Melissa B. Kruger
Reviewed by: Christine Wilson
Growing Together: Taking Mentoring Beyond Small Talk and Prayer Requests, by Melissa B. Kruger. Crossway, 2020. Paperback, 192 pages, $16.19 (Amazon). Reviewed by OP member Christine Wilson.
“Would you mentor me?” Those words express the humble longing of a child of God for deep and honest relationships, for growth in Christ and fellowship in Christian community. We rejoice to hear such godly desire—especially in the abstract or when “you” refers to someone else. But it may strike fear in our hearts when that question is put to us directly, when we are asked to mentor another Christian.
In Growing Together, Kruger guides women into intentional Christian relationships by removing the mystery surrounding mentorship and discipleship. While she does incorporate the biblical foundation for requesting and providing mentoring, her focus is guidance for the process: helping one another into deeper fellowship with Christ in the midst of life’s joys and sufferings.
“You don’t drift toward holiness,” Kruger writes, quoting one of her own mentors (34). Discipleship is intentional, and, whether one-on-one or in a small group, it benefits from some structure. Kruger begins with practical tools for the process, for example, setting expectations, anchoring the relationship in the Word, and providing questions that foster conversation and deepen friendships.
Kruger demonstrates how the lifelong process of sanctification is imaged in the mentoring relationship. God, in his wisdom, sanctifies each of us in different ways, in different areas, at different times and stages, and so both mentor and mentee have something to offer—each learning from the other’s gifts and graces, and both growing together within the body. Throughout the book, Kruger emphasizes the beauty, humility, and godliness evidenced by this mutual growth in wisdom. The heart issues that motivate a child of God to seek a mentor—desire to know God and his people, or desire to be free of anger, discontent, shame, or guilt—are, by the love and work of Christ, wrestled with and illuminated by a godly perspective.
Contentment is learned, Kruger reminds us with reference to Paul in Philippians 4. “He learned contentment” (127). It stems from knowing God and realizing that “the cross of Christ was not a random act of violence that God worked for good” (133). It was a providentially planned event, and we—fallen and suffering sisters in Christ, mentor and mentee—are the beneficiaries of his work and invited into his fellowship.
Intentional Christian relationships image that invitation. Our days, Kruger reminds us, are numbered; time “is not a renewable resource” (140). She urges us to seek our contentment together, in life amid the struggle, spending our time storing up heavenly treasure.
Growing Together points us to many additional resources: recommended readings and Bible studies, websites, apps, and information on free classes, video series, and helpful downloads. Appendix 2, in five precious pages, presents a biblical view of submission (with examples of godly submission in difficult circumstance), contrasted with some sinful distortions.
Growing Together encourages us to invest in one another, generation after generation, to share the treasure we’ve been given in order to love God and one another.
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