Tracing The Mentors
I’m a church girl. Not just the world-wide body of believers who follow Jesus Christ, but the big and little buildings with four walls, which I’ve called my local church. Nine different churches over the years as I grew up, headed off to college, started my career, got married and had our daughter. All in different towns.
I have been blessed to learn under some wonderful pastors. Men who didn’t just teach from God’s Word, they lived it. I had a quarrel with one of my pastors once. Unkind words were exchanged. Apologies restored that relationship.
Another pastor owned a Christian bookstore. He hired an assistant, who also started attending our church. Months later, this assistant stole funds from the pastor’s store. My pastor showed such public mercy to this man and his family. He did not prosecute but chose to forgive him and just go their separate ways. I was too young to recall enough of the specific details and decipher if I would have exhibited the same actions of grace, but I was impacted by my church shepherd’s reaction to one of our own.
One pastor broke my spiritual heart when it came out he had plagiarized a Sunday sermon. He caved under the pressure to perform week after week and committed a sinful act that cost him in more ways than his congregation will ever know.
Yes, looking back I know God placed His hand on these churches and their leaders. Every church I attended had wonderful Bible teachers. Men and women. They taught me Scripture. But the women in these churches, my sisters in Christ, they went beyond Bible teaching and impressed upon me how to be a godly woman.
Traces of my faith come from them.
We have Mabel, who was married to Wilford. They played guitar and sang together in our church, in nursing homes, in their living room. Every Sunday, they carried pocketfuls of candy, which they shared with the kids at church. We visited them in their home often and they had a special gift of hospitality.
Mabel was there the Sunday I said “Yes!” to Jesus. Walking down the aisle to “Just As I Am” and, right there at the altar, asking Him to be Lord of my life. Later, she told my mom, “I knew Traci was going to make that decision this morning. During the first few verses of the song, her hands started shaking as they held the pew in front of her.”
When I was in High School, we moved to a church in town. First Baptist. I attended Centrifuge church camps around the country with my youth group. Oh, the laughs my girlfriends and I shared with our counselors. But tender moments too.
I remember walking back from chapel one day with Julie and Sharon. We were talking about how to make our faith real in our everyday life. And Sharon said, “Traci, I have watched the relationship you have with your father. I see how unconditionally you love him and I think that is admirable.”
Remember I told you I could trace much of my faith walk back to my dad. And look at that, people took notice of my witness!
For about three years in college, I attended Second Baptist Church in Springfield. Under the teaching of Dr. John Marshall, a most faithful man of God. But I was mentored by the Children’s minister, Ann. She took me under her mighty wings and I learned much from her.
How to serve your husband and family even when ministry has you very busy.
That God may call you to ministry years before He actually places you in ministry.
I worked beside Ann in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, church camps and weekday preschool. She remains one of the most influential mentors in my church work.
I landed in St. Louis as a single college graduate in the 90s. Those were some formative years for me as I tried to find a church home all my own for the first time. Please be kind to the singles of all ages in your church. Who worship in family-focused congregations much of the time.
I remember some beautiful women in the church choir I sang in at one church. One lady in particular, a fellow alto, had a Southern sweetness to her. Every time we sat by one another, she asked about my day. I don’t remember her name, but I remember her kindness.
I didn’t stay at any one particular church in St. Louis for very long. Many of the Christian singles I knew would attend the church offering the best singles group at the time. For the first time, I branched out from my Southern Baptist roots (and I did just fine).
The ladies in my Bible study at a local Presbyterian Church offered me a wonderful, safe place to grow in Christ. Nancy, Mickie, Lezlie, Susan. I am thankful for their role in my life at a time when I struggled to match my daily walk with my commitment to Christ.
And today, I have my women at North Point. We do ministry together. I mentor them, they mentor me. Sometimes a lady walks into Bible study or an event, and I think to myself, “What can I possibly teach this faithful follower of Christ?” But I am learning, we have much wisdom to offer one another.
Age doesn’t matter. Our time in God’s Word matters. And what we do with all He teaches us. Ladies, may God let us trace His faithfulness in our lives together for years to come!
Sisters of Christ in the churches I have called home, I salute you! This article didn’t scratch the surface of those faces I remember in the church kitchens, Sunday School classrooms, sitting at the piano and everywhere in between.