How to Bridge Generations

February 15, 2013



….the fluctuating feelings of a soul in a given month or day, at least my soul. I can’t keep up- barely anyone can. But I’ve learned that a few people need to know. I need to be known and I need to know and I need kicks in my hiney when I’m out of line and I need a safe place to be imperfect and I need to laugh and eat too many french fries and forget that I’m afraid and then remember I’m afraid and have someone tell me to stop being afraid.

We all do.

And I have my share of great friends that do every one of those things. But sometimes ever so sparse gray hair has it’s place in life. I keep a friend, always at least one that I call mentor. Each of them has been unique, nothing has ever been very formal, but I have intentionally sought them out for coffee or french fries and asked them things like….

 Am I doing enough?

Am I doing too much?

How do you submit to your husband when you disagree?

How do I balance ministry and 4 kids?

What are you making for dinner?

I have to have this. I have to have it. And whether you know it or not- you do too.

Meet Diann Cotton. Diann and Larry (her husband) grab pizza with us- because they can and because we ask. Zac disciples their grown twin boys (who are quite famous) and those two boys invest into our son and given their unique profession- even as a brilliant 7th grader, he listens to every word they say. It is the most inbred beautiful mentoring relationships of all time.


We adore the Cotton’s and they tolerate us! 🙂


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So you may be feeling a twinge of jealousy reading this with my french fries and cool awesome wise people in our lives… good. Feel jealous and then call a woman 15-20 years older than you this minute and ask her to coffee.

My very strict and important rules of mentoring
(I have none by the way but here are my thoughts)

1. Don’t be so picky. No mentor is perfect. If they have lived longer- they have things to add to your life.

2. Gain different things from different people. Keep several relationships that can invest in your life in different ways- no one mentor will be the end all to all needs and subjects.

3. Keep it informal. We don’t meet every week- we meet every time we can- usually spontaneously. High commitment can wear out the relationship.

4. Don’t be arrogant. Realize we need the generation above us and accept that we may have different values. Instead of looking down on that, let it intrigue you and uncover the source of unshared values.

5. Take initiative. I don’t think one woman has ever asked to mentor me. You seek them out and if there is no traction- seek someone else out.

But make this a priority and here’s why- we need people who have perspective that is bigger than our own. We need to be reminded that the mundane jobs are building our character. We need to be reminded that our husbands usually have a point. We need people that inspire us and believe in us, but not so much so that they won’t beat us up if we get arrogant or out of line.

Now. Go. Pick up the phone and call the first woman that comes to mind. We want to bridge the generational gap… let’s start with coffee.

Tell us about your mentor or why you don’t have one?

18 Responses to “How to Bridge Generations”

  1. oh Jennie, this is wonderful. I’ve been praying for a mentor for a few years now, and just this year God matched me up with someone, and it’s the most beautiful, holy of relationships. thank you for being so real, friend. bless you.

  2. Great post!!! Love it, and am loving your heart as I get to know you in preparing to lead a community Bible study w/ Stuck. 🙂

    Bless you!

  3. Jennie! Best topic! This is my heartbeat!!! I grew up w/o a mother so there has always been a void in my life. When I was saved in 1999, God has so graciously & faithfully brought women into my life to mentor me. They have all been different and spoke into different areas of my life. I listen to them and ask questions. There is so much value added to our lives when we open up our lives for wisdom to be poured in. You’re totally right about being intentional. Those relationships don’t just happen. We need to ask God to bring someone to mind and pray that God would open their heart. I’ve found that often women may want to be a mentor but don’t think that they have anything to contribute. That’s when being informal works best, when y’all are just doing life together.

    BTW…..That pic of you & Diann is ALL kinds of precious!!!

  4. Hi. I just found my way from the allume website. I am hoping to attend the conference this year and was just reading about the speakers. As I read through several of your wonderful posts, I realized that I have been praying for your sweet friend, Sarah for quite some time. One of my Facebook friends ( Jill and Mark) had shared about her story and I have been following along on Caring Bridge. What a great and tender God we serve. I hope to meet you in the fall. Blessings!
    🙂 Jen

  5. Thank you for this. I needed a big reminder that I need a mentor in my life! I’m 18, and so blessed to be apart of a small group with girls my age who inspire me to look to Jesus more- but lately, I really feel like I’ve been needing accountability and advise from someone who has been where I am with her struggles/frustrations and as a result has become closer to Jesus.

    Your 5th point really hit home because I have been scared to find someone to mentor me (or just to look for godly older women to hang out with a teen like me haha)- and would have to wait ’til someone would ask me! I need to go find one and not be scared if I get rejected a couple times hehe.

    Prayers would be appreciated everyone!

    Thanks again,


  6. Marilu Horton

    I am just starting out in my relationship w/ God, well actually its been a rocky one for some years now, but I am trying to work on this time commiting to building a relationship with him. I just found you through the Lifeway site, my Sunday School uses thier books & I was looking for a bible study I could do since I am so lost as to where to began. I saw one of your videos and felt a connection, anyway what I am trying to say is that I have been so scared of faltering again that I have been reading books & listening to audio books to inspire myself to do better & in those books they to have mentioned needing a mentor. I don’t know why it hit home when you said it though, maybe because you are a women (lol) or because I needed to see it that many times, but anyway Thank you for that & I pray that I will be able to find a mentor, I live in a small Texas town & like I said I am just starting out to make things right I’m afraid I won’t be able to find one, or find the time. I’m 28 w/ 2 small boys & seperated from my husband I can’t really afford childcare. I want a mentor but my life is so choatic I’m afraid they would not want to stick around or that I wouldn’t have the time for them.

    • Oh girl- that is so awesome and you are so wise to be aware that you need help in this journey. Even those of us who have known God for decades- get tired and slip away at times. I pray you will reach out to a woman- I think so many older women want us to need them and it will be their joy to walk beside you. Ask!! And let us know how it goes.

  7. Thanks for introducing us to Dude Perfect, Ben is obsessed – we just downloaded the ipad game…WAY COOL!!

  8. I’m all about spontaneous coffee dates! Thanks for the challenge. Living in 3 different cities over the last 5 years makes for quick relationship building. I love making friends, but I usually focus on building relationships with young women (maybe I’m becoming more middle age at this point), starting small groups and getting our children together for play dates.
    It has been since Denton, TX (thank you for that Jennie) that I could really say I had a true mentor.

    I think I might just become a mentor stalker – I’ll let you know how it goes.

  9. I teach a wonderful women’s Sunday school class. For many years, I was the youngest in the class. When I first started teaching I was very intimidated wondering what on earth I could teach them they didn’t already know. And then one day it hit me….it wasn’t that I was teaching them, nope it was the other way around; they were teaching me.

    I have a few other mentors who have been great over the years at teaching me about life. Nothing beats having someone listen who has already been there.

    Thanks Jennie


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