I have a question regarding the issue of mentorship. I recently asked a wonderful woman of God to be my mentor. After some prayer she agreed, but neither of us knows where to start. I work with high school girls and have been a mentor, but I still need advice on how to be mentored to. I would love to start a mentoring ministry at my church in the future.
I would love any advice and I thank you so much for your ministry, I have considered you somewhat of a virtual mentor since first reading Boundless.
Thank you for reading Boundless and for your kind words of encouragement. It’s sobering to know that you consider my writing a form of mentoring; may God grant me wisdom and clarity. (I know the standard for teachers is high.)
I believe you’ve already taken the hardest first step in forming a mentoring relationship — recognizing its value and being open to the input of another. Ours is a culture of radical individualism. When you’re used to that, it can be intimidating, awkward or downright annoying to have someone, anyone, speaking into your life. And yet this is just the sort of relationship we’re called to as followers of Christ.
Now that you’ve both said yes to mentoring, what’s next? You need to decide what you want to be mentored about and agree on the form that mentoring will take. First the content: It’s not likely that one woman can answer all your questions or meet all your needs. This woman, for example, may be best suited to be your spiritual mentor. But if it’s advice about your career, life skills or romantic relationships, you may need to branch out.
When I worked on Capitol Hill, I met a woman whose career I greatly admired. She was a bold success in her job and yet managed to remain feminine. I wanted to learn from her and so I asked her to mentor me in the area of my job. She was not, however, the woman who could help me in my desire for a husband — she was a longtime single. That advice came from another woman; someone whose life affirmed Christian marriage. And for help learning how to home school and be an effective mom, I’ve looked to yet another woman. Each of these three women has distinct skills and areas of maturity that I’ve wanted to emulate at different seasons of my life.
As to the form, I think regular and casual is the way to go. Mentoring is different from discipleship, which is formal and driven by the teacher. Think of this as a friendship with someone you look up to and respect. The less formally structured the relationship, the less intimidated both of you will be about spending time together and allowing issues to come up naturally. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a regular time set to meet each week or bi-weekly or monthly (whatever works with your schedules), but that when you do meet, you’re not working through a formal curriculum.
Meet for coffee, take walks, discuss books you’re reading and what God is showing you in Scripture, tell her what’s currently weighing on your heart and let her encourage you, pray with you and when necessary, challenge you.
You’ve already cleared the biggest hurdle and that’s simply getting started.
P.S. For readers who want more detail about the how-tos and benefits of mentoring, check out Connecting: The Mentoring Relationships You Need To Succeed In Life by Paul D. Stanley and J. Robert Clinton and Mentoring: How to Find a Mentor and How to Become One by Bob Biehl. These books spell out in great detail the principles of biblical mentoring.
Copyright 2006 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.