Only in the last couple of years have I started to take seriously the instructions found in Titus 2:3-4:
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children
I never saw myself as “older.” I mean, I certainly don’t FEEL old. Most days, anyway.
Then I started to notice just how young those college girls look, and how so very, very “momish” the entirety of my wardrobe is.
I also started noticing, quite by accident, that I had life experience younger women craved to hear, much to my surprise.
So I took a step of faith.
And it didn’t take long for me to understand certain truths that so many older women have learned before me when they became mentors:
1. The vast majority of mentoring is learning.
You are learning the other person. You are learning about their challenges and goals. You are learning how to speak into those. You are learning constantly more about yourself and what you have to offer. You are learning as much as you can about what Jesus did and how He did it because you want to model your mentoring after His. Because of the latter, nothing has grown me in my own faith quite like coming alongside a younger woman as she grows in hers.
2. You won’t have all the answers – and that’s a good thing.
Mentors are not omniscient; only God is. Therefore, mentoring is not about knowing all the answers. It’s about guiding the mentee to the answer.
3. You begin to see the world through a younger woman’s point of view.
The closer you walk with someone younger, the more you begin to see the world the way they see it, and experience the world the way they experience it. A little change in perspective does wonders for your own compassion and curiosity.
4. You will be indescribably proud of your mentee when she succeeds.
While there are numerous benefits to mentoring, there is no reward as sweet as seeing things fall into place for your mentee, especially when it comes to spiritual growth. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4
5. Sometimes it doesn’t work out – and that’s okay.
It’s okay to admit when things aren’t working with a mentee. Ending the mentoring wisely and graciously is an important example to set for her too. Sometimes the mentoring relationship doesn’t pan out because expectations don’t align, life gets in the way, or personality differences are too great. Perhaps it’s because the mentee wasn’t quite ready for the commitment involved. All of these things happen at some time or another to everyone who mentors. Mentoring never involves perfection or two perfect people. The goal is to remain encouraged and open to a new possible mentoring opportunity.
6. Mentoring involves a lot of on-the-job training.
Although it’s wise to understand the principles of mentoring (such as setting expectations and boundaries) and to be ever-growing in your own faith before you begin to mentor, the bulk of your role as mentor is best learned by doing. If you wait until you’re “ready” or “qualified,” you’ll likely never begin at all. (On a related note, read “The Big Lie Women Believe About Mentoring.”)
7. There is no cookie-cutter approach to mentoring.
No two mentoring relationships look alike. The needs of each mentee will vary widely. Each woman is starting at a different place and will desire to finish at a different place. Some will be much further along in their faith while others are new to faith or struggling in their faith. What’s more, some women need a bit more encouragement to get to their goals. No one Bible study or method of teaching is going to address all their needs. You will pick up on what works for your relationship and what doesn’t.
8. The key to mentoring well is Jesus and openness.
If you are willing to go into a mentoring relationship with tremendous reliance on Jesus and an open heart to learn, you are well on your way to the reward of hearing the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
9. Foster the relationship first; speak second.
Young women today are starved for authentic relationship. They see more than enough talking heads in the world. What they want is to know they are accepted even with all their warts, and that someone cares enough to see the real human inside. In the context of such a relationship, you can cast a vision for them of how God can use them — yes, even them — for Kingdom missions.
10. Mentoring builds a legacy that matters for the Kingdom.
By giving of your time, wisdom and heart, you are not only investing in one woman’s life, but in every life she subsequently invests in the way you did in hers. You are modeling for her what it looks like and sounds like to follow Jesus as you pour into others. She will want to give of what she has received. This is one generational cycle worth keeping.
Anything you would add to the list? What other benefits of mentoring do you see? Comment below.