I was there to give. To serve. It was our first leadership meeting of the year after a brief hiatus, during which I’d had my first child. Bleary-eyed and utterly befuddled by the newness of parenting, I questioned the wisdom of my participation on the leadership team.
The challenges of being a mother had caused me to feel less capable in other areas of my life, as well.
As our morning progressed through team building and planning exercises, I grew aware of a need for a friend—a mentor—to journey with me. Someone for whom the waters in which I was sailing weren’t uncharted. The women gathered in the room possessed both the wisdom and the heart to fill that newly discovered need. But, as servants already giving themselves to our shared labor, how could any of them possibly have the time?
One woman was new to me and to the team, but her contributions to the conversation over the course of our morning had revealed a depth that I craved. Afraid I’d never ask if I didn’t do it immediately, I summoned the courage.
My approach was unadorned: “I know we don’t really know each other, but I’ve just realized how much I need a mentor. Would you consider it?”
Though understandably surprised, her response was graceful and indicative of the way she would walk alongside me in the years to come: “Nobody’s ever asked me that before. I’m humbled. Let me pray about it.” A short week later, she enthusiastically folded me into her life.
Over the coming months we got to know each other. She accommodated my needs as a young mother, visiting during naps or joining me for a walk with my daughter. I shared whatever issue was plaguing me that week, whether mothering, marriage, money, friendship, or faith. She listened; I felt heard and cared for by her attentiveness to the expression of my heart.
Often, she’d then relate a similar experience from her own life, which not only equipped and encouraged me to meet that challenge, but also allowed me to know her. Yet what stands out most from those conversations was that she always pointed me toward God through a relevant verse or Biblical vignette.
Our walks and talks continued over the course of years. She called me faithfully every week, remembering what we’d last discussed, asking for updates. She sent cards and notes of affirmation. She prayed for me. She introduced me to historical and contemporary Christian thinkers like Ironside, Spurgeon, and Stedman, sowing wisdom in the soil of my heart.
A few years later, I was tapped for a new leadership position in the very organization in which we’d met.
The position was one for which I felt insufficient—too young, too immature, too much a sinner. I processed this opportunity aloud with her, giving voice to my fears. In response, she made a poignant case for why I’d been asked to begin with, expressing confidence in me, in the women who’d asked me, and, most importantly, in the God who enlivens His gifts in our lives to accomplish His purposes.
Her investment in me over the years not only enriched my life day-to-day but also emboldened me to take on a new challenge by reminding me of God’s power at work through His people. That position ushered in one of the most growth-full seasons of my life.
I feel overwhelmingly the beneficiary of our friendship, though she’d gracefully say that she, too, received. She has loved me, and my spouse and children, through some of our darkest hours, offering her resources—both practical and spiritual—at great sacrifice. When I reflect on how we first met, I can’t help but smile when I realize that it was because I’d gone to the meeting that day… to serve, to give.
Perhaps this is a small glimmer of what Jesus meant when He said these words:
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Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38)