This month, we began talking about mentorship. A topic that gets my heart pumping and my blood flowing… just at the thought of life on life. Life on life with intention. I shared with you my own introduction to the mentoring relationship, and how that helped instill in me a constant desire for someone who would come alongside me on this crazy, roller coaster ride.
But before we go any further, let me clear one thing up: the purpose of mentoring isn’t to simply get a pat on the back, or a constant stream of validation. Those things may be (will probably be) a part of this, but certainly not the heart of it. The purpose is more centered toward growth. Moving forward. Learning from someone who’s made it through your stage of life – scars and all – and is willing to pass on what wisdom they’ve gained. Someone who will encourage you not to quit when your season of life is not going well. And yes, someone who will encourage you to keep it up when your season is going well.
Sue Moore Donaldson’s book, Table Mentoring: A Simple Guide to Coming Alongside, explores the nitty gritty, yet simple ways to jump into a mentorship. It is not as obscure as many have often thought.
“Table, bench, back steps, dorm hallway, coffee house—choose whichever promotes the progress of a hearty sharing. The place or porch doesn’t matter. Taking the time to listen does. Tell a story, gently nudge, cry some, laugh a lot, and give all to the Mighty Counselor before and after and maybe in the middle. Coming together until the misery is out of the commiserate as you both sit at Jesus’ feet.
I love to describe MENTORING as “to come alongside” which is found in The Message version of I Corinthians 1: 3 and 4–
“God comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” I Corinthians 1:3,4
Two things to consider:
- We mentor another from our own experience of being mentored by God. As we experience God’s “alongsideness” in our up’s and down’s, joys and sorrows, we can more naturally share His overflow with someone who is where we have been.
“God comes alongside us when we go through hard times…”
- We mentor another by getting close enough so that mutual vulnerability is natural and trusted. Authenticity is the vanguard of artless discipleship.
“…He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just a God was there for us.”
You don’t need a table to be a Table Mentor. You do need an ongoing relationship with the Ultimate Mentor, and a bold desire to get close to someone who needs to hear what you’ve learned.”*
So what happens when we don’t have a mentor?
All this talk about the benefits and simplicity of mentoring leaves us with one big question… What happens when we don’t have a mentor? What would be the downside to not entering into this type of relationship within the Body of Christ?
Well, to begin with, your opportunity to grow and flourish will be a bit stunted. Yep, it’s true. To not have someone coming alongside you in the day in and day out ups and downs of life leaves you with many more opportunities to wallow in the struggle. To despair in the difficult. To suffer in silence. And it means you do not have someone to genuinely rejoice with you in your victories. (Which is pretty sad, if you think about it.)
To not have a mentor often leaves you with questions about whether or not you are “doing it right”. To not have a mentor leaves you with a very real sense of loneliness – not the loneliness that only Christ can fill, but the loneliness that comes when we don’t have close relationships with sisters (or brothers, when appropriate) in Christ. We were not meant to do this alone. We often apply this principle to marriage, but it follows through to friendships and mentoring relationships as well!
Isn’t it sad to think of what is missing from our lives when we don’t interact with a mentor in some form or fashion? I know, because I’ve been there many times… and I am in that place today – waiting and praying for a mentor who will walk next to me and bring me along during this intense phase of my life. How about you??
what happens when we don’t mentor another?
Likewise, we need to ask ourselves what happens when we don’t mentor another sister? What are we missing out on in that type of relationship?
Have you ever seen someone’s face light up when you did or said something (usually something simple) that blessed them? Remember what that felt like? Have you ever felt like you had something valuable which you have learned and would love to pass on to someone younger who is walking through a similar situation? All of those moments sing loudly of mentoring!
To not have a woman (even a very young woman/teenager) to pour your life into, and to encourage and build up in her walk with Jesus, is equally sad as being without your own mentor. As we discussed last week, when Sue shared with us, we are all called to mentor. It’s not complicated, but it is necessary!
Imagine what blessing you could give to another if you simply gave of yourself for an hour or two a week, a month. Imagine what encouragement she would receive from knowing you were in her corner; that you had been in a place similar to hers; that you had learned some valuable experience in those days and so will she. You know what that would do for your heart – and you can be that for someone else!
“blessed to be a blessing”
I pray that these discussions on mentoring have challenged your heart and have got you thinking about how you can make this a part of your life. I sincerely hope you will check out Sue’s book to learn more about the process of mentoring, and to benefit from all of the resources she provides to get you started.
And please, share with me what you have learned through this discussion! What has been on your mind and how do you plan to take action? Has God been bringing someone to mind that you hope to either mentor or be mentored by?? If the answer is still “no”, KEEP PRAYING. I sure am!!
Till next time, may you be blessed by His extraordinary grace today!
*excerpt taken from Table Mentoring: A Simple Guide to Coming Alongside, Sue Moore Donaldson. Available now on Amazon.