When I first heard about the mentoring program with Baptist Women in Ministry, I was excited to think I could be a part of a group and continue to grow as a minister. But when I was asked to lead a group, I felt hesitant and insecure.

I didn’t think this “young” minister had enough experience to be of help to other ministers. I considered myself new in the game compared to other seasoned women who had more experiences and more education. But as I talked to a person I consider a mentor, Pam Durso, she assured me that I had many attributes and experiences that could encourage someone else. She saw something in me I had yet to see in myself. I am glad I took that leap of faith to mentor through BWIM and I’m thankful for the foresight of another women in ministry who saw I could do it.

It has truly been a joy to come together with other women in ministry and share our experiences together by encouraging and learning from one another. Our group feels like family to me, and I have felt a great level of comfort with them from day one. The timing of our group coming together was truly God sent. It’s been a blessing to have others praying for and with one another during times of seasonal life changes—and there have been many life changes in our group in a short time we have been together. It was obvious to me that the groups formed by BWIM were put together with much prayer and consideration, because our mentoring group been a perfect match for us.

Through this year as a mentor, I have recognized I am not the newbie in ministry I perceived myself to be. Before I began mentoring, I didn’t recognize all that I had gained in ministry experiences or all the accomplishments and the wisdom I have received over the years being in ministry. It has been a great time of reflection for me about who I was as a minister and who I have become.

I have begun to see myself differently, more positively and more self-assured—something I have struggled with before. It wasn’t about me having all the answers as a mentor but putting a mirror in front of myself to see where I could grow and be stretched into the person I am meant to be.

As I reflect on my experiences and growth, I now recognize the real newbies coming behind me. There are woman watching me now, and I am not so new anymore. This cycle doesn’t stop here. It’s important to know and see that more woman are coming behind all of us. And as a woman who has been doing this for a while, or at least a little longer than a few, it is exciting to see the legacy of women in ministry continuing. I hear all those who led me and supported me in this journey saying, “it’s time to support and encourage those coming behind you.” In order for this great legacy of women in ministry to continue, mentoring is needed.

I am grateful and humbled to be a part of a legacy of women in ministry helping other women in ministry. I pray this cycle of mentoring will continue for the good of more strong, bright, and experienced female leaders in ministry.

Bianca Robinson Howard serves as associate minister and the full-time children and youth pastor at Zion Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia.

Applications for 2018 Baptist Women in Ministry mentoring cohort will be available on August 1. For more information, visit the BWIM mentoring page.