Mentoring? I never planned it or to become a writer or speaker, much less go into ministry!
But isn’t that just like the Lord to direct us onto the paths He wants us to go? And we have a choice whether to follow Him or go our own direction. In my thirties, I chose my own path, but the Lord guided me back. I rededicated my life, and His prodigal daughter returned with all my heart. Little did I know the plans He had for me.
Soon I was attending Fuller Theological Seminary getting a Masters of Arts in Christian Leadership while managing an insurance agency. I prayerfully attended a Women in Ministry Conference, hoping the Lord would reveal where He wanted to use me when I completed seminary–as long as it wasn’t working with women. Since I also had an MBA, I felt sure it would be in business. Trying to create my own path again.
The Lord did speak to me, but not how I expected. I was enjoying a cup of coffee, waiting for the evening’s worship and teaching to begin when I heard a voice . . . “Go, and feed My sheep.” I looked around, but no one was speaking to me. I thought, “What sheep? Where? And what would I feed them if I found them?” Again, “Feed My sheep.” I muttered, “OK.” then spent the rest of the evening wondering what I had just agreed to do.
I couldn’t wait to call my husband and excitedly share what I heard from the Lord. My godly husband suggested we pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal the meaning of “Feed My sheep.”
The next morning, the workshop instructor taught from John 21:15-17 where Jesus tells Peter, feed My sheep. Her topic was “Shepherding Women in Your Church.” The Holy Spirit was answering our prayer. But women, Lord?!
Returning home, I asked everyone to pray for me to find my sheep and for direction as to what to feed them when I found them. The first sheep bleat came from a business associate asking me to mentor her. I didn’t have a clue what “mentoring” meant, so I read the late Lucibel Van Atta’s Women Encouraging Women and learned it was simply sharing my life experiences—the good and the bad—and God’s faithfulness through it all. I wondered if perhaps feed My sheep might mean mentoring women?
Soon I was also mentoring a young woman from my daughter’s small group. Seemed like enough “sheep.” But then a life-altering encounter happened. The Lord divinely placed the Pastor to Young Adults at Saddleback Church and me simultaneously at the gym. I worked out daily, but this was the only time I ever saw Pastor Brad there. As we chatted, he mentioned that many women in his young adults’ group were asking where they could find a mentor.
As if God was sitting on my shoulder, I suddenly poured out my “feed My sheep” story. Pastor Brad said he thought I should start a mentoring ministry at Saddleback Church, not just mentor two mentees. What!? I wasn’t equipped to start a mentoring ministry. I had to read a book to figure out how to mentor. I did meet with the Pastor to New Ministries, who agreed with Pastor Brad and handed me a “12-Step Planning Guide to Developing a Ministry at Saddleback.” With both pastors’ encouragement, I began going through the process of starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry.
The Lord blessed our mentoring ministry and other churches started calling asking how they could start one. I couldn’t tell them everything over the phone, so I resigned from my career, and wrote a Kit that churches could use to start a mentoring ministry.
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Titus 2:3-5
Today, God has taken the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry into churches around the world through the DVD Leader’s Kit, Woman to Woman Mentoring How to Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry. I continue to have the opportunity to share Woman to Woman Mentoring through my speaking and writing ministry, About His Work Ministries. I had no idea “feeding sheep” would go beyond Saddleback Church—even to international sheep.
Woman to Woman Mentoring is the Lord’s ministry following His mandate in Titus 2:1-8: one generation of Christian men and women must teach and train the next generations. When I let God guide me, He allowed me to participate in something much bigger than I ever imagined.
He changed my heart. He gave me a passion for the issues women deal with and wisdom in helping them turn to the Lord and to each other to navigate life’s seasons and to write nineteen books. My latest is a twenty-year celebration of all God has taught me about mentoring, Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, a book for both mentors and mentees in every season of life from tweens to twilight,
It’s been twenty-two years since I heard “Feed My sheep,” and I’m still feeding and mentoring them as the Lord leads.
Who are you mentoring and who is mentoring you through a new life season?
Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness releases today 9/12/17 and is available at all online bookstores, Christian bookstores, and signed at author’s website.
Visit Janet at: womantowomanmentoring.com / www.facebook.com/Janetthompson.authorspeaker / http://www.linkedin.com/in/womantowomanmentoring / www.pinterest.com/thompsonjanet / https://twitter.com/AHWministries