask for spiritual advice on a regular basis and she gladly gives it, being slightly ahead of me in experience and age. I also spent the morning walking with another group of friends of whom I’m slightly older than most and at times offer encouragement from the perspective of having already experienced some things since I’m older than they.
As I’m sitting here listening to the girl use the walkie-talkie with the boys, I can hear my daughter in the background “mentoring” her. The little girl’s conversation centers on emotionally connecting while the boys responses center on facts and actions. Conversations little girls have are practice sessions of conversations women end up having with their husbands. And while my daughter isn’t married yet, she has a decade more experience than the little girl she’s babysitting and is able to offer helpful hints with her attempts of connecting with her brother and friend to receive the most positive response.
Just like my mentor offered encouragement to me this morning, and I hope I was encouraging to my walking friends as well, our daughter is continuing the tradition and speaking encouragement into another female’s life. Being in the observer’s chair, I love listening how encouragement, when offered in love – not forced or demanded to be followed – helps model Biblical principles and love to the next generation.
Today that encouragement and mentorship has been shown through a variety of methods: prayer together, a suggestion here or there of a different way to say things, a pat on the shoulder, an encouraging word or showing love through braiding her hair.
That’s what we’re called to here on this earth: building relationships. Those relationships take on different forms with different people but they should have all the same underlying theme: love for another. More than anything, I want to always be teachable, to receive another’s encouragement, and ask for wisdom from someone I respect who has already been through the stage I’m now entering. And I want to be that for another – offering encouragement, not forcing my opinion, on stages I’ve successfully completed or am further down the path than others in order to help them avoid mistakes I made. And I learned through a simple summer day, mentors and encouragement can start at and is appreciated, at any age – whether 5, 15, 35, 46, or 60. We each have something to offer others of value.
© 2018 Cheri Swalwell