Melissa Kruger serves as the director of women’s initiatives for the Gospel Coalition. Before she took up this post she worked at her local church doing Women’s Ministry for ten tears. She noticed a lot of women who were desperate for advice and insight from older women but the older women did not know how to develop this. They would end up going out for coffee and chatting but it did not necessarily lead them towards spiritual growth. She has published a new book ‘Growing Together – taking mentoring beyond small talk and prayer requests’. During an interview over Zoom she explained why she wanted to write the book:
“It is good to have relationships and friendships with people in all stages of life but spiritual mentoring is something a little bit different. It is only for a set season where you say ‘I really want someone to ask me questions about important spiritual disciplines’.
Spiritual growth is just as basic as physical health. If you ask anyone, ‘how do I stay in shape?’ the answer is ‘exercise and eat right’ that’s what every physical plan basically comes down to and it is just the same for spiritual growth. It is not difficult but it is really hard to do on our own, we need one another.
The book is not necessarily about mentoring, it is a book to do together. Each chapter walks through important parts of our relationship with God, our relationship with the world and our relationship with the Church. We talk about topics like prayer, evangelism, temptation, contentment, suffering and trials etc. In all these different things it allows the mentor and the mentee to have a spring board for those discussions to take place. It leads your conversation naturally into the things of God. We want those real conversations but sometimes we have a hard time getting there. So I was hoping to provide a pathway for women to have those real and deep conversations that was my goal in writing it.”
Melissa also gave some advice on how to go about starting a mentoring relationship:
“It is healthy to make sure you say at the beginning ‘hey, let’s meet once a month for a year or maybe we’ll meet once a week for twelve weeks or maybe we’ll meet every other week for this amount of time.’ Sometimes you might say ‘let’s read this book together’. It is really helpful to set the date and time so that you are not both trying to scramble and the relationship devolves into ‘oh yeah, we should get together some time’.
Both people should have an expectation – you’ll do the work, you’re the mentee and you have to do the work, it is not just the older woman coming in and pouring into you. As you bring your questions and discuss ‘what do you really think about this?’ then a really good mentoring relationship can happen.”
Melissa has some examples of mentoring relationships on her website and she noted a common theme:
“One of the common themes is that local ministry matters. Sometimes we can think we will be mentored by articles on this website or by reading this person’s book and these can be wonderful stand-ins but this is not a long term solution. We need real people in our real life who can come alongside us. It is always just the faithful women in the local church who are just living their life and what they do is they embody how to live gospel centred lives. We need that, we need to see what kindness means, we need to see what love means and we need to see what patience means. We see it best when it is lived in front of us. It is easy to be perfect in an article but we need to see real women who aren’t perfect, who are just trying to walk with the Lord in the midst of a fallen world. So I’m a bit proponent of local mentoring ministry.”
The full interview with Melissa Kruger is available on the Baptist Women Youtube Channel: