What is Mentoring?

We hear a lot in the business world about the need for mentors. We sometimes hear about in church too, but probably not as often as we should. As Christian women, one of our roles should be to act as mentors for younger women and women who are new to our faith. But what exactly does “mentoring” involve, and how do we go about doing it?

  • Mentoring is a relational experience in which one person empowers, encourages, teaches and shares experiences and resources with another person.
  • Mentoring seeks to establish relationships B short or long term B which will help maximize the personal growth and spiritual growth of the person being mentored. It is a relationship in which a mentor helps a protégée reach her/his God-given potential.
  • Most mentoring is informal. The relationship involves companionship, camaraderie, correction, and simple friendship. Mentors are helpers. They befriend, teach, and inspire us to reach our full potential.
  • Mentoring happens generally on a one-on-one basis.

Why Do We Need Mentoring?

Today’s society is “high tech.” Most of us rely on dozens of technological gadgets to communicate with others and streamline our lives. We use all kinds of digital media, our voice mail, our e-mail, our websites, our cellphones, our pagers, our personal organizers. In the middle of all this efficiency, it’s sometimes hard to find time to sit down across a kitchen table with a friend to share and show we care. Surrounded by all this “high tech,” what we really need is a “high touch” society in which people take time to care for and relate to one another.

Does mentoring work? Research on mentoring programs for teens suggests mentored teens are:

  • 46% less likely to start using drugs.
  • 75% more likely to upgrade their personal goals.
  • 52% less likely to miss a day of school than teens who do not have mentors.

Yet, 98% of our young people are not receiving the benefits of mentoring.

(Source: Marcia N. Smoller, The Long Island Mentoring Partnership.)

Jesus, the Mentor

Jesus’ relationship with His disciples here on earth is our best model for mentoring relationships. Out of all his followers, Jesus chose twelve—the disciples—to benefit from an intensive mentoring relationship. Throughout the months and years He spent with them, Jesus

  • showed them by example how to live morally, how to care for others, how to speak out against injustice, and how to have a vital prayer connection to God.
    (see Matt. 8:20; Mark 7:1-23; Mark 1:41; Luke 7:13; Matt. 5:1; Matt. 18:4; Luke 14:11; Matt. 6:67; Mark 14:38)
  • taught them directly, both as part of the crowd and on private “retreats.”
    (see Matthew 5:7; Matthew 10-11:1)
  • involved them in His work of teaching, healing, and miracle working.
    (see Matthew 13:13-21; Matthew 10)
  • evaluated their performance, rejoicing when they did well, admonishing when they made mistakes, correcting when they got off-course.
    (see Luke 10:1-24; Matt.17:14-21; Matt.19:13-15)

(Source: A Seminar on “Mentoring” by Robyn Claydon, Australia)

Mentoring: Now More Than Ever

Societies in the past tended to have more built-in mentoring relationships available. With mothers, and sometimes fathers as well, working in the home, young people grew up spending more time with their parents and learning life skills from them. Once, the typical way to prepare for a life career was to become apprentice to a craftsperson and learn the craft from him or her.

Today’s world is different. Never before have mentoring relationships been so badly needed, and in such short supply. Premarital sex, unwed pregnancies, drug and alcohol abuse, school and societal violence, eating disorders and depression threaten our young women, we as older women in the church need to ask, “How can we become mentors”?

A Mentor Should Be…

  • Supportive
  • Patient
  • Respected
  • People oriented
  • Good motivator
  • Secure in her position
  • Achiever
  • Able to give high visibility
  • One who takes pride in agency
  • One who shows regard for another’s well-being

Mentoring: Getting Started

  • Find someone to mentor—identify women younger in years, younger in the faith, or women who want to grow in leadership or experience.
  • Look for someone with leadership potential that you can nurture.
  • Learn about mentoring—from books, or from people who’ve been successful in mentoring relationships.
  • Set up a contract outlining when you will meet and what your goals will be.
  • Build your relationship on biblical wisdom. Nurture and support your mentoree’s spiritual growth.
  • Invest your time in the person you are mentoring—making sure you’ve been realistic about your priorities and other commitments.
  • Find out what this person needs in order to grow and what you can do to help.
  • Expose your mentoree to others who have been successful in reaching their goals and ambitions.
  • Occasionally evaluate your mentoring style to see if you are effective.

Christian mentors don’t need to be perfect or have all the answers. They need a commitment to their own spiritual growth and that of others, a willingness to give of their time and influence, and a genuine concern for others.

Photo credits: Unsplash.com
Top to bottom: Amy Herschi, Chrstina @ wointechch.com, Mimi Thian, Alexis Brown, unknown, Priscilla du Preez