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 and 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?
Very inspiring message, Dorian. These types of relationships are priceless. Thank you for sharing this.
I treasure these friendships and connections! Thanks for your encouragement!
Encouraged to try all the more after feeling I’ve missed it terribly before. I don’t need an official mentoring capacity because being “a son of God” is enough. Thank you for sharing!
Yes, we can influence and encourage each other on the journey without and official “mentor” title!
Becky Keife says
“Saying yes was simply answering the call to go with her down the road God was leading her.” This is so good, Dorina! I would not be who I am or where I am today without women who were willing to go with me and encourage me down the road God was leading. Thank you for this inspiring and Scripture-rooted exhortation to keep doing the same for others!
Let’s be like Deborah! Her story always challenges and inspires me! I appreciate your friendship and that we get to go “with” each other in publishing, writing, mothering, and more.
Love this, Dorina! I feel like I’m being called to mentor someone, but I’m not sure “who” yet. Blessings to you!
I will be praying for God to guide you to that right relationship. A willing heart is right where it starts!
Thank you for sharing and encouraging each of us to be mentors. I like how you put it that she longed for someone a little bit farther down the road. We don’t need to be spiritual giants to go along side someone. Do you have any resources that you recommend for taking that journey together?
Bonnie, there’s a book called Organic Mentoring by Sue Edwards & Barbara Neumann that might be of interest to you. I also love Jo Saxton’s new leadership book called Ready to Rise. Both talk about mentoring and connection.
Patricia Raybon says
Thank you so much, Dorina, for encouraging and inspiring. This hit the spot this morning. I’m always so grateful for you. Thank you!
That means so much to me, Patricia! Your wisdom and encouragement have certainly mentored me from afar. Grateful for you!
Lucretia Berry says
Your story encouraged me to a new level!
Thank you so much.
Let’s be like Deborah! She was such a powerful messenger, mentor, and ezer-warrior for God’s Kingdom!
Thank-you Dorina for sharing your encouraging story with us this morning.
Blessings to all,
I’m so glad these words encouraged you! May we be like Deborah and like Jesus as we go “with” others!
Rachel Kang says
A timely reminder with a truth to ponder—thank you. Thinking of the one’s I’m going with and that are going with me in this season. Glad you’re one of them : )
Thanks, friend. I feel so honored to “go with” you on this leg of the journey! For such a time as this!
Beth Williams says
We may feel like we’re not cut out to “mentor” anyone. All we really have to do is follow God’s lead & invest in people. It can be family, co-workers, etc. Just help & encourage them daily. You will be surprised how good you feel & how happy you make them feel. For me it was caring for my aging parents. Taking them to doctors appointments, seeing them in hospital, visiting them in assisted living what ever they needed I did. Then I took over for my in laws. Did a lot of cooking, or gathering of food so they didn’t have to cook. Cooking & encouraging are my God given talents & it makes me happy when I can do it & help others.
Two years ago I was helping a co worker move. It was going to be me, & 2 co workers. I made a huge baked spaghetti w meatballs as a house warming gift & a way to feed us that day. I continue to make that for her & her dad who is now dealing with cancer. Great wisdom thanks!!
I love those examples of how God has opened doors for you to bless others!