Last Saturday, several ladies came over for coffee and a frank discussion about mentoring.
I had lots of ideas running through my head, but didn’t want to monopolize the conversation. So, I’m sharing those my ideas of what is a mentor…
Over the past 30 years, I’ve been in a wide variety of mentoring relationships. Some worked. Some didn’t.
As a mentee (the one being mentored), I immediately think of Marsha. We served on the women’s ministry board at church together when my kids were young. I was chairman and we had a very difficult situation. I spent a lot of time at Marsha’s home discussing how to resolve this situation. It was at that time that our friendship was planted & I discovered her wisdom in difficult situations Over the past 23 years our friendship has grown.
What you need to know is Marsha didn’t just mentor me, she loved on my kids. One day, Ashley told me that she had 3 grandma’s. I wasn’t quite sure what she meant, but she proceeded to tell me. Grandma, Memere & Miss Marsha. Miss Marsha had become part of our family.
When my kids had the chicken pox (for several weeks), Marsha showed up on my door step and told me to get my purse & leave. She stayed with the kids so I could take a break. She mentored me by example, not just words. Because of Marsha’s example, I try to reach out to young moms & give them a break.
While we were homeschooling, I mentored 2 different young moms (not at the same time). What I liked about this relationship is it, once again, involved my kids. When Heather & I got together, she had a toddler. My kids were 8-10 years old. They watched her child, so we could talk, pray & discuss the Bible. We continued to do this after her second son was born. Eventually Heather’s family left for the mission field.
I did this again with Jamie, who had 2 kids under the age of 5. My kids played with hers so we could pray, talk & discuss the Bible. Eventually Jamie’s family left for the mission field, also.
This mentoring relationship would not have worked as well, had my kids not been able to play with Heather or Jamie’s kids. As a bonus to our mentoring relationship, my kids learned to serve. What a great combination.
College Kids from Mission Trips
After our family goes on mission trips with college kids, we have them over for meals when we return home. Having spent a week or two serving alongside them, we already have a friendship. Opening our home for meals is an easy way to continue that friendship. This was a very informal way of both Steve & I mentoring college students.
College Girls & Guys
From those meals, we developed good relationships with several of the college kids. One young man in particular turned to Steve for advice. If the doorbell rang around 8pm while we were putting the kids to bed, we knew it was Grady. He had come to talk to Steve.
For me, I didn’t have a formal time with any of those college girls. We simply spent time together as friends. One of those girls still emails me from Africa, with homeschooling questions. You might be seeing a trend here…mentor, then go on the mission field. That hasn’t really happened in all cases.
Heart to Heart
Heart to Heart was a program at our church that tried to pair women into an older-younger woman relationship. They filled out profiles and matched up women. The problem is it didn’t work very well.
Last Saturday, Becky shared of being mentored by someone that has nothing in common with her. Their profiles would never have matched up in a formal mentoring program. Yet, God brought the two of them together.
I share this example because too often we want to be programmatic when God calls us to mentor naturally. Mentoring isn’t a program. It’s a relationship. You can’t use programs to create friendships & relationships.
Mom to Mom
Mom to Mom is a group- type mentoring program. You can even buy curriculum to guide you through it. Older women lead a group of younger women through studies on spiritual growth, marriage & parenting. Meetings are weekly and begin with a video lesson. From there, small groups discuss the weekly topic.
I led a group one year and got to know several young moms. We had some frank discussions. The older moms in the group were able to share stories & lessons they learned.
I think this is good beginning to mentoring. It might be a springboard to an individual mentoring relationship.
I saved the best for last. Actually, I’m going to save this one for tomorrow.
As I thought back about our Saturday meetup, I wondered what take-aways I had. Most of the mentoring relationships I had began with service – serving at church, serving on a mission trip, serving in my home. We were serving together and a friendship blossomed. Find a place to serve & you might find a mentor/mentee.
Secondly, God truly encouraged me to actively be on the lookout for mentoring opportunities.
To take the initiative. To not be shy. To spend time with other women as God brings them into my life.
Mentors & mentees will not fall from the sky.
Question: What take-aways do you have about mentoring? You can leave a comment by clicking here.