The New York Times best-selling author on the importance of mentorship and his appreciation for his mother
New York Times best-selling author Donald Miller grew up in a world of women—his mother, sister, and a nearby aunt—and recently spoke with TCW about the unique challenges of a fatherless boyhood. The voice behind Blue Like Jazz, To Own a Dragon, and more is thankful for his mother, aunt, and father-figures brought into his life at various points, and is currently sharing the blessing of mentorship and guidance with fatherless boys across the country through advocacy and training organization The Mentoring Project.
“Eighty-five percent of the men in prison grew up without fathers,” Miller says. “I'm convinced America's hope lies with the church stepping in to mentor the fatherless.”
The Mentoring Project is a nationwide movement to support single moms and their children by providing practical support for single moms, providing basic needs including help with household repairs, for example—and other resources. Here’s what Miller had to say to TCW about the project, and his thankfulness for his mother’s influence in his life.
How the church can help debunk myths surrounding schizophrenia
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, an opportunity for all of us to learn more about mental illness, mental health, and how we can offer support to one another. Within the Christian community, this is also a time of unprecedented attention on the topic of mental illness, after the tragic news that Matthew Warren, son of high-profile pastor Rick Warren and wife Kay, died by suicide after a lifelong struggle with mental illness.
In honor of this month’s focus on mental health, we spoke with Amy Simpson, author of the brand-new book Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission.
Join TCW, Jill Savage, Sherry Surratt, Helen Lee, and hundreds of other moms in Normal, Illinois, as we meet for a week of fellowship and connection
TCW is at the No More Perfect Moms Conference held by Hearts at Home this week. Stop by our booth if you’ll be attending! We’ll be giving away free subscriptions, and you can enter to win a Kindle Fire. Free stuff is the best.
We’re looking forward to some great speakers, including TCW advisors Sherry Surratt and Helen Lee. Sherry will be speaking on dreaming the big dreams God has for you and your family, and the seven habits of highly effective moms. Helen will talk about redefining what a “great mom” is, as well as moving from building family-centered homes to those that are truly God-centered and driven by his mission. And marriage guru Pam Farrel will prepare you for the fun topic of talking to your kids about sex.
The message much of the church gives women—and what we should do about that.
When I became an adult, I realized the church must have been talking to the boys in the youth group. Because joining the ranks of grown women meant I stopped hearing those challenges, stopped having church-sponsored opportunities to reach out to others, do something difficult in the power of Christ, and ask myself tough questions about what it means to follow Jesus in this brilliant and terrifying world. I received a new set of messages from the church.
This is how the church challenges women: Attend the Christmas tea. Keep quiet. Being a mother is your highest calling. The best way to serve your neighbors is to indulge in shopping for fair trade items you don’t need. Enjoy spa day, frequently. Be modest. Be sexy in a Christian way. Lose weight by praying and eating foods grown in ancient Palestine. Breastfeed or else. Your greatest accomplishment is being weak enough to be rescued and protected. Stay in the background. Spend all your time with other Christian women. You’re too busy; let us make life easier for you.
We can and should do better than ministry that pampers women.
“This letter is from John the Elder. It is written to the chosen lady and to her children, whom I love in the truth, as does everyone else who knows God’s truth—the truth that lives in us and will be in our hearts forever. May grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God our Father and from Jesus Christ his Son, be with us who live in truth and love” (2 John 1–3).
As you may know, these verses inspired our name, Kyria. In Greek it means “honored woman.” The epistle of 2 John is addressed to one such “kyria,” translated here in verse 1 as “chosen lady.” You may recognize the similarity of this word to kyrie, which is the masculine form of the same word, usually translated lord. We chose this name because, just like the biblical kyria, we feel it conveys something about the place of women in the life and ministry of the body of Christ, his church. We are chosen, called, and gifted for life in service to him.
Serving more than our kids
Every Easter my in-laws make the trip from Michigan to Chicago to spend Holy Week with us. They enjoy spending time with us and our church as we journey from the palms to the cross to the empty tomb. And they especially revel in the chance to snuggle our little toddler for a whole weekend while my husband and I serve. Their sacrifice means I am free to give my worship leading gifts to the church.
When I had my daughter last winter, I briefly considered taking a “Holy Week break.” I didn’t think this was necessary—for me or for her. She would be with her grandparents for a few hours each day. Not the worst thing for a kid.
I think my compulsion to step back was primarily guilt-driven: I saw a lot of moms giving up most of their own needs and gifts for the sake of their kids. A noble calling. But what if God didn’t wire me that way?
Why they love them
My husband wanted a motorcycle. He’d been talking about one for almost a year, probably thinking about it long before that. I wasn’t so thrilled with the idea, but then I found out we were in good company. Author and speaker Lisa Harper has one. So do Chuck Swindoll and Bill Hybels. Ginger Kolbaba, the editor of Kyria, and her husband have one too. When I initially hesitated about getting a motorcycle, our neighbor suggested that I tell my husband that he can’t get one until Billy Graham does. Then I found out that Franklin Graham rides. Sigh.
But I lost the war when someone gave my husband a motorcycle. After some tinkering with the help of a friend, he got it running. And in spite of my initial fears, I found I loved it. In fact I wanted to go out more often than he did.
I started wondering why so many Christian leaders have motorcycles. What’s the attraction? To the average observer, a Christian leader would seem the least likely candidate to own one. Most people think of Christian work as a safe occupation, one that doesn’t involve many risks. In fact, most people have no idea what Christian leaders do. When my husband and I were in campus ministry, I remember a neighbor asking us what we did besides the one big meeting we had each week. He tried to convince us that we should get involved in a pyramid scheme in all our “spare” time.
Welcome to the Kyria blog!This blog is designed specifically for thoughtful, influential women who want more from their faith and who want to make a difference in the lives of others. We strongly feel God's claim on our lives and God's call to exercise influence in ministry to the body of Christ, primarily through the local church.
Kyria gets its name from a word in the original language of the Bible. In Greek it means "honored woman." The epistle of 2 John, for instance, is addressed to one such "kyria," translated there as "chosen lady." You may recognize the similarity of this word to "kyrie," which is the masculine form of the same word, usually translated "lord."
We chose this name because, just like the biblical Kyria, we feel it conveys something about the place of women in the life and ministry of the body of Christ, his church. We are chosen, called, and gifted for ministry.
Kyria blog will be filled with content on topics from spiritual formation to missional life to women's ministry to church leadership to hot topics. We'll cover current events, politics, culture, and media—anything that will help you reach out and disciple and serve others better.
Along with this blog, we're producing a free weekly enewsletter (you can sign up here), a weekly updated website, and if you become a member of Kyria ( for more info or to sign up click here), a monthly digital magazine, in which each issue will cover a specific spiritual discipline or spiritual issue. These resources not only will be useful for you in your faith and ministry, but will also offer you a community of women with the same callings, gifts, and passions so you can grow together and challenge, and support one another.
Ultimately, Kyria is a place to be encouraged, challenged, and motivated. We believe in the power of God to change lives and build the church, a powerful instrument of hope and redemption for the world. As women created in God's image, we've been chosen in Christ, called to influence.
If you believe as we do and are committed to making the most of the gifts God has given you, please join our conversations. As Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:11: "Let's encourage one another and build each other up."