My good friend, Inez Thompson used to say, “I’d much rather wear out than rust out.”  In reality, Inez was active and happily working until she had a stroke that left her unable to continue serving the Lord.  Calculating her age from my memory, I would assume that she was about 80 years old when she finally had to step down from her pastoral position at a local church.  She was the pastor of the seniors’ in the church; and she worked as the church’s bookkeeper for many years.  Eventually, her daughter took over the bookkeeping portion of her job.  But Inez continued to do her pastoral duties until her health would no longer allow her to serve.

Inez started coming to my home during a time that I felt I was to take a sabbatical year from my church activities.  Immediately after I began the year off from my “extra activities,” I got pregnant.  It was that year that I started writing.  However, it was a tough transition because I was used to doing many different ministries.  Our home was a bustling beehive of activity.  My two older children were both in school and I had intended to finish my college when my plans were interrupted by the unexpected pregnancy.  My husband and I were thrilled with this new addition to our family; but I had to put a halt to my school plans.

Our beehive home became a silent, solitary place in the mornings and afternoons.  During that year, Inez took a job as a beauty consultant who visited my home with her beauty products.  I learned that if I ordered something she would come every Thursday at 1:45pm.  I’d never worn makeup or used beauty creams; but to keep her coming, I became one of her best customers.  

Addtionally, Inez was much more than my cosmetics salesperson.  She became a treasured friend and mentor.  Inez’ daughter and I were the same age and we both had two children.  Yet, it was Inez who reached out to me with love and patience.  I learned later that I was always her last appointment because she spent extra time with me.  Perhaps she sensed my hunger for companionship.

During those quiet afternoon visits, Inez never tried to teach, preach or disciple me.  She was my friend.  We would talk and hearing my own criticism bouncing off of her was the only correction that I needed.  Faced with a godly person who shunned gossip and harsh assessments of others, I learned to curve my own conversation.  Being Inez’ friend taught me more than any Bible teacher I ever sat under.

Over the years, I’ve tried to emulate the friendship that I found in Inez and transplant her good seed into the lives of other young women.  I found in my friend, a Christ model that I wanted to follow.  I pray each day that God will give me the same grace and patience, becoming a model for other young women.  I like the idea of wearing out rather than rusting out.  

Have you found a good way to reach out to your members that will enable them to find God’s wholeness and joy?  Do you try to be a mentor to everyone or do you find that you must zero into one or two lives at a time?