Recently, I had lunch with the woman I call my 80-year-old best friend. She is, officially, my “mentor-someone” I was paired up with from my church. Unofficially, she is a spiritual mom to me. She’s someone whom I can ask questions of—hard questions, silly questions, and even questions that don’t cast me in a flattering light. That’s probably my favorite thing about our relationship: I never have to pretend to be a nicer or more spiritual person than I actually am when I’m with her. She loves me regardless.
After lunch with my 80-year-old BFF, I went into a meeting with one of the college girls I have the privilege of doing life with. She’s exploring a call to ministry and what that looks like for her remaining time in college … and then the real world. As someone who also experienced a call to ministry while in college, I have a special place in my heart for young women with that same call. I feel a joyful responsibility to be a resource and encourager to the younger generation God is raising up to change the world.
As I reflected on this day, I was struck anew at what an honor it is to love and encourage women in the body of Christ. We women have a holy calling, a sacred duty to one another—that we will uplift, build up, and remind each other of the gospel.
In his letter to Titus, Paul exhorts older women in the church to love and teach the younger ones. If we don’t, how will they persevere? There are certainly days when I need someone to remind me that the sacrifices I make for the sake of the gospel are worth it—and I’ve been walking with Jesus for 20 years now. How much more so do our younger sisters (and brothers) need to be encouraged to persevere? And beyond that, don’t we all need to be reminded of the reason we choose to persevere? Jesus’ message is Good News—not just for those who have never heard—but for those of us who’ve been walking with Him for decades, too. I need the gospel message just as much now as I ever have.
How can we be cheerleaders for those younger than us? We must seek them out. We must call out the God-given potential we see in their lives. We must pray for them but also with them. Let them hear you call their names out before the Lord and ask for His blessing, His will, and His wisdom in their lives. It is a powerful thing to hear your name spoken from the mouth of someone who loves you, interceding on your behalf before God.
We must pour ourselves out into the lives of younger generations, or they will falter. When that happens our well-intentioned proclamations will come back hollow, having bounced off the empty walls of an echo chamber where no one is listening. That is a sad legacy to leave behind.
As for me, I’m looking forward to the day I can be someone’s 80-year-old BFF and have the privilege of reminding a younger woman that Jesus is worth it.
Corley Shumaker serves as Assistant Campus Minister at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Arkansas State University. She loves Red Wolves football, nail polish, and flowers. You can find her on Twitter at @corleycline.