A Heart to Mentor

By Susie Rowan – BSF Executive Director

Each year, the BSF Board of Directors encourages the Executive Director to take a one-week sabbatical as a means to enjoy time and reflection with the Lord.  

This week is my sabbatical. 

Throughout this week, I’ve enjoyed long walks with the Lord.  

I’ve enjoyed moments of solitude with the Lord. 

I’ve enjoyed food and conversation with my family, to the glory of the Lord. 

And, perhaps because this year is my final year to serve as Executive Director of Bible Study Fellowship, I’ve found this week’s sabbatical rest to be particularly poignant.

A few weeks ago, I conducted a webinar for another organization on the topic of mentorship. Preparing for the webinar was a delight as I reflected on the past and present relationships that have marked my life so significantly. So many of those relationships were birthed in a BSF context. Now, this week, as I enjoy my final week of sabbatical rest, the Lord has continued to bring these relationships to mind. As I think back throughout my life and career, it is indeed true – we need one another. We need those who have gone before. And we need those who come behind.

Seasons to Grow

In my own life, I think of my grandfather. He was the first to intentionally invite me into his daily life. From the time I could walk, he invested in me. I went to his large corporate conferences and was introduced as a 7-year-old. A man nearly 60 years older than I was invited me to walk with him and to participate with him in his corporate life, even as a small child. This inspired me to lead.   

But there was more.   

My grandfather introduced me to Jesus. My grandparents were the primary Christian witness in my life for many years. I watched him lead as a businessman and worship as a believer.   

Then, when I was a young woman, my BSF Teaching Leader, Jacque Sanders, showed me the depth of commitment required to be a true Christ follower. She showed me the wisdom of patience and persistence in prayer. 

And when I was a missionary in Brazil, my BSF Area Advisor, Linda Hunt, taught me how to pursue others and love honestly without judgment.  

As Executive Director, a fellow board member, Bruce Smith, met me with kindness in mistakes, willingness to listen and wise council when needed. He showed me how to have difficult conversations with Christ as the center.  

And now, as I transition out of BSF leadership, I’ve sought council from my husband, Roger, board members Mark Bailey, Mike Duke and Garth Bolinder. In preparing for the future, executive coach Steve Graves and former business executives Ron DeLeenheer and John Duffy have shared their wisdom. 

I am also deeply grateful for my life-long friend, Sharon. Like many of the others, I met Sharon in a BSF class. Sharon is several years older than I am and gives great wisdom as we talk about marriage, grief, children, and grandchildren. She teaches me about aging gracefully. She is compassionate and creative. 

Each of these individuals has offered me wisdom, care, comfort, strength, and love – those same qualities they received as they have walked with Jesus through the years.  

But there are more.  

Seasons to Learn 

In 2017, Janie Stephens agreed to join the BSF staff as my Executive Assistant after we met at a BSF class in Dallas. Through the years, we have worked closely, and I have watched Janie grow professionally and spiritually. When she needed a formal “mentor” during her master’s degree program at Dallas Theological Seminary, Janie asked if I would fulfill the role. Janie learned not only from my successes but also through my failures because she was with me every step of the way.   

What began as a leadership relationship developed into a deep friendship. Though I’ve helped Janie through some difficult seasons, Janie has also taught me invaluable lessons about what it means to follow Christ.   

Through each of these relationships, I’m reminded of the joy-inducing gift of Christ-centered community. I have found that community in Bible Study Fellowship over the decades. Something unique happens in relationships centered around the Word of God. Ultimately, our goal in every friendship is to encourage one another to grow in Christlikeness, to look more like Jesus.   

Tethered Together

As I reflect on this concept, I recall an illustration from Melissa Kruger of The Gospel Coalition. In her book, Growing Together, Melissa recalls as a young girl watching her father work in the yard. On one particular day, Melissa’s father noticed a young thin tree in the yard bent over and suffering from the damaging effects of a recent storm. Melissa watched as her father took a rope and tethered the young tree to an older tree – one that was sturdy and strong. By tying the two trees together, Melissa’s father ensured the older tree could offer support and strength to the younger tree. 

The same is true for any mentoring relationship – a younger, less experienced individual is tethered to a more mature individual for a season so the younger individual might grow and develop.

With this in mind, take a moment to reflect on those God has use in your own life to guide and direct your steps toward Him.  

Hebrews 13:7 tells us, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the Word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way, and imitate their faith.” 

And finally, ask God to reveal specific opportunities where you can help others around you grow and develop. Where can you share your perseverance in hope and the wisdom you have gleaned?

It is indeed true – we need one another. I pray that through Bible Study Fellowship you might find opportunities such as these — opportunities to mentor and be mentored through close relationships that develop around the study of God’s Word in community.  

Susie Rowan

BSF Executive Director

Under Susie’s leadership as executive director, BSF membership has grown to serve more than 385,000 adults and 66,000 children worldwide, and the ministry has introduced BSF Online and WordGo Bible study platforms, and four new studies – IsaiahRevelation, and People of the Promised Land I and II (Part II coming in 2022). Susie and her husband, Roger, have been married for 45 years and have two children, Jerry and Sally, and four grandchildren.



  1. Susie you are such an inspiring God’s servant. May He continue to give you more years ahead to coach, mentor and train during your retirement. Thank so much. With kind regards

  2. Thank you for your service!!

  3. Enjoyed a Heart to Mentor
    Thank you for sharing 💕💕

  4. Beautiful encouragement. I firmly believe God directs the paths of His children. He reminds us to remember the work He does through us to encourage one another. To share, to be His witness of the struggles and victories He works out in each of our lives.
    As I read, “A Heart to Mentor” this encouraged me to take the time and reflect; not only on God’s work throughout my life, but those He has brought along side me to encourage and be encouraged. What an amazing Father we have. We have so many blessings from Him as we continue to stay the course. Thank you for your faithful leadership.

  5. Blessings for your words of wisdom for each of us to pray about and to think on before the Throne of Grace. You and your will enjoy the
    next door God chooses to open for you. .Praises!!!!!

  6. Susie Rowan, I am pleased to have you share your wisdom of our Lord, Jesus Christ, but I am not pleased by you leaving BSF as the leader. I joined BSF about 2 1/2 years ago and am gradually getting used to the program with you at the helm and now, you are relinquishing your leadership position. How can you leave when you are needed here. A song by Leo Sayer (30 yrs ago), When I need you, is most appropriate and applies here. You can’t leave ! Well, I can’t stop you from leaving but I wish I could.

  7. These are encouraging words for me today as I am in a life transition. I reflect on mentors that guided me as I stumbled through youth and parenting. The person I am now is not the same scared, lost soul I started as. I see the knowledge and guidance of those early mentors living inside me. Years ago, I bitterly mourned the loss of each cherished sage. Now I am starting to see that as they left me they passed on to me a Batton of light. And even though I didn’t see it, they, along with the Lord, have equipped me with that same gift of mentoring. I am writing this mostly to officially open up my heart to be ready to see God’s calling and boldly witness and serve where He guides me. I want to be a mentor to others as my grandma, friends and BSF leaders were to me.

  8. Thank you so much. God bless you more!

  9. I am pleased and benefitted from reading your sharing . Am always interested to mentor others just as I have gotten much from being mentored. In fact BSF has made me see how participants have been greatly helped not only in following a disciplined inspired study but also from the sharing and discussions

  10. Susie,
    Thank you for your leadership; God has used you mightily through BSF and will continue to do so. Thank you for
    accepting His call and helping us grow and be nurtured through the study of His Word!!! I know you will find great
    satisfaction in having more time with family, especially your grandchildren! With appreciation and love, Shirley M.

  11. Thanks Susie for your faithfulness to the call of God to BSF. Because of your faithfulness, I’ve been truly blessed. Well done to a faithful servant. Continued blessings as you continue to follow Him.

  12. Thank you Suzie for the God centred leadership and wish you the very best in your next endeavours. Thanks to BSF international too for such a wonderful opportunity to learn Gods word in the most captivating way. My life is changed forever because of BSF and all glory to God only.

  13. I am very new to BSF, thank you Susie for your devoted service to this program.
    May your life in Christ continue to blossom.
    Sincerely, Emily Mabry

  14. Very encouraging. I have really grown in the love and trust in GOD.

  15. Look at God! I’m speaking before a prayer ministry on Thursday morning, 5:50AM. The Scripture is 2 Timothy 3:10-17. The theme is, “Remember the Word of God”. Your blog this month is a living testimony (a show and tell) of my message to, “continue in the things that you have learned and been assured of. Knowing from whom you have learned them. Abide in them, never let them go.”

    May God continue to bless and keep you as you journey down the path to righteousness that He has set for you.

  16. Thank you, Susie! This was beautifully written and very timely, as I have just been asked to mentor a young woman at our church. It is very encouraging and helpful to me. I pray that in our time together, we keep Jesus the main focus and that perhaps we will grow into a wonderful relationship like you have had with Janie. God bless you as you and your family move into this new season.

  17. Thank you for sharing your life experience with us Suzie, once again it is proven the importance that grand parents play in a child’s life… I believe of introducing Jesus Christ to the child while he / she is still in utero, for I can still remember what my mother told me about God walking the earth, and what an significant role that played in my life over the years.. Today I am 71yrs and I can still remember it. Thank you Suzie may our Dear Lord bless you in your future endeavors

  18. thank you for your willingness to serve and for your godly leadership. You have inspired and touched me every time I have read your blog/post with your love of God and for the serving of BSF community. it’s been a great blessing to us. Continue to pray for your new role and your spiritual journey.

  19. Thank you to let me in to the BSF members and found so many insight through digging each scriptures. And your heart and work in God’s path are very amazing and inspired me to endure my life path in Christ Jesus.

  20. Thank you Susie, for your Godly leadership, and its has been a blessing in my life to learn and mature along with other women of God as we study His Word May God continue to bless you are you move forward in your next christian walk.

  21. God bless you. Thank you for sharing with us; you have been a BSF pillar.

  22. So beautifully written, Susie! You touched my heart. Thank you for all you’ve done through BSF to the glory of God.

  23. Thank you for your leadership. I sincerely appreciate your efforts to grow BSF online. It made the difference during the pandemic.
    Blessings to you and your family as you move into another season of life.

  24. God bless you Susie for your wonderful leadership that made me continue with BSF when new books were introduced after what used to be just seven years.

    Just wondering, what happened to the study on the books of ‘ MINOR PROPHETS’. I loved that study

  25. All Glory be to God.

    Thanks for inspiring me to mentor others and learn from them as well.

    I wish you all the best.

  26. Dear Susie, It is a privilege serving in the BSF ministry over many years and growing in Gods Word. You have boldly, through the power of the Holy Spirit, made some major changes and impacted the direction of BSF in a most positive way. I was so thrilled to attend the conference in Portland several years ago. Your leadership is of highest quality and magnitude. I will miss you but it is to God’s glory that you said yes to His calling as Executive Director. Thank you

  27. Thank you for the wise words

  28. What Fantastic Woman of God! Her God-given words are a delight, golden, gentle and a balm to our hearts. They encourage me to persevere, to shake off my tired shackles and step up to be what God is creating. Thank you!

    On another note, when will we see the study of Isaiah? Please!

  29. This is beautiful. Knowing and being sure about God’s purpose for my life has been giving me unrest. I’m certain, through prayer and your encouragement that sharing the word with others is the greatest blessing i have. Thank you for the insight

  30. thank you for your insights ..it has been a pleasure to read your encouragements over the years ..thank you for the time ,the energy and the heart you gave ..

  31. I am so excited to study the book of John in a BFS bible study. I look forward to being mentored by a strong Christian woman from our church. This is an answer to prayer. I’m continually in awe and amazed at God’s love and grace in my life!

  32. Thank you Susie for being a great inspiration to me during the many years I have been in leadership in BSF. Though we did not have a personal relationship you have been a blessing in my life each time I heard you teach God’s Word and read your blogs. May God bless you in this next phase of your life.

  33. Thank you for all your hard and heart work. I have been in BSF for 15 yrs and later became a GL. I enjoy your leadership and the Retreats we used to have. Unfortunately Covid19 has caused a lot of drawbacks. With social distancing and many new health rules, i felt so restricted. But God is Great, He make use of the evil tr8cks of man and turn it to grow His church. I can see more people joining BSF via ZOOM.
    Thanks to the Holy Spirit for leading BSF to digital.
    I was looking for a digital copy of Revelation to benefit my church in this time of Movement Control Order (MCO), but having written to HQ, it seems no one has a copy. How wonderful if i csn have a copy to help my church to study Revelation introducing BSF version.
    Anyway, i wish you all the best in your future endeavours. You look for me via Michael Yong when you last in our last Singapore Retreat.

    God bless you, and hope we will meet again.

    Michael Mah.

  34. Thank You, Susie! I too have been so very blessed to have mentors in my life, especially in BSF! I appreciate the reminder that in different seasons of life we are called to come alongside others to teach and guide! Being that I am in the same season as you I am so looking forward to the opportunity and blessing to mentor more of our younger generation!

    • Connie, praying for you as you seek to share God’s wisdom and love with the next generation. If we don’t tell them, how will they know?!

  35. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s refreshing to see your steps in growing. And how important other Christians are in our lives. And then there is family, what would we be without them.


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