A Note from Kelly King: We continue to hear about the impact of Deb Douglas, one of our LifeWay Women’s trainers, who suddenly passed away on Friday, September 15. One of those women impacted by Deb was April Rodgers. I’m grateful for her encouraging words today. As leaders, it’s a good reminder of our need to have mentors in our lives.
Have you ever met someone for the first time and instantly knew your life would forever be changed? That is precisely the feeling that I had when I met Dr. Debra Douglas, affectionately known as “Pearl,” exactly one year ago.
I remember that I had just returned from a trip to the Philippines and the travel had left me exhausted and feeling a little under the weather. However, my best friend’s sister was getting married that weekend, and I wasn’t going to miss the chance to celebrate with good friends! So, I strapped on my dancing shoes and to my delight Deb was there officiating the ceremony.
Deb had commented in an endearing way on one of my blog posts after discovering that we had a commonality of both graduating from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. So naturally I knew we were destined to be friends. At the reception, I made a beeline for her table and I introduced myself, not really thinking through what I would say, only knowing that I wanted to meet this special woman.
And oh my, was she special! Her ministry work reached far and wide from counseling families to women’s ministry for her church to rescuing countless women from the claws of sex trafficking. She told me that she wrote a weekly article for LifeWay Women on the theme of Ministering in the Messy and that I was welcome to write a guest post for her. I tried to control my excitement as we exchanged numbers, but obviously this was a huge answer to prayer for me. However, what God had in store was more than just a blog post; it was a chance to have a deep and meaningful relationship with a woman who had been in my shoes not so long ago. It was a chance to glean some pearls of wisdom.
At the time, I was leading Beth Moore’s Bible study Entrusted, and I had been longing for a mentor like Timothy had in Paul. The more I prayed about it, the more God kept bringing Deb to mind. I boldly asked Deb if she would mentor me and without hesitation she agreed. This sparked a monthly visit to Bossier City to sit over chips and salsa and soak up every word that she was willing to pour into me. Sometimes the conversation was more serious, filled with opportunities for my improvement. Oftentimes it consisted of how she had ministered in the messy that week. But ALWAYS it included stories of her beloved family, especially her grandchildren.
I knew that Deb had not been feeling well over the summer, but still she would text me to tell me that she was praying for me. The week before she died she suggested that we get together for our monthly lunch saying that we had “much to discuss.” I told her we could wait until she was feeling better, but she insisted that she felt good enough to listen. She bought my lunch and told me that I could pay for her meal next time. And we talked and talked and talked, until it was just the two of us left in the restaurant.
As I was leaving she hugged me and said, “I’m proud of you.” Then she looked into my eyes and said, “And I’m proud of what God’s going to do through you.” I never would have thought those would be the last words that I would hear from her, but how precious to have been given that gift! Words of life.
What had started off as a pearl of wisdom here and a pearl of encouragement there was added with a pearl of prayer, and a pearl of accountability, and a pearl of love…until eventually there was enough to string a short pearl necklace.
Today I proudly wear my beautiful pearls that Deb gave to me. And even though I would have loved to have had a longer strand of them, I am so very grateful for each and every pearl the Lord allowed me to have. They are truly priceless.
In Titus 2, Paul urges the older women to teach the younger women “what is good.”
If you are a younger woman who desires a mentor:
- Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal a woman to you that will teach you what is good, keeping in mind that you may meet her in an unlikely place (e.g., your best friend’s sister’s wedding).
- Be bold and ask her to mentor you, offering to drive to where she is and buy her lunch (if she will let you!).
- Take the initiative to make the meetings consistent, yet be flexible when life happens.
- Start stringing all the different pearls together.
If you are an older woman with the ability to mentor:
- Always point her to what is good and ask about her true relationship with God. Don’t be afraid to get messy.
- Have equal parts of listening, encouraging, and pushing her to get out of her comfort zone and then hold her accountable to the meeting time and topics discussed.
- Don’t underestimate the impact that you can have on her ministry and her life (even in a short period of time).
- Freely give your pearls away.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it.” —Matthew 13:45-46 (CSB)
April Rodgers is a Christian author and speaker with a passion for encouraging women in their daily walk with Christ. Her involvement in women’s ministry initiated her obtaining a Master’s degree at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She is happily married to Adams and the Lord has blessed them with two daughters, Adelene, age 10, and Ellanora, age 8. April loves coffee, group texts, Wednesday Bible Studies, and Sunday afternoon naps. You can follow April and her blog Reflecting Light in Everyday Life at AprilRodgers.com.