Recently I polled my Facebook page followers to see how many believed they would make a good mentor. The majority said no. I wasn’t surprised by this. Not all that long ago, I too felt unqualified to offer much of anything to anyone.
Then I realized what a gigantic lie that is.
I pushed past the negative self-assessment and invited a young woman about 15 years my junior out for coffee. The ministry that has unfolded since has completely changed my perspective.
Fellow “big sisters,” it’s time we realize how HUNGRY young women are for meaningful relationship with us.
Please take careful note of this:
1. Younger women look up to you.
You may not think of yourself as someone to be looked up to, but that’s because you view yourself from YOUR perspective. Do you admire any older women today? Did you when you were 24? How about 18? The answer is probably yes. We are wired to look to those who have gone before and study how they navigate life. Whether young women around you admit it openly or not, they do watch you, observe and learn. It’s a responsibility — and an honor. Let us not take it for granted.
2. You have more wisdom than you give yourself credit for.
You have life experience that speaks directly into young women’s situations, particularly when it comes to questions about dating, career, marriage, parenting, finances, friendship, life skills and more. Don’t underestimate the power of your life experience in the eyes of someone younger. Believe you have something of value to pass on to someone coming up after you, BECAUSE YOU DO. Maybe it’s one specific thing you can help a younger sister with or maybe it’s everything. Give graciously of what you have received, sister, and ask God to guide you.
3. Often what young women are looking for is not a “qualified” mentor but a loving big sister.
Many situations in a younger woman’s life do not require a full-on, formal mentor (*breathes a sigh of relief*). Instead, many younger women desire a meaningful, intentional connection with someone of an older generation. In my own life, some of the most poignant lessons I learned were from older women who took special care to love on me for a season. If that has ever happened to you, take note of how the older woman went about nurturing you. That’s your cue.
4. They WANT to connect with you but may be unsure how.
Intergenerational relationships are not as common as they used to be, and studies show social skills are negatively affected by higher social media use. Unfortunately, many younger generations are not being taught how to relate to others when a screen isn’t involved. While there is something to be said for young women making the first move to connect with us, there is A LOT MORE to be said about us big sisters — the models of grace and love — to make that first move. We can lead by example, show them how it’s done, so that someday they will teach this art to the generation after them.
5. They appreciate every minute of attention you give them.
They recognize you have a lot pulling at your time. When you to ask them to coffee or over for dinner, or take time at the workplace water cooler/Keurig to get to know them, it speaks volumes.
6. Keep letting them know you care.
Many young women today are starved for real connection and the hope derived from it, yet they are unsure how to find it. If they seem standoffish or perhaps turn down your first offer for coffee, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should give up. Graceful persistence can free a woman from veiled isolation. Keeping letting her know you see her and care about her, and pray for discernment about how much to pursue.
In all these things, ask God for wisdom, and in all these things, speak in love.
Go beyond small talk with that younger woman in your life. Ask her about herself. Tell her about yourself in exchange. Share your hobbies with her and learn more about hers. Invite her to join you for an activity of some kind. Begin to build a relationship with her.
Because she is your younger sister, and she needs you.
If you want an activity to do with that younger sister you have in mind, might I suggest “Get Daily Quiet Time, Without Adding to Your Schedule,” a short, easy-to-use guide that helps build quiet time muscle. This guide is an exclusive gift for my BEFs, best email friends, whom I also give other exclusive content and a few treats along the way.