When You Learn, Teach

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By Natasha Sistrunk Robinson | Twitter: @asistasjourney

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I remember when I first saw her. She was a vibrant, fresh face in the sea of bodies passing through the noisy hallway of my church on Sunday morning. She is one of the reasons why some people are saying, “Forty is the new 20.” After introducing myself, I found that she was new to town and had already met several women that morning. Southern hospitality gets people every time.

As I got to know Roena, I discovered that she is a servant. She loves her family and is a stay-at-home mom to her son. Her family joined the church right away. It wasn’t long before I invited her to my home to participate in a small mentoring gathering that I was hosting for moms that summer. We enjoyed food, fellowship, and laughter filled the air as some snuggled on the couch, others sat in chairs to balance plates in their laps, while the more flexible ladies in the group stretched out on the floor.

And before I introduced the possibility of discussing Author Helen Lee’s book, The Missional Mom: Living with Purpose at Home & in the World together that summer, we prayed and settled into addressing a few matters of the heart.

Mentoring requires our willingness to confront the hard things, look at ourselves, and deal with our issues. I wanted to level the planning field in the room so I asked what I thought was a simple question, “Please share your name, and tell us one thing about yourself that does not include your spouse or your child.” I was surprised with the difficulty as woman after woman struggled to respond. So much of their identity was wrapped up in meeting the daily needs of their spouses and children that they really didn’t know who they were. At the heart of this conflict was an identity crisis, women who were strangers to themselves and didn’t see themselves first and foremost as children of God and disciples of Christ.

I was surrounded by a room of doers who had no true sense of being, and then there was Roena who was one of the first to make an honest confession. “I’m Roena. We just moved here for my husband’s job. I don’t know anybody, and I’m just looking for some friends.” This gave me the opportunity to publicly share with Roena and the other attendees about the Women’s Mentoring Ministry we were starting at my church. The ministry would actually be an intentional discipleship ministry which required a long-term (10-month) commitment to support the progressive ministry framework of: 1.) Knowing and Loving God, 2.) Knowing who you are in Christ Jesus, and 3.) Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself. As I continued dialog with Roena over the next few weeks, she said, “Please sign me up!”

After this time, Roena gathered monthly with a diverse group of women who committed to pursue Christ together and mutually submit to one another. Through her mentoring group, like all the others in our ministry, she enjoyed table fellowship and the encouragement, stories, truth telling, and wisdom of other women. They wrestled with God together and regularly interceded for each other. They memorized scripture, answered hard questions, and yes, they continue to serve.

During these months, I devoted my time to preparing and training the mentors on the leadership team. Although I did not see Roena regularly, I continually asked her mentor how she was adjusting and progressing in her mentoring group. The reports were always positive, and after prayerful consideration, we asked Roena to consider joining the Women’s Mentoring Ministry leadership team. Within a few weeks, she said, “Yes.”

Roena entered our mentoring leadership training program with excitement and great anticipation of what God was doing. She was also anxious and perplexed that God would even use someone like her. My ministry partner and I continued to assure her that God knew exactly what He was doing, and His desire to have her mentor others would be as transformative for her as it would be for those she was called to lead. With much reservation, she decided to become a mentor to others.

Dr. Maya Angelou has this great quote, “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” I find that people who mentor with pure intentions do so simply out of gratitude for what God has already done in their heart and lives. They are humble because in their many years of nourishment and preparation, they maintained a teachable spirit and a willingness to learn from others, and once they have been set on the right path, they invite others to join them on their faith journey.

It’s been a few weeks since I have seen Roena. She surprised me with some sad, but wonderful news—her family is moving to Texas. I know that this move will bring peace to Roena because when she was on our mentoring leadership team, we spent many months praying for her ailing mother to receive healing from cancer. God answered those prayers and now Roena would reside closer to her parents and family. As we closed our conversation she said, “I’m moving to Texas and I might just start a Women’s Mentoring Ministry!”

I walked away smiling. Mission accomplished.

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About Natasha:

Natasha Sistrunk Robinson-Headshot2_2013Natasha Sistrunk Robinson is a writer, inspirational speaker, leadership and mentoring trainer, and human trafficking advocate. She graduated cum laude with a M.A. in Christian Leadership from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte) where she had concentrations in prayer and fasting, racial reconciliation, and biblical justice. Natasha has over fifteen years of experience leading and mentoring in personal, professional, and church settings. Connect with Natasha through her official websiteblogFacebook, or Twitter

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Image credit: Sonadie Chea

Natasha’s profile pic by Meredith Mercy.

 

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