Mentoring Hearts {not perfection}

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Do you offer yourself as a safe haven or a voice of condemnation when your children make mistakes?  Sometimes we confuse accountability for an expectation of perfection... And we miss out on nurturing hearts. Here's how God asks us to respond when it all gets messy.

That lovely spring evening was begging for a family outing — the kind in which you forget the budget and seize the moment to walk down to the local fro-yo place. But what began with most pure intentions for innocent family fun soon became a trip steeped in doubt over my value as a mentor and my potential as a mom.

As the wheels of the stroller rolled over the newly refurbished sidewalk, I couldn't help but notice the names carved in the cement. They weren't just any names. They were the names of "my girls" . . . girls that I poured my heart, soul, and time into mentoring over the last year. 

These girls were my tribe, my people, my legacy. We did life together, as Paul describes in Thessalonians2:8 (NIV), “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” It was my joy to share life with these darlings, living out the Gospel day to day, letting them into our family and overflowing whatever love I could pour out onto them.

I thought my investment of time would make a difference, hoping that when push came to shove in the face of peer pressure, they’d hear my words echo in their minds and make the right choices.

Instead, as spring fever hit campus, their logical thinking went the way of the melting snow . . . right down the drain. This once their first foolish act, either. Only weeks before, they sat on my couch bawling their eyes out in confession. Three of the four had gotten into “major” trouble, and were desperately afraid of my response. Rightly so! After all the time we spent together!

My mentor heart . . . my momma heart . . . was crushed. Pride was getting the best of as the enemy taunted, “What will everyone say about your mentoring ability, if the girls you invest in turn out like this!”

In spite of my anger and disappointment, the Lord graciously filled me with His Spirit, and took hold of my tongue. The words that came out of my mouth were definitely not my own! They were full of grace and mercy, love and hope:

Girls, I love you more than you will ever know. I am disappointed with your decision. May you see this as a great rescue from God, saving you from something much more severe. The question is this: How will you respond to His mercy as you walk forward and rightly endure the consequences?

Those words from Lord changed not only my mentoring approach but also my parenting style. And they changed me. I saw God's love for us as a parent anew. I recognized the way He receives us in our mess, not with condemnation but with a calling to walk in humble, godly repentance.

His grace is sufficient. His mercy is powerful. His discipline is good.

I also realized that the greatest privilege of being in relationship with others — as a mentor or parent or even as a friend or spouse — is not the potential to influence and teach and guide but the opportunity to respond with God’s grace and truth as a representative of God himself.

We have a choice as to whether we will offer a safe-haven of accountability by speaking the truth in love or if we'll be the voice of commendation with no grace at all. 

Through that experience, the Lord totally relieved me of the burden I had put on myself as mom and mentor. I discovered that my best intentions won't always be enough to keep those I love out of harms way. More importantly, I realized that protecting those I love from harm wasn't God's end-goal for me as a mentor or mom. Rather His desire is for me . . . and you . . . to be a vessel of His love, grace, and truth. Isn't that burden-lifting?

Yes, being a mentor, and being a mom, can certainly be messy business, especially when our ego gets in the way.  But these very relationships can also become the place in which God's extravagant grace and redemptive work is manifested in the most beautiful of ways. 

Is God calling you to mentor your own children or those He's put in your life? Find hope and direction in Impact Together: Biblical Mentoring Simplified.  

Grace always,

Elisa

moretobe.com & elisapulliam.com

Elisa Pulliam

Elisa Pulliam is passionate about women experiencing a life transformed by God for the sake of impacting the next generation – a mission fueled by God’s redeeming work in her life and twenty-plus years in youth and women’s ministry. She’s the author of "Meet the New You: A 21 Day Plan for Embracing Fresh Attitudes and Focused Habits for Real Life Change," which is a book designed to help women embrace a fresh encounter with God, and "Impact Together: Biblical Mentoring Simplified." She is also founder of moretobe.com and tremendously enjoys working as a life coach and coach trainer. She considers her greatest roles as wife to Stephen and mom to four amazing children. Connect with Elisa at elisapulliam.com.