Okay, Melissa, I am so excited today for you to talk to listeners about your heart behind your new book, growing together, taking mentoring beyond small talk and prayer request. And that has to be one of the best subtitles I've heard in a long time. So tell us all about the book. I'm well, thank you. Um, um, I'm so excited about it actually.
Um, it's been a book that has been on my heart for about 10 years, and I think the outline for the book has been on my computer for about six years. And so I've been so glad to finally get, to have the space and time to write it and really the hope behind it was. Um, I worked in women's ministry at my church for 10 years and what I saw a lot of was women desperate.
Lee wanting to connect with women from other seasons in their life. They wanted to know older women and older women wanted to invest in younger women, but they struggle to know how to do that beyond just getting together for coffee. And so they would get together. They would chat about the weather in life.
But they struggled to kind of take that conversation more towards spiritual growth. I think they both wanted it, but they were finding it hard to get there. And so that's really, what's behind this book is trying to just provide a resource that women can use in mentoring relationships to actually go deeper with one another and have conversations about their prayer life, about evangelism.
About contentment about the things we really want to get to, but sometimes we get to in the last five minutes of the two hour conversation. Exactly. So every time, well, I guess this is the second conversation that we've had really centered around mentorship investing in the next generation, that type of.
Of conversation. And the first time I shared this and I'll share a little bit of it again, the best example of this that I've seen in my own life is a friend that is still, I would still consider her a mentor to me today that I knew back from my time up in Tennessee. And we met in a running club. And somebody introduced us because they had figured out that we both went to the same mega church and we just happen to not have crossed paths yet.
And we started running together and I think there are people who are like inch, inch, wide mile deep people. And I would, I would consider myself that type of person. And so as Gina, and then they're like the mile wide inch deep people. And I think those people. It may be a little bit more difficult for them to get to those conversations like we're talking about, but I feel so fortunate that God led me to Gina and we ran together a ton and she was exactly what you're describing to me.
And it was so special because she was about seven steps ahead of me in life. She's married. She has three. Small girls under the age, at that point in time of about six, they were about six, four and two. So she was in the thick of motherhood. We would run early in the mornings before her people were up and ready.
And it was just so special because for years and years, and again, she still pours it into my life. She walked with me through the darkness of when I was single and I was. Watching all my people get married and she had gotten married later in life. And just really, um, God just really used her to say the hard things to have the hard conversations.
There was like, nothing was off the table with Gina. You know what I mean? And I just, I so value my friendship and my relationship with her, which I think has what has now given me the heart to be that, you know, in, in my own life and now being like a year into it. To marriage. I have a couple of friends who are getting married later in the year, and I just think of conversations that, you know, Gina was willing to have with me that nobody else really wanted to talk about before we got married and just how thankful I am on the other side.
Just to have somebody like that in my life. So I just want to say, I was just really excited to see this book come across my desk because I think it's so needed. And those really deep relationships are so treasured, but they're so rare. Um, but it's not impossible to find. So. That was a long winded segue, but, um, I'm excited hearing that.
I love hearing that. I bet you were a gift to her as well. You're in the young years of motherhood, I can just picture her going out and running with someone who maybe you don't talk about motherhood with. That can be delightful for both people. You know? I mean, so it really is. It's a mutual gift. It's not just.
The older woman, so to speak or the different life stage woman is pouring in important out. Yeah. You both receive as you're giving. Yeah. Beautiful, beautiful thing. I agree. And I think one of the things, and I'm, she knows this as told this to her and I've told this to other people, and this is one thing I hope to model that she really taught me is sure.
She, she shared biblical truth with me. She spoke truth over, over my life and everything. So all the things, however, she didn't hide, Hey Matt. And I've had a really hard week or, you know, I lost it in front of my kids yesterday. And like, here's how I reconciled that, you know, like she, wasn't afraid to. Be vulnerable to me to not create this facade of marriage and motherhood that I think has already perpetuated in society.
She just, she really kind of broke all that, all those walls down for me, which I don't know. I just hadn't had many other friends who were willing to go there with me. And so, so yeah, it, I mean, it goes on both sides, but I was also like you're saying, I think a person that she could come to and like, Openly say like, Hey, last night it was a hard night and none of our kids slept, you know, all those things.
And so it gives you a mutual benefit and you sharing with her. It was really hard to go to the party by myself again, and have no one to sit with. It might make her feel really encouraged that her Pew is full, even though she's having to like deal with spit up and a kid, he threw up on her that you, or whatever, like it can.
By listing to each other. We realize there are blessings in my season and there are hard things in my seat. What you realize is there's no perfect season. And in some ways that reminds us to be thankful for what we have, you know, in each, in each season, by just being in community with one another and listening to one another, it can, you know, Help both of us, so to speak.
So for people kind of dipping their toes into kind of wind to learn more about mentorship type relationships and your opinion, what do you think is kind of the goal of this? So we've talked a little bit about it, but if you were to kind of wrap that up for somebody, you know, before reading the book, what would you say there?
Yeah. And mentorship obviously can take a lot of forms. I mean, you can be mentored at work and you can be mentored and running. So to speak. If you run with someone who's run long distances, you know, all those things, but spiritual mentorship, really the goal is spiritual growth. And so. What I like to say about this is we can have lots of different types of mentors, especially as women in our life.
Like when you're newly married, you want, you might want to be mentored by an older couple. Who's just been married on marriage, or you might want to become mentored by someone on there for your life. There are a lot of different topics in the Christian life that we can be mentor. But I think the ultimate goal is that we're moved further along in the faith.
Yeah. And so we want to, at the end, I don't want any, when I'm mentoring to look more like me. Yeah. I want them to look more like Jesus. And so the goal is not to convince them of my way of doing things, but to help them in their life. Follow Jesus. So that's the ultimate goal. Um, and that really helps on a lot of friends because, you know, there's, there's a lot of pressure.
And sometimes even the mentee, like the person being mentored just wants an answer and I'm not being a really good mentor if I'm just giving her all the answers. I'm, I'm being a better mentor. If I'm pushing her back to God's word and to prayer, and to saying, I will pray with you that the Lord can show you what to do in this circumstance.
So we're helping someone else. Walk with Jesus not being Jesus for them. And so sometimes we want somebody just to tell us what to do. And I actually don't think that's the best role of a mentor. Um, but it might, it might be easier in the short term. Yeah. Oh, I agree. Yeah. And I think if we're in it for the short term sure.
Give, give the person that, all the answers, but for a longterm thing. Yeah. I totally agree with you there. So what are some commonalities that you think you see in terms of what does a healthy mentorship relationship look like? Yeah. I think one of the big things is that it is mutual. And this is where you discussed a little bit about with your friend.
Um, I think it, it should be the time thing. Like if I'm in a mentoring relationship with what someone sure. I'm asking her, how can I pray for you this week? Or how, you know, what are you. Going through, but it should be mutual that she's also asking how can I pray for you? And I should be able to share, Hey, I did get into a fight with my husband this week and I yelled at all my kids.
I'm kind of a mess too, because you need that open and honesty. And actually I think that's the way, in some ways a mentor relationship gives long after. The relationship may not be in the same state or city or whatever, because one day, for instance, you'll have kids and, you know, Lord willing and you'll remember, Oh yes, she dealt with this too.
And it will, it suits your heart in that moment. So I think there's, um, basically there's give and take on both sides. I think what was also healthy is, um, if it's going to be a formal relationship, Like where we say, Hey, let's meet together. I do think is really helpful to figure out a time and a day to me that works for both your schedules, so that the weight of the relationship isn't on one party.
Yeah. Sometimes it's like, Oh, you gotta call me or am I going to call you? And so if you can decide on the front end, Hey, let's meet every Tuesday to go for a walk or let's meet every Thursday night to, to have coffee or let's do it once a month on a Saturday morning and we're going to do something. I think that can really help.
Provide a little structure to the relationship. It doesn't have to be that there's a lot of great informal relationships that happen where women just get coffee. But if you're going to, if you're looking for more kind of, Oh, let's meet on a regular basis with someone, I do think going ahead and setting that up on the front end can kind of help with the health of the relationship because sometimes they devolve into a little awkward.
Hey, we should get together sometime. And everyone's disappointed and the mentor feels like a failure and the mentee feels time with me and it's just awkward. So I think that the more things you can set up, like, what are your expectations? What are you hoping for from this on the front end? I think that's better.
Cause sometimes we just miscommunicate, even in mentoring relationships. Yeah, I agree. And I think it would be a shame to feel those things just as a result of miscommunication, like that's an easy fix and that's an easy thing on the front end that can just avoid a lot of problems later. You know, I think most seasons of my life I've had people like a Gina where.
It's not really been this like formal, like I've, I've said, Hey, I'm, I'm asking you to be my mentor, but people have been, God's just provided. And I've been so blessed to have people just stand in the gap and be that in my life. Um, but I know that, um, you know, different personalities kind of seek that out or don't seek that out in different ways.
And so, um, or naturally more or less drawn to people. Older than them. And so I think all those things are in place. If you are somebody who really kind of needs a framework, that those are some really good things to think about. Um, and kind of on that note, if you are the person being mentored, I think there's probably some things to be aware of.
Think about, pray through there as well. So I'd love to hear your thoughts there. Yeah. So if, if you're the person being mentored, um, I think it's, it's really good not to view the relationship as one sided. Um, so often. I think it's really easy to come into relationship like a mentoring relationship and think she's supposed to be giving everything to me.
Um, come in with your questions. The reality is the older women may have no idea what you actually want from her. And so you providing that direction would be great. So, I mean, it could even start by saying to an older woman who you've. And mired her prayer life. Hey, can we get coffee? And can I just ask you about your prayer life and then come with real questions so that you don't spend an hour talking about the weather and then jump in.
I mean, go ahead and jump in. And she's giving you her time. And even though sometimes older women, you may think, what do they do with their day? I'm sure they're busy. I don't know many people who aren't busy. And so she's giving and wants to give you. Help, but, you know, it's, she also, doesn't only want to be pushy with it.
You know what, let me, let me tell you what you need in your life. Most women aren't like that, but if you ask, Hey, My two year old is not sleeping through the night. Can you help me again? And I will say on that as someone who just had a two year old, because the woman with the 18 year old will not remember how she got rituals.
So there are some things that proximity is really good. There are some things where the age gap is actually better, you know, that it can, it can be helpful, but sometimes it's nice to have someone just one stage ahead of you on certain, on certain questions. But I think I'm asking your mentor, Hey, how can I pray for you?
I have some women who have just done this so well to me, they've entered in to my life and my world and they just come in and they care for me really well, even as. You know, I'm, I'm the older one or in a different life stage or whatever. Um, and that just honestly makes the relationship very natural rather than this once a month for meeting.
And now we talk about you the whole time. It's not a counseling session. And I think healthy is a really good thing. But most mentors aren't equipped to do that. There's that that's not what they're what they're there for. So counseling was great, you know, all of that, but that's not what mentoring really is.
So kind of helpful to distinguish between those. Yeah. Oh, I totally agree. And as you were talking about. Bringing questions that jogged a memory for me. And so I want to share this to you because I think within the context of the church, this is a really great idea. If it spurs this, you know, for you or you think of a Bible study that might be able to do this.
So when I graduated from college, so I lived in a college town, I was in Knoxville for about 10 years and. After I was done with school, I was in this really awesome small group for about five years. That, which is very rare, I will say for agreed to stay together that long, but we all stuck around and one by one, we either moved or got married, but, um, A couple years into that, that group, our leader came to us and she saw this other women's small group in our church who all the women, or kind of similar stage of life.
They were new grandmothers, like very young grandmothers. Um, and they just really had a heart to pour into. Our season of life and they, um, they had came, I think they came to my leader and asked, you know, I don't know what this would look like, but you know, with your girls be interested in it. And so what we did is we spent like a whole night, like a whole session, a small group writing questions for them.
And we, we wrote them in, like we came up with categories and then like within, within prayer. Okay. What do we want to ask them about prayer? Okay. Within marriage, what do we wanna ask them about marriage within like, seeking to become the best future spouse versus like. Looking for a future spouse. What are the things that we want to ask there?
So, I mean, we had so much and for about a year and a half, once a month, they would come and they would lead our small group and we would take one of those topics. And we would just go through question by question and they would divvy out their questions, like in the small group meeting for them prior to coming to us, they would say, okay, they've got five marriage questions.
You know, Robin, you take this one, Sheila, you take this one and they would come prepared like scripture and all Bibles open. Like let's talk about it. And it was the coolest thing we ever did. And we got, we all got so much out of it and we're so thankful for them. So, and that's so great. Then you can follow up with one of them.
Like, it's not this again, awkward. Will you mentor me for the rest of my life? It's almost group mentoring. And I think that is beautiful. Like, I love that. Yeah, that's great. Yeah. And I think we all kind of over time found ourselves kind of drawn to one of them. You know, like there were a couple of times where I met with, um, you know, one of them in particular about a couple of things and, and I know many of the other girls did as well.
And so not only did you get, you know, Kind of that individualized localized mentorship of, you know, over something that you were struggling with, but also just the wisdom, the collective wisdom of all of them. So. You know, if you're listening and you think, huh, we've got a group that might be able to do that or something like that.
It was just a really good example of women just stepping up within the church and saying, Hey, we have the capacity. And we really, we really feel like God is leading us to serve this people group. And so, you know, figure out what that might look like in your own church. But, uh, that was a really special time for us.
So I think another important piece of any relationship I've had in kind of this place is vulnerability. So I would love for you to talk about how do we encourage vulnerability. It's kinda one of those gray areas. You know what I mean of like, how do you talk about how to be vulnerable? Like that's a hard, that's a hard thing.
Right? And so what would you share there on either side of the coin at being a mentor or a mentee about vulnerability? Yeah, I would probably be start with a mentor on that because I do think it is in some ways is up to her to really open the door for you can tell me anything and I'm going to love you no matter what, but also to be vulnerable herself.
Um, and so one of the activities I actually have in the book growing together is called sharing your story. And it just goes through a few questions and you both do it with each other. And, um, and it taught it. I mean, one of the things is what's a sense struggle. You you're fighting on a regular basis and you know, it's going to be different for all of us, but the reality is the apostle Paul.
Was badly in sin. You know what I mean? So if we can, we can realize I'm going to be 80 and the nursing home and still fighting certain sense. And me as a mentor saying to her, I'm still in the battle. It's gonna mean something, you know, she she's being in the battle, says we're alive. And a lot of reason it says there's actually a war between the flesh and the spirit, which is a good sign.
Um, and just being able to have those real honest conversations that we both have struggles. We both have, um, great blessings in our lives, but I think starting there with kind of sharing where we came from, maybe that mentor, that one that you think is so spiritual. Maybe she didn't start walking with the Lord since she was 30, she has a whole past, and she might have things in her story that you'd be shocked to hear, you know?
And I think that can be really helpful to the younger woman. Who's maybe 23 and things. Her life can never be redeemed because some of the choices she made. And so to be able to call back and say, you know, I made some terrible choices and God has redeemed me and he can redeem you. That can be so hopeful and so encouraging along the way.
So I think, um, I think it's necessary and I think it's rooted in the fact. That we never graduate from our need of grace. And so when we both have that humility of, I am messing up today and I'm going to be messing up in 20 years, but by God's grace, I will be walking more deeply with him and loving him more.
Um, That humility to know if I am walking in a manner worthy of the gospel, it's only because of his work in me and not my work in me. And so I think that humility allows her vulnerability because I don't look at a younger woman and say, how does she not have her act together yet? I look at her and say, gosh, you're probably doing a lot better than I was.
So, so there's this, I think, I think having humility on both parts, the humility is share where we're not where we know we might be walking in opposition to God's ways, but also the humility to say, Hey, I, I, I hear you. And I need prayer too on that can really create a relationship where both people can share and no one, no one can be perfect.
So it helps to just acknowledge that on the front end. Yeah, I agree. And I think back to what you said in the beginning about, you know, your goal in mentorship is not to make somebody look more like you, but to look more like Jesus. Well, if that is honestly the truth and you're in a place of humility where you can truly believe that in your heart, then.
That's where I think the vulnerability comes from, right, is in there realizing like this isn't about this. Isn't about me. This isn't about making somebody more into my likeness. And so if I, if my goal is honestly to help them become more like Jesus, then that opens the door for me to feel freedom, to share my past and struggles or things of overcame.
Because in that I became more like Christ and you can too. You know, if somebody is listening to this and they're just thinking, man, I want that, like, I need that in my life. What would you encourage them to do as just some next steps to kind of move towards seeking that out? I would always start with praying to ask the Lord to show you, um, who to even reach out to.
So, and even just telling the Lord, I really want this. Yeah, he hears it. He can make it happen just like he did for you on a running club, you know, but just having the heart that says, Lord, I know I need the assuming going before the Lord and asking him to put us in places. But I also think we can take some proactive steps and one is to choose wisely where you're.
Yeah, investing. So if you look at the church and you say, Hmm, I'm going to join a small group, it might be really tempting to join a small group that has everyone who looks just like you is in your life stage and your, um, You know what doing what you're doing, and that can be really fun. But I also encourage people to say, if you're really serious about this, maybe look for the life group that has a lot of layers.
Yeah. That has single people that has married couples without children that has some grandparents in there whose kids have fun. The nest, like those are some beautiful places of community. Now they're not going to be able to hang out every Friday night. So there are some, yeah. I mean, that's the reality.
But it's, it's great. Cause that's where you might meet those people who could mentor you, or it might be the Bible study at church she joined, or it might be the Sunday school class you choose to go to, or even where you choose to serve in the church. Um, those are great places to be on the lookout. So if you serve in the.
Soup kitchen every week. And you can go with a few other women to do that. Look at the, yeah, those are great times. Um, kind of like your running club, what you're already doing, what do you love to do? And then serve. And often you'll find other older women who are in that same place serving, um, and looking, and then when you locate them, Someone that you think is, wow, wish I could meet with her more regularly.
Just ask her to coffee. Um, and say, can we get coffee? And can we chat about some things? I have some questions I'd love your advice and wisdom or, and so I think that's a really simplistic way rather than, Hey, will you be my mentor, which can be really intimidating to both parties and feel like this. Are we getting married?
How long does it last? Do we need a contract? Whereas. Just a and you know, and if, and then if coffee goes, well, you can say, Hey. Would you read this book with me or would you, you know, I think really being clear about what you want in a relationship can, can help the other person say yes, more easily. Um, and so I would just, again, start with prayer though and asking the Lord, show me, um, uh, want to grow spiritually.
Show me, I'm a person who can do this. And let me say, it's probably not going to be the woman who is teaching the thousand woman Bible study in your church. I just want to encourage you. Look for the woman who might be setting up the chairs quietly or who might be. Just serving so regularly, these women are store houses of wisdom.
And so were the women up there teaching, but so often we're drawn to those women. And honestly, they're normally really busy and everybody thinks they need to mentor them. So, yeah, but look for the women who might be just around, they're going to have more time to invest in you. Um, and they're going to have some humble service that just going to be a huge blessing to learn from.
So I just encourage you. We can, the nooks and crannies. Yes. And you will bless them so much by asking them to invest in you. I mean, that's what we found with that group of women that would come and mentor us. They, I'm not saying at all that they aren't busy because they, man, they helping take care of grandkids and they're running their own house household and all, all the things, but, um, You know, they had the capacity on a Sunday evening after worship service to come for an hour and hang out with us.
And they would say every time, you know, we look so forward to seeing y'all and we always say, you know, every time we leave, we just, we come with a heart, like ready to serve you all. And to be a blessing and we leave feeling so thankful and so blessed by the time we spent with you. So. It just goes back to what we've been talking about.
That it is, it is a two way street when it's done well and right. And it's beautiful. So, yeah. Okay. So there's a question that I ask every guest that comes on the show. It's my favorite question, because everybody's answer is different and that is, what do you think is the best piece of advice anybody's ever given you.
Hmm. I can think of some funny pieces of advice. The best one, the one that's probably stayed with me was from my very first, the woman who first mentored me. Um, and she was a public school teacher and she ran a fellowship of Christian athletes that I was involved in, in high school. And she used to look at all of us who were helping lead the ministry.
And she would say to us, I would rather you be spending time with Jesus than join all the work for Jesus in the world. And it basically, the message that got through to us was don't be up front and doing everything. If you're not on your knees, in your closet quietly on your own. And honestly, I feel like that is the advice that has anchored my soul in as ministry has become increasingly public.
If that makes sense, like, um, That the most important things I'm doing are the things that are never seen by anyone. And I believe that with all my heart, um, the, the time spent in the word and in prayer that is not Instagrammed. It is not shown to others is what is honestly. It is the 80%. The other is just the iceberg, the tip of the iceberg of what you see of someone, but it will never be sustainable without being fully anchored to Christ and fully connected to him.
And so, um, I think about it. All the time it has. Yeah, I was given to me at 14. I'm now 46. So what does that, how many years ago is that? 32. Is that how many? Goodness. That's awesome. Yeah. I still think about it all the time. Um, I still think about it all the time, so it was good advice. Yeah, man. That's so wise.
And I think, you know, there's a, I would say the majority of our listeners are in some form of ministry. Um, whether that be vocational or not. And I think you bring a really good point. It's very easy when you're writing a book or you're preparing content for a podcast, or you're speaking on a stage to.
Excuse the time that you spend in preparation for that as you know, your time with the Lord. And I've been, I've been reminded so many times. And so I'm thankful that you said it again, just the importance of being rooted in his word, just for the sake of. Knowing your father better. And, um, and it's, and it's true as, as ministry grows and as God opens doors and things get busier, um, if we are forever too busy to consistently be in God's word, then we're too busy, you know?
And, um, I think. You know, a lot of things that don't matter in eternity can get in the way of that, like technology and our phones and especially, gosh, especially in this season, Netflix, all the things we can just, we can get so distracted. And I know I've been convicted of that in my own life in the last few months.
And so that's a good reminder. It doesn't surprise me that that has stuck with you for all those years. So this is one of our 12 books of Christmas episodes, which feels crazy to say, because we're recording this pretty far in advance of Christmas, but I can't wait for listeners to. One listen and get their hands on the book.
And we are going to be giving away a copy of all the books that are going to be a part of the 12 books of Christmas. So I am pumped about that, but because listeners are going to be tuning into this during the Christmas season, we're asking everybody in this kind of run of shows. What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
I love this question. Um, I think as I look back, my kids are now. Uh, well, 14, 17 and 20. Oh my goodness. And one of the things I look back on, I'm so glad that we've done is, um, a Jesse tree three year, and I never did this growing up. So Jesse tree basically goes through the story of scripture, starting in Genesis.
And there's a little ornament that your kids get to hang on the tree each day. So you do this for 25 days up to Christmas and Voskamp has some great stuff on it. But what I actually love is my girlfriends and I made all of our ornaments. So each person I made 25 scrolls, somebody else made 25, you know, arcs Noah's are somebody else made 25 apples or whatever.
And so when I look at the tree, not only do I remember those story. Yeah, of, of Christ's birth throughout the whole season, but I also remember my friends and that we had this fun night where we each took one of each other's ornaments. And, um, so it just reminds me both of the community of the church and the good news of the gospel.
And it, it helps. It's just a fun tradition to have with the kids. And it keeps Christmas from all of December focused on Christ and how that story is actually traced all through the Bible and not just in Luke. And so it's really fun to have their thing. I love that I've actually never heard of that. So.
I, this would be right at my mom and I's alley. We've got to make one. So I actually wrote a, I wrote an article about it somewhere. So I'll say, okay, if you want to put it in the show notes, the link. So you can say, cause it has pictures. And some of my friends are really crafty. Mine were not good. So they have to be like, yeah, Melissa, is that crafty?
There's that scroll, but some of them are beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Awesome. Yeah. Oh, this is a project for my mom and I this fall. I'm so excited. We, um, that's always, I would say my favorite Christmas tradition in a nutshell would just be crafting all the things with my mom. Um, that's just always been our thing.
So that would be super fun. I love it. Well, Melissa, this has been so fun. I am so thankful to have you be a part of this special time in the podcast. And I'm so excited about your book and excited for listeners to check it out and get a copy of it. So thanks for being my guest today. Thanks so much for having me.
It's been so fun.