Counselor, Mentor, Friend:
Are you upholding the sufficiency of Scripture? Are you thinking Biblically about the people you are helping and their circumstances? Are you applying the Gospel to their sin and their suffering?
Sometimes I feel like a fish swimming upstream where Biblical Counseling and Mentoring is concerned. I imagine other Biblical Counselors or those in any type of helping ministry feel this way from time to time, too. It can be a lonely calling.
Come to think of it, I think Christians in general feel like fish swimming upstream in our current culture. Jesus even specifically said it would be this way. In John 15:19, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” God said the world would hate us!
I’m not primarily talking about believers in our culture. I am talking about being a Biblical Counselor within the CHURCH culture, a Biblical Counselor among other believers. I am blessed to attend a local church that preaches a clear Gospel and that supports me as I serve the body of Christ as a counselor and mentor trainer in my church as well as in other local churches and online. Know that I am not in any way coming against my own local church or any particular church. By the contrary, I am referring to the church-at-large, wherever this applies.
As I read books, follow blogs, listen to speakers, listen to conversations, and observe the body of Christ in action, I cannot help but notice how often what is being said or promoted is outside of the sufficiency of Scripture. I believe wholeheartedly in the sufficiency of Scripture, and the more I have grown passionate about this the more sensitive I am to the things people say that puts limits on God’s Word. Especially when it comes to helping people who are hurting. Secular, humanistic philosophies and methods have crept in to the church where they do not belong.
You have probably seen video of salmon as they swim upstream. They have to swim against currents, through rapids, and up waterfalls. The fish are aiming towards the goal of spawning to create a new generation. It takes every bit of strength they have. If they make it to the goal and complete their task, they soon die. Sounds a bit like a picture of the Christian life! And the life of someone who is dedicated to helping hurting people and raising up a new generation of believers who adhere to the sufficiency of Scripture.
The goal of all believers, and the goal of Biblical Counseling and Mentoring is the same as God’s goal for His people – to become like Jesus. Romans 8:29 says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…”
Pursuing Christlikeness in our current culture is like the salmon facing many obstacles on its journey, obstacles that want to take it in another direction entirely. At times, Biblical Counseling faces the same dynamic as it comes up against the obstacles of secular and humanistic ideas that have become common in our churches, especially in areas of caring for the hurting.
I did a little online research about the salmon’s trek upstream, and noted that sometimes a salmon will hide behind a rock where the current is calm, so that it can rest up for the remainder of the journey. When we are swimming upstream against a culture that denies the sufficiency of Scripture we, too, can stop and rest up for the remainder of the journey. We must rest to reflect on God’s good provision and love for us, which empowers us to press on. It is a long journey and it will do us well to rest. As Jesus says in Mark 6:31, “And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’”
There is an important difference between Christians and the salmon, and this is where our analogy breaks down. A salmon only has itself and its own determination and instinct to get to the goal. We have a Savior in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit empowers us, and God has promised to complete the work He began in us.
When I am discouraged about the upstream swim ahead of me, I remind myself of God’s faithfulness provided in The Gospel. We do not have to rely on our determination, stamina, or will. We can rely on Him Who saves.
Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Counselors and mentors, everyone: fine tune your radar and start to notice how often unbiblical advice is given. Sometimes, you and I may feel as if we are swimming upstream when others do not seem to notice that something unbiblical is being offered up as helpful. We must be sure we are thinking Biblically! And we must be sure to apply the Gospel to both the sin and the suffering in each other’s lives. Doing so will potentially cause others to swim upstream alongside us. That would be a lot less lonely!
Please visit www.wordofhopeministries.com for more information about the ministry of Biblical Counseling.
In my experience with training women to become Biblical Mentors, I have held conversations with women about the reasons why they do not mentor the younger generation.
The most common responses are:
Fear of not having anything to offer.
Fear of man (insecurity).
Fear of failure.
Fear of not knowing how to help with deeper life struggles.
Fear of not knowing God’s Word well enough.
Fear of causing more harm than good.
Fear of being transparent.
Fear of giving bad advice.
On the flip side, I have also had many conversations with younger women in the church about the reasons why they do not have a mentor, or why they do not seek out a mentor.
Their most common responses are:
Fear of bothering or burdening someone.
Fear of man (insecurity).
Fear of failure.
Fear that others will not understand her deeper struggles.
Fear that the advice will not be Biblical.
Fear that she won’t be able to follow through.
Fear of being transparent.
Fear that the women they seek out will not be a good match.
God’s Word has much to say about fear. There is one type of fear that is beneficial and encouraged - the fear of the Lord. This is the reverence for a holy God, the respect for His power, the awe of his glory, and the knowledge of his wrath. (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 19:23; Proverbs 14:27; Proverbs 14:26). There is another type of fear that is to our detriment, and that is something for women to overcome. This fear holds us back from serving God’s people effectively.
The Bible calls it the “spirit of fear” in 2 Timothy 1:7. The verse says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV). A spirit of fearfulness and timidity does not come from God.
As we approach our mentoring relationships, we must be sure that the Gospel informs how we proceed. Where there is fear, love is set aside. This is an issue of the heart, and both mentors and mentees will need to do some heart-work in order for the mentoring relationship to be fruitful.
If fear is our ruling force, we will not be able to fulfill God’s command in the second chapter of Titus to teach the younger and be taught by the older. The good news is that there is a remedy for our fear: The Gospel.
To overcome the spirit of fear, we need to trust in and love God completely. 1 John 4:18 describes, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Only by understanding and believing the clear Gospel message can we trust in and love God completely. We cannot muster up this kind of love on our own, so it must be God’s love for us, God’s love in us, and God’s love pouring out of us that allows more experienced women to engage in healthy relationships with less experienced women.
Scripture is full of “fear not” verses. If fear is holding you back from serving God faithfully, look up these and other Scriptures that speak to our fears: Isaiah 41:10, Matthew 10:31, Psalm 56:11, Job 13:15, and there are so very many more. Using an online Bible verse site and searching the word “fear” will draw up more examples to aid in discovering God’s plan for you.
By receiving The Gospel for salvation and then applying it to our sanctification, we will be able to learn to put all our trust in God. Only then will we no longer be afraid of the things that hold us back.
If you have a heart to mentor or to be mentored, but fear is holding you back, I encourage you to do a bit of heart work and ask The Lord to show you His love for you so that you will be motivated to love him back completely. Only that relationship between you and Jesus will help you to move past your fears and begin to fulfill the command in Titus 2:3-5 to teach the younger women and to be a younger woman being taught by an older woman.
Mentoring relationships are a beautiful, Biblical thing that is beneficial to all of us. If you don’t have one, I encourage you to both serve and be served as mentors and mentees in the body of Christ for your benefit and for God’s glory!
To learn more about becoming equipped as a Biblical Mentor, please visit www.biblicalmentor.com where you can find training and resources to assist you in your mentoring relationships.
TITUS 2:3-5 “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”
I have the great privilege of being a mentor to several younger women. It has become a passion of mine to encourage women to mentor the younger generation of women and girls.
Of course it does not necessarily take a certified Biblical counselor to address the needs of the younger generation. I do believe that Biblical Counselors are uniquely qualified and positioned to address deeper discipleship needs and life struggles, but so many of people’s problems can be walked through with a gifted and equipped Mentor.
I have engaged in intergenerational relationships intentionally over the past few years. God has blessed this in my ministry, and I have seen the fruit of fulfilling my own Titus 2:3-5 calling. If you are not spending some intentional time with women from generations other than your own, you are missing the mark. I believe Titus 2:3-5 is not just a suggestion - it is a command.
As I write this, I have asked God to break your heart. He has broken mine - for the things that break His. My heart breaks for hurting younger women - women who have suffered from difficult circumstances, women who suffer from mental illness, women caught up in the bondage of sin and its consequences. My heart breaks for girls - girls who are from broken homes, girls who carry shame from bad choices, girls who feel lonely and insecure, girls who have no one to teach them about Jesus.
In order to mentor well, your heart must be broken first. You need only to look around your church to see women and girls who need a Word of hope. Do not be fooled by outward appearances - shame, loneliness, guilt, suffering, and sin like to hide behind a facade. If you are a Christian who can articulate a clear Gospel, with the understanding that it applies not just to salvation but also to sanctification, you are able to share a Word of hope with a hurting woman. In fact, you are called to it.
Once your heart is broken, remember The Gospel and all that God has provided for hope and healing. He binds up the brokenhearted and sets the captives free. I want to be in on that Good News, don’t you? What a privilege it is to walk alongside another and see what HOPE God provides for her.
Everyone is a younger woman AND an older woman at the same time (unless you happen to be the rare woman who is the oldest and wisest in your sphere of influence!) I once asked a group of 40 women of all ages at a retreat to write on two notecards. One card was to be addressed to the older women (all 40 did this, even the oldest women who felt that some of the others were more spiritually mature even if not chronologically older). We called these older women the “Big Sisters.” As they addressed the older women, they were to tell them what they would like to learn from them.
The second card was to be addressed to the younger women. Again, all 40 women did this because everyone has someone who is younger than they are. We called these younger women the “Little Sisters.” They were to give a Word of hope or advice to the younger women.
The insights from this retreat activity were more profound than I expected. It broke my heart all over again for the younger generation of women, and it also confirmed my passion to serve them, especially the hurting. We displayed these cards throughout the retreat, but there were a few cards handed to me privately by women who asked that they not be displayed in that context. I have changed slightly the quotes in order to protect their privacy, but the insights are intact.
This is just a small sampling of those insights in hopes that it will spark a desire in you to consider the ministry of Biblical Mentoring. I will not be commenting on these insights, because I think that they speak for themselves.
May God break your heart for what breaks His.
These messages were written as older women to the Little Sisters.
“To My Little Sisters” ~
*”Fall in love with Jesus. You are not alone. You have Our Lord with you at all times. You also need to build a relationship with a Big Sister who can show you how to grow up and walk faithfully with Jesus.”
*”Find your beauty, confidence, self-worth, and esteem from God alone.”
*”I don’t think I have much to offer you. I don’t have a big testimony, and I don’t feel adequate to help you with your life’s struggles. I am so sorry.”
*Your identity is in Christ and His love and sacrifice. That’s much more important that any self esteem.”
*”I once had an abortion and I’ve never told anyone. If you have had one, please tell an older woman and ask her to help you to heal.”
*”Forgive us for judging you. We, too, have our insecurities. Just ask us about that.”
*”You will never regret your life, if it is spent following Jesus and seeking His face.”
*”Don’t rush through the seasons of your life. They are meant to be enjoyed.”
*”Don’t be afraid to come right out and ask me for what you desire from me.”
*”Ask me those taboo questions. I won’t be shocked, I’ve had them too.”
*”I really do want to spend time with you. I’ve just been afraid to ask. I am afraid you will reject me.”
Written as younger women to the Big Sisters:
“To My Big Sisters” ~
*”Be a good listener and encourage me.”
*”I am afraid of how the older generation will judge me because of my past. How do I get over that insecurity?”
*”You seem very busy. I hate to take up your time. I don’t think I am worth it.”
*”Teach me how to love someone who says they don’t love the Lord anymore.”
*”How do I move on from my mistakes?”
*”I feel like I am all alone. I am afraid to approach you.”
*”How do I trust God with my children who don’t want to follow Him?”
*”I need encouragement through many trials. Please help me.”
*”How can I keep my marriage alive?”
*”I made shameful mistakes in my past that I am afraid to share. Can I trust you?”
*”Why is it that no matter how much we know God, we continue to doubt His purpose for our lives?”
*”Please remind me in all my daily struggles how to keep my eyes on the cross and for all that I do and say to be Gospel-centered.”
*”I want to hear your life story. I know you have wisdom. Please share it with me.”
More of these insights can be found in various resources on Word Of Hope Ministries’ Biblical Mentoring site at www.biblicalmentor.com. Please visit to learn more about becoming equipped to serve through intentional intergenerational relationships!