I will never forget years 14 and 15 of my life. I often refer to them as the years my mom "flipped the switch" in her efforts to prepare me for what she believed was ahead in my future. Around age 13 or 14 I acknowledged a call to ministry and, with that statement of faith exiting this introvert's lips, my mother accepted the call to become my full-time mentor. We have since disagreed on the exact words Momma used following the predictable "I'm not you, Mom; I'm not going to ever be outgoing like you" phrase that many pubescent teen girls spew at their mothers. The drive to not be my mom, despite my total admiration, and at times, outright jealousy, of her, was enough to force those words right out of me.
And, just as she always had, Pam Greene rose to the challenge.
She would coach me to greatness, even if it took every last ounce of life's blood in her body. Girls, I was (and am) strong-willed. My mother was always stronger.
As an authentic introvert, I was noticeably shy, completely content in my baby brother's shadow. Lead? Be out front? No, thanks. That's not for me. I had shown an interest in playing the piano at age four and my mother showed an interest in it for me for the remaining fourteen years I remained in her home. I didn't like the stage. I dreaded recitals. I shrank back from the spotlight.
But that's not what God wanted for me. And if you've ever asked God why He puts us in places where we don't want to be, you know firsthand the answer He has shared with me, time and again, throughout my life: because when you're uncomfortable, you rely on Me in a remarkable fashion.
Mom the Mentor turned up the heat throughout those teen years, consistently rehearsing "the timeline" for my life with me and all the exciting (sigh, exhausting, terrifying, intimidating) things that lay ahead in my now-not-so-distant future. Remember the "statement of faith" I mentioned in the first paragraph? They may not be the exact words that shot from her lips (and she will certainly defend herself on this point!), but the words that entered my ears and pierced my heart were something like this: "Bridgette, if you're going to be successful in ministry, you're going to need to develop more of a personality."
The crazy thing is: I knew exactly what she meant. My natural facial expression has always landed on "drop dead" without my constant efforts to manage it. I have unmercifully seen the world through a black-and-white lens. It is rare for anything to waffle in the grey arena in my mind as it is so very clear and the message is strong in my heart. And people? Well, I love them, but they drain me after a day's length. When I've had to smile excessively for multiple hours in succession, all the strength I began with is drained dry and total quiet is required for any hope of returned stamina.
Ministry is people. And introverts like people in small, intimate doses. Ministry often requires leadership. And Bridgette Greene did not want to lead; she wanted to be as normal and unsuspecting as possible. Ministry requires faith. And this chic loves a well-thought-out plan with predictability.
Mentor: n. an experienced and trusted adviser.
Life has taken me through a wide variety of seasons that, quite frankly, would never have been even marginally successful if I had not very intentionally and trustfully placed myself beneath the wisdom of my very first mentor--my mother. She believed in the potential that I could not see at the time. She tilled the soil of my soul and dared me to rise to occasions I would have never dreamed possible.
I trusted her with my life. I released her to speak freely into my decisions. Hours were spent riding in the front seat of the family car, listening to her life's experiences, her tenure in ministry along with my dad, her dreams and plans for my future, and even her dreams and plans for her own future. I began to wonder what really could be. And one small step at at time, I found myself following the nudges that the Holy Spirit was subtly but strongly impressing on my heart. I followed them right into my destiny.
I've had a few other mentors that I have welcomed into my life over these past twenty years of marriage and ministry. Only a handful of those trusted advisers were walking in the same season as I was. Most have been a few paces ahead. Why? Because they had learned lessons, albeit some the hard way, as they walked right where I was at the time. These experienced and trusted advisers have called me out on the carpet more times than not, some more directly than others, and set me on the right track. Yes, they listened to my sob stories, empathized, prayed with me, and then turned around and gave me sound advice to lick my wounds or simply make better choices, even if I didn't feel like "doing the right thing".
To whom have you granted such vulnerable access? Have you met her yet? The experienced and trusted adviser? And if so, have you intentionally said, "I need your guidance here. I can't trust my own feelings at the moment" or "Help me stay on track so I don't default to old patterns" or even "I have no clue what I'm supposed to be doing right now. Got any ideas?"
What is mentorship?
Isn't that just hanging out with your girlfriends and venting about how you wish things were different? No, that may be fun now and again, but such casual conversation will rarely produce the potent results of intentional mentoring. And when it comes to fulfilling God's call on your life, a healthier marriage, personal fulfillment, and raising your children in the admonition of the Lord to reach their potential, shouldn't we aim for the highest results?
Believe me, trusted, experienced advisers aren't lining the streets of your local community. You will have to seek them out. You will need to ask God to bring the right individuals into your life. And when He brings them to you, you will need to be a faithful listener and apply their guidance, if only step by step, to your habits, decisions, and path.
I'm so glad you are here with us at Sanctuary. Let us come alongside. Let us connect you with the experienced, trusted advisers you may be searching for right about now. Let's redefine Sanctuary.
Your biggest fan, Bridgette
Bridgette Tomlin, founder of Sanctuary, and her husband, Chresten, have been married for 20 years and have been in the ministry together for every single one of those years! (whew!) 19 of the 20 years have been spent in full-time evangelistic work, both stateside and overseas. They have two beautiful blonde babies--ages 13 and 8--and base out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Like many ministry wives she often feels like the red flag on the tug-of-war rope with the children on one end and her husband and the ministry on the other end! When she finds time for personal hobbies, Bridgette enjoys entertaining, blogging, singing, browsing the local antique shops, and sipping on a cup of hot tea for a few precious quiet moments. Her heart is to lead others to the authentic presence of God--through worship, through Word, and through one-on-one connection.