Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington
mentee and mentor

Scientists say it’s possible for us to see the light of a distant star, farther from the earth than our own sun, after that star has died. The star might be long gone, but we may still benefit from its light gleaming in the heavens today.


This past week I lost such a star. Marilyn Gaeta was a godly woman who mentored me for almost ten years. The ultimate “Titus 2 woman” (Titus 2:3-5), Marilyn took this (then) young woman under her wings. I was barely thirty when she began encouraging and discipling me in every area of life: marriage, discipleship, ministry, teaching, speaking. Who I was as a wife and who I am as a woman, a Christian, and a ministry leader is due in large part to her influence.

Marilyn encouraged me in countless ways. And she challenged me to grow. She did not shy away from saying the hard things I needed to hear. But she wrapped the truth in love. Her desire was always for my eternal good and God’s ultimate glory.

mentor and mentee

And now this faithful servant of Jesus Christ is worshipping her Savior face to face before the Throne of God. Our loss is her gain.


The same weekend I received the news of her graduation to heaven, I also received a request to mentor a young woman. She’s the third person to ask for a one-on-one mentoring relationship in the past several years. I say this, not to boast. Heavens, no!

Instead, I say this with continued surprise that anyone would view me in this light. I still see myself as the “younger woman” needing the mentorship of someone older and wiser than myself. Yet the calendar and multiplying gray hairs tell me it’s time to also embrace this season of life. And each time I speak into the life of another, I pray I will be an echo of what Marilyn was to me.

I haven’t—and none of us has—”arrived” in our spiritual walk. And we won’t, this side of heaven. But in the great circle of life, we will almost always find other Christians both ahead of us and behind us on this journey. Regardless of where we are, there’s always someone else we can encourage, disciple, and (dare I say it?) mentor. Don’t wait till you have all the answers. Sometimes the relationship is about seeking those answers together.

*What does this connection look like? For the younger woman, it begins with a willingness to ask and seek as the Holy Spirit prompts. For the older woman, it begins with being willing to follow the Holy Spirit’s prompts to be attentive and open to the younger women around her. And for both parties, it requires a willingness to be real, to be vulnerable, and to see the value in cross-generational relationships.

So where are you in this process? Mentor? Mentee? Or neither…yet?
Will you tell God you’re open to seeing how He might use such a relationship in your life? Then follow as He leads!

*Note: For more information about mentoring relationships, see the resources on the Revive Our Hearts website.

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  1. Joanna Schwarz

    It is bitter sweet to hear of the passing from this earth to heaven of this dear sister in the Lord and mighty warrior. While I did not have the privilege of her being my mentor, she did help me in other ways that changed my walk with Christ forever and for the better! And, I know that I am not alone in this regard either. She was the type of saint who was so in tune with the Holy Spirit and His leading and was able to touch many lives.
    Now, to the woman who I consider to be my mentor with regard to ministry to other women…thank you Ava Pennington for the time you took to pour into my life so that I could learn to pour into the lives of other women. You too have changed my walk with God in many ways forever and for the better! Love you dear sister.

  2. Ava Pennington

    Awww…thank you, Joanna. Love you, too.
    And love how the Lord is now using you to teach and mentor women to the glory of God!

  3. Jan Daley

    My first mentor was Marilyn Addison and I still think of her daily What a great dear lady. Thank you Lord for sending her to me.

  4. Ava Pennington

    So glad for her influence in your life, Jan!

  5. Melissa Henderson

    I am so sorry for your loss. I am thankful for the mentors in my life. God has sent me wonderful women to walk along side and guide me.

  6. Nancy E. Head

    I’ve been pondering my mentor who recently went to live in a home for the elderly. My mother after my mother died. My example of how to love family and stand up for life. So sorry for your loss.

  7. Marcie Cramsey

    What you have described is the heart of discipleship. I believe it’s the way God intended us to disciple others. It’s a beautiful picture of how God comes alongside us to shape and form us into his image. Mentoring does the same thing, we patiently, and often times as you say, together shape each other into the image of God.

  8. Jessica Brodie

    So beautiful, Ava. I’m sorry for your loss, but I celebrate your gain in the woman you will mentor.

  9. Julie

    I am so sorry for your loss! God gives us so many mentors!

  10. Stephen De La Vega

    Sorry for your loss, Ava, and glad Marilyn is enjoying the presence of God. I actually mentored 3 high school boys when I was only in my 20s! I think I was too young, but, as you put it, I was further in my journey than they were and all was good. I’m not in a mentor relationship right now, but I often look for times to speak into the heart of my oldest son who will be getting married in 5 months.

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