My granddaughter’s ponytail falls in blonde ringlets, and her wardrobe manifests all the many moods of pink and frilly. Having been a girl of a very different stripe, and then having raised four rowdy sons, I am in quiet awe of her unmitigated girliness. Together, we have made jam, blown bubbles, and painted messy pictures. We have (painstakingly!) decorated cookies and read stacks of books, every single activity serving as a rung on the latticework of relationship, and so intentional.
I want to earn the right to speak truth into her life. More than the tried and true practice for creating the perfect pie crust, I want to walk beside her into adulthood, sharing what I have learned of biblical wisdom and encouraging her to live out the fruit of the Spirit.
This living alongside another with intentional truth-telling is the heart of mentoring, and in Growing Together: Taking Mentoring beyond Small Talk and Prayer Requests, Melissa Kruger employs the vivid metaphor of one tree standing beside another, a young tree tethered to a much older tree–“one that is sturdy and strong, standing straight… to offer support and strength to prevent the younger tree from growing askew.” (LOC 120)
Strength the older tree has gained from withstanding years of wind and storms allows it to offer stability to the younger tree, just by standing straight and strong beside it. In the life of my family, with my readers, and with the women of my church, I want to practice this faithful “standing beside ministry,” offering the strength God has built into me through years of quiet growth.
The Gift of a Rope
Mentoring is a discipleship relationship that focuses on equipping younger believers for the work of ministry so that they grow in maturity and unity in the faith with the ultimate goal of glorifying God.”
Although her work provides principles along the way and makes a strong case for mentoring, Kruger’s main focus is to provide content for spiritual conversations. She extends the gift of a rope in her writing, a tethering tool and a practical guide for helping a godly mentor hit the high points on a roadmap for faithful living. While it is true that Christianity is more than a codified system of beliefs, it is also true that scriptural content is absolutely essential to living a life pleasing to God.
So often, young women become discouraged, feeling that older women are unwilling to make themselves available for a mentoring relationship. If lack of confidence is the reason for the reluctance, Growing Together takes the pressure off the mentor by providing a guide and by challenging readers to throw off the need to be “resident expert” and, instead, to be learners together. Best of all, each chapter focuses on one very specific area and then follows up with questions for discussion.
Mentoring is true spiritual work, and we are not in control of the results. To extend the metaphor of the tethered trees, “one tree cannot make another tree grow. It simply stands beside a younger tree and offers its strength for a season.” My own spiritual batteries were recharged in this initial reading of Kruger’s fine resource, and I look forward to tackling it again, sharing the content with others, and standing alongside them in their growth process.
If you have been thinking about mentoring someone, be encouraged by Paul’s admonition in Titus 2 to “teach what is good”–the importance of the Word of God, evangelism, prayer, contentment, stewardship, Christian service… and if your granddaughter is only three, how to accurately measure all that sugar for her favorite strawberry jam, because it’s all good.
Many thanks to Crossway for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase Growing Together, simply click on the title, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
More Mentoring Resources
Table Mentoring: A Simple Guide to Coming Alongside by Sue Moore Donaldson. Too, her website is a continual fire hose of inspiration for mentoring and hospitality. Click here to read my review.
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