A Better Friend
I have a new friend. She’s consistent, helpful, knowledgeable, and can even tell a pretty good joke. She’s usually the first person I talk to each morning:
Alexa, set a timer for three minutes.
Every day she faithfully tells me when my tea is perfectly brewed and ready. She’s never once forgotten to remind me. After that, we talk throughout the day: Alexa, what’s the date? Alexa, what’s the capital of Nebraska? Alexa, what’s the temperature outside?
In the age of Amazon’s Alexa, information is readily available. She can remember the name of the actor in my favorite movie. She can show me how to make a perfect pie crust. She can tell me the date of the moon landing. Alexa is always there, always ready, and always listening (which, admittedly, is a little disconcerting).
However, while I may turn to her for knowledge, I know she’s not actually my friend. She’s present in my home, but can never really be present in my life. In our digital age, it’s helpful to remember the importance of real-life relationships and the benefits of older believers in the faith who can offer us wisdom, presence, and pursuit. We may love the convenience of Alexa, but we deeply need the care of spiritual mentoring.
We Need Wisdom, Not Just Information
While Alexa can quickly tell us all sorts of information, it’s impossible for her to offer situational wisdom. She can tell me all about a labradoodle (and maybe even where to buy one), but she can’t tell me if it’s the right time to bring a new puppy into my home. She may be able to order the newest parenting book, but she’ll never be able to hold my crying baby while offering advice on how to survive colic. She may hear my words, but she can’t comfort my tears.
Older women who have walked with the Lord have something greater than information to offer. They’ve dealt with difficult bosses, prayed for wandering prodigals, and walked with others in their suffering. The years have allowed the truth they know to marinate and flavor the life they lead. They’ve walked through fiery trials and fierce storms. Scripture flows from their mouths because it’s been an anchor for their souls. Don’t let easy answers from Alexa replace your need of older women in your life. Seek them, listen to them, and learn from their wisdom.
We Need Presence, Not Just Answers
Alexa knows more than anyone I know. She has lots of answers. However, we need more than answers, we need people physically present in our lives. There are no easy answers for an unwanted diagnosis, the sudden death of a loved one, or a difficult longing that goes unfulfilled year after year. In those moments, we need the warmth of a friendly smile, the comfort of a caring hug, and the kindness of someone who takes us by the hand and prays fervently on our behalf.
We all need the pursuit of others, showing us the tangible love of Christ.
Fostering deeper relationships with others happens when we make choices that allow us to be present in one another’s lives. Simple questions are often the bridge to deeper relationships with older believers. When a younger woman causally asks an older woman about the yummy soup recipe she brought to small group, it may lead to a longer conversation about her struggles with anxiety. Being together in the same room fosters intimacy and understanding. When you think about what small group to join, where to live, or who to have over for dinner, consider how you can use these opportunities to get to know older believers.
We Need Pursuit, Not Just Availability
Alexa is always available. She can play my favorite playlist and turn on a light in the middle of the night. However, she’ll never notice if I missed church for the fourth week in a row. She won’t see that I had tears in my eyes when I left Bible study. Presence allows for pursuit. When we’re in one another’s lives, we notice when someone is missing, hurting, or in need.
Just last week an older woman at church stopped me and asked how she could pray for me in the upcoming week. I told her I was traveling for a work trip and would be away from my family and asked for her prayers that everything would go smoothly without me. When I returned at the end of the week, I found out she had brought over a wonderful meal for my family. The next week at church I expressed my thanks and she replied, “I did it for you. I just wanted you to know how much I believe in what you’re doing.” Her pursuit of me was such a gift. She sought me in prayer, cared for my family, and encouraged me in my work. Alexa may be available, but she can never pursue. We all need the pursuit of others, showing us the tangible love of Christ.
We live in the age of information and have more data available to us than ever before. It may seem like we can find out whatever we need from Alexa or Google, but we’ll be left with a pile of facts that we have no idea how to sort. We need one another in the Christian life. Take the time to pursue older believers. Seek their wisdom, enjoy their presence, and invite their pursuit. Life is better when we grow together.
Melissa B. Kruger is the author of Growing Together: Taking Mentoring beyond Small Talk and Prayer Requests.
Feeding your faithfulness is an unremarkable practice in real-time. It’s unglamorous by the world’s standards, yet it is precious as it contributes to a life of holding fast to Christ.
A spiritual mentoring relationship is one where a younger believer is tethered to a more mature believer for a season so that he or she might grow stronger in faith and be equipped for ministry.
Older women, read Titus 2, and be encouraged to embrace your calling to train younger women in the church.
Let’s talk about why we should take the Titus mandate seriously and not miss God’s rich provisions for our growth in grace.