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Mentoring // Crystal Renaud

This post is a part of the Dancing Jesus: Mentoring in the Church blog series that will be ongoing through the month of September. You can read about the series and view the schedule here. You can subscribe to all of the posts here.

Mentorship Doesn’t Mean Having it All Together
By Crystal Renaud

It has been 3 years, 5 months and 6 days since I lost my mentor.

Lost? Yeah. I lost her when it came out that she had been having an affair with my pastor at the time.

But it wasn’t my choice to lose her. Cutting all ties to me was just her way of handling the shame she felt. And for a long time I struggled with her decision. Not only had it been revealed that this woman I looked up to for 7+ years had been living a double life for most of them—but she was now no longer in my life.

In any capacity.

She was just gone.

The amount of sadness I felt cannot be adequately expressed in words. Yet some of you might be wondering why I felt sadness and not immense anger toward her. After all she had been deceiving me (and so many others) for such a long time.

Simply… her sin did not negate what she had breathed into my life.

Without a doubt in my mind I know I wouldn’t be where I am in ministry without her influence in my life. She saw something in me that no one else did. Even as a shy porn-addicted 16 year old (which she had no knowledge of then) she saw my potential and she cultivated it. She provided me with opportunity to volunteer in the church and eventually offered me my first ministry job.

Even as mundane as that first job was it got me in the door and the experiences I’ve had since are nothing short of life-changing.

It is now my belief that she saw her own brokenness in myself and wanted to help in the only way she knew how.

Now some 6 years later I’ve launched my own ministry out of that very brokenness I believe she saw—and am now helping women to not make the same mistakes I did. That she did.

I don’t know where she is these days, but I want her to know how very thankful I am. I hope that I can be half the mentor to someone else that she was to me. And that I will someday find a new mentor even half as great as she was.

You don’t have to be perfect to be a mentor. There are already too many people in the Church pretending to have it together.

Just be willing for God to use you to breathe new life into someone who needs it.

Flaws and all.

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Crystal Renaud is founder and director of Dirty Girls Ministries. Dirty Girls Ministries is a Christian anti-pornography ministry created to help women struggling with sexual and pornography addiction. Founded by Crystal in February 2009, the desire of Dirty Girls Ministries is to break through the stigmatic barriers that are keeping women in bondage.  For nearly 3 years Crystal has used her own story of pornography and sexual addiction to counsel hundreds of women in addiction. Moody publishers will release Crystal’s forthcoming book, “Dirty Girls,” a recovery tool for the woman addicted to pornography in April 2011.
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  • Kyle Reed

    Thanks for sharing. And you are exactly right, it is about breathing life into people not being perfect for people.

  • Kamrie

    I definitely agree. Mentors have such a power to influence their mentories.Sometimes I think my mentors have no idea how much they have helped me. Even if they have nothing to say to what I am going through just being there willing to listen to my problems is great.

    • Crystal Renaud

      I am sure that if she knew what I was doing now in ministry, she’d be amazed that I’d give her credit. But truly, it was her own actions that opened my eyes to just how broken women can be and how we can have no clue.

  • Tyler

    I believe this is one of the most misunderstood elements of mentoring relationships. People often wait until life is in a perfect row to jump into mentoring friendships/relationships. Life isn’t ever like that, and often the best mentoring takes place when life isn’t. Thanks Crystal.

  • Jonathan Brink

    This post is soooo good. Thanks Crystal for seeing that a mentor is not defined by one action. I applaud you for looking deeper than that.

    • Crystal Renaud

      Thanks, Jonathan. It wasn’t always easy to it this way, but God has restored so much.

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  • Jane


    If you can still reach your mentor, please refer her to The Hope of Survivors as she could really benefit from the resources on their website and from talking with one of their counselors (who have experienced this same thing).

    She will learn that she is not alone and that what she experienced was not an affair but actually clergy sexual abuse. These predator pastors abuse their position of power and sacred trust to prey on vulnerable women. They intentionally target vulnerable women (like those struggling with depression, abuse, addiction, etc.) as they are easier to groom into dependency and sexual compliance and they are much more likely to feel shame and blame themselves afterwards (which helps protect the predator). It might also help her to see how prevalent this problem is by looking at the recent Baylor University study:

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