The concept of mentoring first peaked my interest in the late 1990′s when I was a college student. The dean of students asked a few key people to meet for a four-hour meeting on a January afternoon and discuss what programs were most needed on our campus. A need for a mentoring program came out of that meeting.
I watched this mentoring program evolve. Some benefited from it while others lost momentum for it.
Because I felt all the high school and middle schools students within my church could benefit from a mentor (and I could not be that to all of them), I created my own mentoring program as a youth director. It had its challenges and it’s failures. I found it hard to structure something that works better unstructured.
When I was a youth director, I asked a fellow youth pastor to be my mentor. We met at restaurants, cafes, and even attended a conference together. Our conversations were anything from big picture youth ministry to practical tips for leading a retreat. We did not follow a book or take notes. Just conversations followed by prayer.
I also was a mentor. I was a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters for many years. I had to go through an extensive interview and attend a training meeting. After the “structured part” it was simply hanging out with Jamie three hours a week doing everything from shopping to going out to eat to visiting the zoo. Looking back on those times, it was one of the best things I ever did during my college years.
Blogs, books, documentaries, articles, songs, and facebook posts may inspire you and spur you on as a mother. They cannot give you what an actual living and breathing mentoring relationship can. You will only find a mentor if you surround yourself with actual people. And you might feel uncomfortable at first trying to find one.
When I first met my youth ministry mentor, she invited me to a network meeting. And I didn’t want to go. All these people that knew one another and were all friends. I knew I would feel socially awkward. I even drove into the parking lot, sat there for ten minutes, and almost drove away. I ended up going to the meetings with her for several months. Had I not kept going, I would have never had the mentoring relationship I benefited from.
Often times I have hear mentors ask: “Why am I supposed to be doing?” or “I need a job description.” But mentoring is more about BEING than it is about DOING.
The best mentoring relationships come from the person asking, “Will you mentor me? I need some direction right now and you are someone who can give that to me.” Maybe there is someone you can ask. Or maybe there is someone who needs that from you.