I cannot stress how important it is for young women to have other women to look up to, especially within the church. For years a woman's role in the church was restricted mainly to that of the "pastor's secretary" or the "children's director." In the past 10 years, though, there has been a shift in thinking and in practice, and now women comprise many other roles on church staff. We still have a long way to go, however.
After I felt a call into full-time ministry (when I was 15 years old), I was desperately seeking female role-models who were also in ministry. All around me were strong men of God who spoke encouragement into my life and gave me opportunities to serve, yet I still needed the influence of women. Thankfully, my youth pastor's wife was an integral part of our youth ministry, and took on all roles necessary including preaching at our youth meetings. With 3 young children, she modeled for me how to put family first yet still use her gifts.
As I sought these female influences, I found them, although not always in close proximity to where I lived. I would see these women at camps, conferences, and church meetings, and immediately wanted to be close to them. In many cases I took a risk and asked if they would mentor me, even from afar. One of these women (Kara Powell) was a youth pastor from a church in San Diego, and every time I saw her I soaked in every word she had to share. Her life and calling amazed me. I honestly don't know if she realizes what an influence she had on my life, just by being present and being available.
When I arrived at college, there were an amazing amount of women to look up to and seek as mentors. This is where my own ministry truly started to form, as these women poured into me and encouraged me to dream big. I had not grown up seeing women in these roles before, and it was as if a whole new world opened up before me.
As I got involved in ministry, girls younger than me started to seek me out as a mentor. I felt inferior, unqualified, and insecure. Yet these were girls who came in, just like me, who just wanted someone to believe in them.
My friend Jo quoted recently - "You cannot be what you cannot see." (Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of Children's Defense Fund)
Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, a work-from-home mom, a woman in ministry, someone who works behind the scenes, or someone who is up front, reach out to the girls younger than you. They need you. They need to know that God can use them in whatever stage of life they are in. They need to know they are not invisible. Allow God to use you to pour into the young women He has placed in your life. You never know what kind of influence you could have - it may be just what she needs.
Read other stories of "Patron Saints and Spiritual Midwives" over at Sarah Bessey's blog.