Yazmin lingered in the pews at the back of our church sanctuary, chatting with a friend as she bounced her baby boy, who was just a couple of months old at the time. I knew her from our mom’s group and as a leader in our church’s Spanish service and youth group.
I had just finished emceeing a two-day conference on the theme of discipleship, and as I approached her, she greeted me with a warm smile and dark chocolate eyes.
After a pregnant pause, she said almost apologetically, “I’ve been wanting to ask you something. Would you consider being my mentor?”
The words stopped me in my tracks.
I asked her more about what she desired. She explained she was a new mama and leader and longed for someone a little bit farther down the road to process life and ministry and provide wisdom and accountability.
I thought about the women who had mentored me over the years. Our pastor’s wife Michelle had welcomed me to her Bible study group when I was an uncertain, nursing mother. She’d make me lunch in her home, impart wisdom from God’s Word, and eventually empower me to lead a Bible study group of my own. My thoughts skipped to my friend Serena, who had prayed for me through the years, speaking life-giving words over my leadership and helping care for my daughters.
I didn’t feel particularly wise or ready to be a mentor at that moment, but I said yes to Yazmin. Saying yes was simply answering the call to go with her down the road God was leading her. She needed a friend and a prayer partner.
The first time we met, we hung out at In-n-Out Burger with her sweet, brown-haired boy cooing in his baby carrier. Our mentorship was birthed over Double-doubles and French fries.
That was more than five years ago.
Now, we call on the Holy Spirit together, while folding laundry or making guacamole. I often invite her to “go with” me in ministry. She’s been there when I’ve spoken at churches and conferences and has served on my leadership teams.
In turn, Yazmin has invited me to “go with” her on a journey of healing — mentoring her through a 12-step program and even coaching her to the finish line of a few half marathons.
I never imagined where God would take us and our friendship, but Yazmin has become one of my dearest friends and confidantes. God brought both of us through some very painful and challenging seasons. He also ushered us into seasons of flourishing in leadership and life.
She’s one of the few people who consistently showed up for me during the pandemic. Whether we sipped hibiscus tea sitting in lawn chairs in my driveway or met socially-distanced at a local coffee shop, we continued to do life together. She’s ministered to me as much as I’ve mentored her.
My relationship with Yazmin reminds me of the story of Deborah, the only female judge in Israel’s history. Deborah was a boss lady, who shattered the stereotypes about women in leadership during her day. She was a prophetess, judge, mentor, spoken word artist, friend, and wife.
Deborah understood the power of “going with” someone.
In Judges 4, Deborah summoned Barak and gave him a word from the God of Israel. She confirmed that God wanted him to take 10,000 warriors to Mount Tabor to defeat Sisera, the commander of the enemy army. She basically challenged him by asking, “Didn’t the Lord tell you to do this?”
Barak replied, “I will go, but only if you go with me.”
Deborah agreed to go with him, and though Barak hesitated, Deborah exhorted him. Her presence gave him the confidence he needed to move forward in what God was commanding him to do. The Bible tells us Deborah was with Barak every step of the way, reminding him of God’s presence on the journey.
Deborah was God’s messenger of encouragement and strength. Her wisdom and voice empowered individuals and armies.
As we read in her song in Judges 5, Deborah owned who she was and who God had called her to be. She led the people in worship, bringing glory to God and praising Barak and Jael, the woman who actually killed Sisera.
More than a thousand years later, God sent His Son to earth. They called Him Immanuel, meaning “God with us.” Jesus came to earth to be with us and to lead us — from the cross, to resurrection, to eternal life.
Friend, you don’t have to be in an official mentoring capacity to be used by God. You simply have to “go with” the person He calls you to invest in. This is a gift we can offer each other.
Maybe He’s calling you to “go with” your daughter and offer her wisdom and encouragement.
Maybe He’s calling you to lead your organization and “go with” your team in a new direction.
Maybe your husband needs you to “go with” him and pray over him.
Maybe you can “go with” your sister in Christ, who is learning to rise up and voice her story.
Whoever it is, let’s aspire to be mentors, leaders, and friends like Deborah, like Jesus, whose with-ness empowers us to do the same for others.
Who is God calling you to “go with” today?
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Sue Afutu says
Awesome insight,it’s a fresh perspective on informal mentoring. Thank you Dorina
Mari Tuten says
I love this!