http://www.askgodtoday.com/womens-conference-2016If you watched the television show “The Voice,” you saw the joy and satisfaction the coaches found in using their experience and expertise to help someone. As a mentor, you enable your mentee to reach more of their God-given potential. Do not confuse an intern with a mentee. An intern is someone who learns from you and assists you in your vocation or hobby. A mentee is someone with whom you share your skills and knowledge.
Examples of mentor relationships:
My most successful experiences began with someone I did not know well, or at all. If there was a friendship already in place, they seldom followed my guidance, preferring to just complain about their situations. A mentor relationship means equipping the mentee (Philippians 3:17). The mentee has to be willing to invest effort to practice your example.
Similar to a sponsor relationship in a twelve-step program, I helped a new Christian whose family rejected her once she changed her values. Most people think of discipleship as learning the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and church attendance. Adults who become devoted followers of Christ may discover that their friends and family members resent their new lifestyle. Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend is great resource to help with this problem. However, they also need someone to reassure them in their changed perspective.
In my first mentoring experience I approached a younger woman whose best friend had moved away. I saw a younger version of myself in her. I asked her if I could start coming over to pray with her once a week. Our time together quickly changed into an accountability relationship, then morphed into a sisterhood. We have prayed and laughed and cried for more than 1,000 hours now. Our honesty with one another is based on a very strong trust. We confront one another over attitudes, and have encouraged one another through various crises.
Another mentorship began when a young woman approached a church leader asking for a mature woman to assist her in growing spiritually. I eagerly agreed to meet with her and soon we spent two hours a week in conversation, prayer, and Bible study specifically designed to meet her goals. I was able to share resources with her that I had gathered through my experiences going to Christian counselors. Since she was seeking guidance, she never failed to read the book or think through the questions I gave her each week.
Not everyone became a close friend. Sometimes an acquaintance would decide that they didn’t have the time. A few have been more of a short-term counseling situation.
I also mentored in small groups, some might call them support groups, which lasted for more than a year. Most were topical, met monthly for members to encourage one another, and I facilitated discussion and answered their questions. In another monthly group, I served as an example of wife, mother, friend, and disciple. Titus 2:3-4 and Philippians 3:17 were my motivation.
Although my strengths lie in biblical application and interpersonal skills, the guidance below can be applied to any mentoring situation. Because even if you are training someone in how to run a marathon, you are still in a relationship.
Tips for mentoring:
* It is a biblical command. Jesus said to make disciples (Matthew 28:19). Jesus cared about the whole person, so along with teaching Bible application, you may need to guide them in financial, vocational, and relational principles.
* Do not begin mentoring without reading and applying one of the books from the Boundaries series by Cloud and Townsend. You must be able to detach and recognize when someone is trying to manipulate you.
* Explain how you can help. After meeting you may discover that their needs and your strengths are not a good match. You are not rejecting them; you are just not going to waste their time. Try to connect them with the right mentor.
* Decide before starting how much time you are willing to give on a weekly basis. If they start calling and texting, asking for money, or asking for more than you want to give, explain, “I care about you. I want what is best for you. But I may not be what is best for you. It appears you need someone who ___, but that is not me. It is my responsibility as a mentor to know my limits. What you are needing is not something I provide.” If they respect your boundaries, proceed; if they do not, then stop meeting with them. If you have to block their number, it is okay. Satan may try to place guilt and shame on you, but if you do not maintain a healthy balance in your life, you cannot help anyone. (For further explanation read When and How to Intervene.)
* Do not mentor someone of the opposite sex unless it is in a support group setting. The relationship is too personal and focused regardless of age disparity or meeting in a public place (1 Corinthians 10:14).Is there anything rewarding that doesn’t involve investing time and being vulnerable? Don’t miss… Click To Tweet
* Listen more than you speak. Ask thought-provoking questions. It is always more powerful if you can help them discover their answer, rather than providing the solution.
* Share your true applicable life stories, but do not embellish. Honesty is more important. Choose stories of your failures in the beginning stage of your relationship. Model the vulnerability that you hope to achieve within the relationship.
* If you share an example from someone else’s life, keep it vague enough to protect confidences. They will never trust you if they suspect you will use them as examples in your other conversations.
* Unless there is a child in danger, do not share what is said to you with another person. If this is hard for you, then you are not mature enough to be a mentor.
* Take note of their body language, tone, and word choice. Often your job is to hold up a mirror so they can see themselves objectively.
* Focus on the priority. For example, do not correct their grammar, and ignore profanity. In some instances, they may not know a better way to express themselves. You can work on improving their word choice in future sessions.
* Prepare a plan for each session. Although their immediate need may supersede your plan, have an idea of issues to discuss, skills to practice, and homework for the upcoming week.
* Ninety-minute sessions are ideal. Begin by recounting the previous week’s events and discussing the previous week’s assignment. Then develop a new skill, explore something more deeply, or read an applicable Bible passage. Choose a goal for the week and possibly a tangible assignment. Then pray aloud. Encourage, but don’t force the mentee to pray aloud.
* Choose your words prayerfully. Pause to find the most tactful, encouraging, yet honest statements (Colossians 3:16-17).
Is there anything rewarding that doesn’t involve investing time and being vulnerable? Don’t miss out on a great blessing; start mentoring now.
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