How to Change a Younger Woman’s Life for Eternity
By LESLIE LUDY
It was only four hastily scrawled lines on a torn sheet of notebook paper. But I have never forgotten the contents of that letter.
My mom is pressuring me to go out and date guys and [become physically involved] with them.
I’m only twelve.
I don’t know what to do.
My heart ached as I read the words. Eric and I had only been in ministry for a couple of years, but the more we interacted with teens around the world, the more I encountered young women with similar stories to the one contained in this letter. Many were experiencing incredible pressure — even from their own parents — to casually toss away their innocence. Many had made devastating mistakes that they deeply regretted. And all were longing for the same thing — godly mentors who could show them a better way to live. But very few had anyone they could turn to for answers.
Quite a few of these young women attended youth groups and other Christian activities. But all too often, the youth ministries they were involved in only provided distraction and entertainment — doing nothing to give them the solid biblical truth they so desperately needed. And in some cases, the youth ministries actually did more harm than good. I’d heard more than one story of a young woman being pulled into immorality by other teens who attended the group — and at times even by the youth pastor himself.
As I listened to the heartaches and struggles of hundreds of young women, I began to awaken to the fact that there was an enormous untapped mission field sitting right in front of me. For years I’d had a burden to encourage younger girls, but now I began to feel the incredible urgency of the situation. These young women didn’t merely need a friendly big sister who could pass along some encouraging words of advice — they needed hope. They needed rescue. They didn’t just need to hear about Jesus Christ — they needed to encounter Him in a deeply personal and life-changing way.
Even though I was in full-time ministry, I wasn’t exactly sure how to begin reaching the mission field of modern young women. The need was truly overwhelming, and I felt entirely inadequate to meet it. But I told God that I was willing. And I asked Him to work through my life, in any way He desired, in order to reach these girls with the truth that their souls were crying out for.
Maybe you too have felt a burden for the young women in your life — friends, younger sisters, or girls in your neighborhood or community. If so, let me encourage you — that burden isn’t there by accident! It’s a burden straight from the heart of God. He desperately loves this generation of lost, hopeless femininity. And He desires to work through you and me to reach them with the truth that can change their lives for eternity.
There is a clear commission in God’s Word that speaks directly to this issue: “Older women … teach the younger women…” (Ti. 2:3-5 KJV).
Even if you don’t yet feel like an “older woman,” you can make an eternal difference in the lives of younger girls at any stage in your life. A thirteen-year-old can have enormous influence over an eleven-year-old; an eighteen-year-old can be an incredible example to a fifteen-year-old, and so on. You don’t need to wait until you’ve reached a “magical age of maturity” in order to begin reflecting Christ’s love and hope to the “younger women” in your life.
By the same token, if you feel you are too old and out of touch with the younger generation to truly impact them, it’s time to rethink that perspective. After over twenty years of working closely with today’s young women, I have discovered that they are longing for godly older women who will love them, pray for them, disciple them, and invest into their lives spiritually. You don’t have to have special qualifications or be in tune with youth culture in order to reach them. You simply need a willing, yielded heart that is in tune with God’s Spirit.
The lack of godly mentors among young women today is creating devastating results. Promiscuity, perversion, abortion, substance abuse, and suicide are just a few of the symptoms of this lost and visionless generation. But even girls who aren’t demonstrating these behaviors outwardly are often inwardly plagued by insecurity, doubt, confusion, and despair.
If you are willing to say yes to their urgent need, God can and will work through you to reach them, no matter your age or season of life.
Don’t know where to begin? Here are five simple ways to get started.
1. Start with Prayer
When it comes to mentoring young women, we often want to skip over prayer or treat it as more of an afterthought than a primary focus. But in over twenty years of ministry, I have seen prayer make a far greater impact than any other mentoring strategy. Trying to reach a person’s soul without first laying a foundation of prayer is like trying to make plants flourish in parched and rocky soil. But on the flip side, spending time wrestling in prayer for that person ahead of time can soften their heart and remove spiritual barriers that keep them from receiving life-changing truth.
If there is a young woman in your life you are burdened for — or if you have a burden for this entire generation of girls — begin crying out to God on their behalf. I’m not talking about a rushed, distracted, general type of prayer. Rather, I’m referring to wrestling, importunate prayer; the kind of prayer that doesn’t give up after the first or second time, but continues to ask, seek, and knock until the breakthrough finally comes. Prayer can have a dramatic impact upon a woman’s life — even if you never open your mouth to speak truth to her.
It’s exciting to realize that even if you don’t yet have an open door to personally mentor someone, you can start ministering to her right now through importunate prayer for her soul. And often, prayer can open doors and opportunities to speak into someone’s life that could not have been opened any other way.
It’s also important to note that a godly mentor should always respect the authority figures in a young woman’s life, such as her parents, and not try to disregard or “go around” them in order to impact her. Ungodly parents and other negative influences might seem to be standing in the way of your ability to truly invest into her life, but that doesn’t mean you are helpless or that you need to resort to disrespectful tactics. You always have a way to reach her through the powerful tool of prayer, which is never limited by any person or circumstance. Even if you do nothing else but pray, you can impact her life for eternity.
So don’t underestimate prayer. It should be your starting point, not an afterthought.
2. Lead by Example
The classic statement, “Preach Christ at all times; if necessary, use words.” carries great significance, especially in situations when we aren’t able to openly speak truth into someone’s life. Young women shouldn’t just hear your convictions spoken; they need to see your convictions lived out. When they observe you living a radiantly joyful, set apart life it will often cause them to seek you out and ask you why you live the way you do.
In order to be a truly godly example to the young women in your life, it’s important to avoid the pitfall of following legalistic rules out of a sense of “wanting to show them what holiness looks like.” Rather than sparking others’ desire for Christ, legalism will have the opposite effect. Instead, focus on cultivating your own daily intimacy with Christ, and your love for Him will naturally come shining through everything you do and say.
And remember, as you seek to be an example of Christ to others, even the “small” areas of your life will come under scrutiny. Those who observe you will often justify compromise in their own lives if they see it in yours. I encourage you to prayerfully consider each area of your daily life — such as how you spend your free time, what movies you watch, what you wear, etc. — and let God gently refine areas in which you may not be reflecting His pattern. Whether you are seeking to be a mentor or simply a godly friend, ask God for the grace to “walk worthy of the calling you have received” (Eph. 4:1 NIV) so that you don’t put a stumbling block in the way of the young women you desire to reach for Christ.
You may feel inadequate to be a godly example to the young women in your life. It is certainly not something we can ever do in our own strength. But as we yield our lives to Christ and learn to decrease that He might increase, we will begin to reflect Him in our actions and words. It is by His grace alone that we become equipped to lead others to Him.
3. Point Them to Jesus
The best investment you can ever make in another person’s life is giving them vision for an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the many problems and sins that young women are bogged down with. But the solution is often far more simple than we realize. When a young woman develops a daily, personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, she has the power to become victorious in every area of her life. When Jesus is the foundation of her existence, you won’t need to constantly give her a list of rules to follow in order to live an upright life. She will be drawn to living a Christ-honoring life because of the love she has for Him.
Sometimes even young women who have grown up in Christian circles don’t know how to build a daily relationship with Christ. They may know a lot about Him, but they don’t really know Him. There are two important principles you can share with women who are in this situation.
First, an intimate relationship with Christ requires time. As A.W. Tozer said, “The man [or woman] who would know God must give time to Him.” We can’t really know Christ when we just attempt to fit Him into our lives. Rather, we must learn to build our lives around Him. That is the only way that we can truly walk with Him in the personal, intimate way He desires. If you are walking closely with Jesus Christ, share with other young women what that looks like for you on a daily basis. What do you say no to in order to say yes to time in His presence? What does a quiet time look like for you? How do you draw closer to Him? Sharing examples from your own relationship with Christ can go a long way to give young women a vision for the vibrant relationship they can have with Him.
Second, an intimate relationship with Christ means seeking Him with an undivided, undistracted heart, as it says in Jeremiah 29:13. Often we attempt to seek after Christ while our heart, emotions, and affections are embroiled elsewhere. It might be the distraction of a romantic relationship, the pursuit of popularity, or the noise of social media that has our attention divided. But seeking Him with all our heart is the only way to truly find Him. If you have learned (or are learning) how to pursue Christ with an undivided heart, share your specific journey with the young women in your life. Let them see through your life what it means to choose Him over selfish, temporal pleasures. Let them catch a vision of the fulfillment and joy that comes when He is in His rightful place in our lives!
4. Share Truth, Not Trends
It’s tempting to try and offer trendy advice and human wisdom when you are speaking into someone’s life: sharing “fresh concepts” we’ve gleaned from popular movies, blogs, talk shows, or bestselling books. Simply sharing good old-fashioned Gospel truth can seem outdated or somehow irrelevant in today’s complicated world. But the reality is that no matter what problem someone might be facing in life, there is always an answer in God’s Word. We don’t need to offer newfangled philosophical suggestions to girls who are struggling. We need to point them back to the timeless, unchanging, powerful Word of God. Because “the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
Even if you don’t feel like you have an answer for someone’s problem, a great response is to say, “Let’s search the Word of God together and find His answer.” True biblical discipleship points others to the living, powerful truth of God’s Word, not trendy advice found on social media or in the latest bestsellers.
The Bible was powerful enough to radically transform the lives of countless people throughout history — including some of the most “hopeless cases” — and it is certainly powerful enough to do the same today. If you want to become a truly godly mentor, fall in love with God’s Word and teach younger women to do the same.
Additionally, beware of offering girls what you think they want rather than what they really need. It’s easy to assume that the best way to increase a young woman’s interest in truth is to bait her with entertainment and shallow, feel-good messages. But Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men [and women] unto me.” (Jn. 12:32 paraphrase) It won’t be chick flicks, spa parties, rock concerts, or other trendy methods that will change a young woman’s life and awaken her heart to the Gospel. It will be the pure, uncompromising, timeless truth of Jesus Christ.
Don’t allow frivolity and feel-good messages to distract a young woman from coming to grips with what her soul really needs — brokenness over sin and a powerful, life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. In light of eternity, it won’t matter how much she was entertained or coddled by you, but how much she saw Jesus Christ reflected in you.
5. Be Ready for the Battle
“Mentoring” has become a popular word in many Christian circles, conjuring up images of meeting someone for a latte and being a lovable “life coach” or big sister who passes along some friendly advice. If today’s young women had just stepped out of an episode of Leave it to Beaver, this approach might be okay. But modern young women aren’t living in an upright, moral, integrity-based culture. They are living in the midst of a battle. They are being strategically targeted by Satan. He wants to destroy them. Many of them are walking into hellish situations everyday at school. Others are living in hellish situations at home. Some are in abusive relationships. Some are addicted to flings and one-night stands. Some have had abortions. Some have eating disorders. Some are suicidal. Nearly all are facing pressures and temptations of extreme magnitude. And don’t be fooled by outward appearances — even girls from conservative Christian or homeschool circles are not immune to the pull of our ungodly culture and the relentless attacks of the enemy.
When we try to reach girls like this with a friendly pat on the arm and a few motivational words, we are merely putting a band-aid over a much bigger issue. Once again, they don’t need pop-psychology — they need the truth that sets free. (Note: I actually prefer to use the term “biblical discipleship” rather than “mentoring” for the above reasons, but I believe that when we understand truly godly mentoring, the two phrases can be used interchangeably.)
We must recognize that when we say yes to God’s call to “teach younger women” we are entering a battleground. It’s not something we should step into for our own personal benefit — to receive recognition or do something “interesting and meaningful” with our lives. We should respond to this call for the glory of God alone. We should not attempt to fight this battle in our own strength. We must rely completely on the enabling grace of God to accomplish what we could never accomplish on our own. We must lay down our own personal rights and expectations. We must be willing to take up our cross and follow Him.
Remember, you may not feel like you have a significant ministry right now, but if you are attempting to reach even one young woman with the hope and power of Jesus Christ, the enemy does not like what you are doing and he will go out of his way to discourage and weaken you before you even begin.
I have learned how important it is to purposefully resist the enemy’s attacks every time I am about to counsel or speak to young women. God has given us the authority over all the power of the enemy, and we don’t need to be pushed around by Satan’s harassment. (See Luke 10:19.) But if we don’t exercise the authority He has given us, the enemy often hinders and diminishes our efforts to reach others with truth.
To be effective at discipleship, we must understand both the battle over young women’s lives as well as the spiritual battle we are engaging in. If you go into a mentoring relationship expecting a picnic, you’ll be knocked off your feet as soon as you start. But if you go in ready for battle and armed with the spiritual weapons God has given you, you’ll have the strength to be “more than a conqueror,” no matter how challenging the work might be.
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There is an amazing true story that took place many years ago in Sydney, Australia. A Christian man named Frank Jenner owned a shop on George Street and was determined to share the Gospel each day with people who walked by his store. He approached them with a simple question, “If you died tonight, do you know where you would go?” For most of his life, he never knew if his efforts were making any kind of impact. But weeks before he died, a pastor came to visit him who had been hearing testimonies from all over the world of people who had given their lives to Christ because of the simple question that Frank had asked them. Many of these people went on to become missionaries and evangelists themselves, and it was estimated that well over 100,000 people had been brought into the Kingdom of God because of Frank’s faithful witnessing all those years.
You may not feel that you can make much of a difference in the crisis that today’s young women are facing. Maybe you have been seeking to share Christ with girls in your life, but aren’t seeing much response to your efforts. But as Frank Jenner’s story reminds us, God can take our small steps of obedience and multiply them far beyond what we could ever imagine. So don’t underestimate what He can do through your life, even if you don’t see the final outcome this side of eternity. Simply be faithful in what He has called you to, and leave the results to Him. He cares more about these young women than you ever could. And He has given us the privilege of reaching them with His amazing love. Are you ready to answer His invitation?