Written by Katie Orr.
I wish I had a mentor.
I’ve heard that statement from many women. I’ve uttered those words myself. Most of us have a deep-down desire to be intentionally poured into. We sense our great need for change and feel helpless to invoke it on our own. Yet we also hold with this desire an unrealistic expectation of what the mentor-mentee relationship should look like. For me, it’s often been dreamt of as a weekly, 2-hour time together with hot coffee, freshly-baked blueberry scones, time in the Word, prayer, and an intense time of coaching. I’m always the teachable, eager disciple. She’s always the loving yet firm truth-teller.
Who knows, maybe this sort of relationship does exist, but I’ve not experienced it personally. There is nothing wrong with that situation (if it indeed does exist); however, there is danger in holding to this as the mentoring ideal. Mainly because it blinds me from seeing the mentors I had right in front of me. For too long, I assumed that mentoring would come primarily through one soul. Looking back, I see that God instead (and in His wisdom) has sent me multiple mentors throughout every step of my spiritual journey who have each uniquely shaped me into who I am today.
- My parents, Jim and Donna, who sacrificed to send me to Christian private school so I could learn about God, and who drove me all over town so I could attend children’s ministry, youth group, and various other activities that laid a gospel foundation for all God had planned for me.
- Judy Crewell, our neighbors and carpool-friends, who intentionally and regularly took time to tell us kids about the love and forgiveness of Jesus.
- Cynthia Seeger, the super-cute young mom who helped her husband lead the small youth group I attended. She got to know us, loved on us, and pointed us to Jesus when we barely knew which side was up, spiritually speaking.
- The teacher in high school (I don’t even remember her name…) who one year invited a few girls to meet in her office once a week to go over The Navigator’s discipleship materials.
- Josh Long, a friend who had the guts and love to confront me my senior year of high school when my sinful choices were getting out of control. He called me out and up to a higher standard of integrity as a leader who claimed the name of Christ.
- Mia Murphree, a junior in college, who led a freshman girls’ Cru Bible study. I showed up having zero clue how far from knowing Jesus I really was. Through her group, I quickly realized that I knew all about Jesus, but I didn’t know Jesus. I had salvation, but I didn’t have a daily, intimate relationship with God. Mia’s faithful service through praying for, loving on, challenging, and teaching me every week for several years has brought much change and fruit in to my spiritual life.
- Ruth Rhea, a Cru staff member, who entrusted me with a stack of response cards to follow-up on. I was just learning how to walk with God, yet she invited me into Kingdom work before I even knew exactly what God’s Kingdom was all about. For years, Ruth pursued me, checked in on me, prayed for me, and saw Kingdom potential in me I never would have believed was there.
- Bill and Julie Bolt and Scott and Katrina Moffatt, two couples who have faithfully served college students for decades. Beyond benefitting from their discipleship efforts as Cru staff members, getting to watch how they loved on their kids, involved them in missions through prayer, and lived a missional lifestyle as a family still shapes my own parenting journey.
- Kathy Bourque, my pastor’s wife before I myself became one. As a busy homeschooling mom of 6, she made time to hang out with me several times. I still go back to many nuggets of wisdom shared with me through our conversations.
- Kristen Snow, my parallel friend who has faithfully prayed for, listened to, and spoken truth to me for over 15 years. Though our growth and stages of life have mirrored one another’s for years, we are very different people. This sporadic, loud-mouth bulldozer consistently learns from her gentle, quiet, intentional spirit.
- Kathy Litton, who I worked for and got to watch for 5 years. I observed how she balances the complexities of life as a high-profile ministry leader while also being an involved pastor’s wife—all the while consistently prioritizing and loving on her family.
- My husband, Chris, whose servant leadership, excellence in preaching, and daily integrity shapes my walk with God as well as my own ministry.
I know I’m missing many more who belong on this list—not including all the books I’ve read from those long-gone whose gospel-centered teachings and missional life examples have shaped the trajectory of my own. So, while I haven’t had the 2-hour, candle-lit sessions with the same person for years on end, I have been the recipient of much mentorship over the years. From a simple sentence stated, a note of encouragement, a hard conversation, or the testimony of a life well-lived, I have been mentored by many.
My guess is, you have been, too.
Who are your mentors? And how can you thank them?