Thursday, June 11, 2009


Mentoring . . . not something that I heard talked about a lot in my life until this past year or so. And when I did hear about it, it was something I always just assumed was for those people who didn't have good relationships with a solid Christian family. Then I started a leadership development course through my church this year and there was an emphasis on mentoring - both in that we were strongly encouraged to have a mentor and that we spent a number of weeks discussing the idea.

When I was first presented with the idea of having a mentor, I could give a whole list of reasons why I didn't need one:
  • I can talk to my mom about pretty much anything
  • I'm a private person and I share details of my life with only a select few people
  • I've grown up in the church and I seem to do a pretty good job at figuring things out on my own, so I won't have much to share or talk about with a mentor
But, for some reason, I found myself talking with another friend in the program who had someone in mind who could possibly be a good mentor for me, and when she offered to put us in touch with one another I said yes. Then I almost made myself late the first time we were to meet just to talk and see if we wanted to go forward from there with this whole mentoring thing, because I was second guessing my decision.

Well, after that initial meeting where we really did seem to connect in a cool way, we did decide to continue meeting and it became something that I actually did look forward to. As much as I have a great relationship with my mom and can (and do) talk to her about pretty much everything, ti was good to have someone outside of my family that I could talk to about stuff that came up and about what I was learning. All of my previous excuses for not having a mentor were thrown out pretty quickly. And, honestly, as good a relationship as I have with my mom, there are times when she says something and I don't really listen (OK, now that I've just admitted that to her since I know she reads these things), but when someone whose not family whose input and wisdom in your life you have come to appreciate says the same thing, you listen and take it a bit more seriously.

And so now I sit here, knowing the value of a mentor, and I'm writing this story of my journey with mentoring in the past year, because I think a mentor is something we all need in our lives. It may be in a more formal mentoring relationship, or it may be a more casual thing, but I think every person needs mentors in their lives . . . and needs to be mentoring others as well. You don't have to be some really wise person to be a mentor, you just have to be someone who with a little more life experience who is willing to walk alongside someone else. And when you're looking for a mentor . . . the person should be someone who you can see yourself being comfortable to share with and who you respect.

One last thing I've learned about mentoring . . . you have to ask! If you are looking for a mentor, don't be afraid to ask. That's the way most mentoring relationships happen . . . the person looking for a mentor asks someone if they would be willing to mentor them. It takes guts to do that, but it's worth it! It goes the other way too - sometimes someone may approach you and ask if they can mentor you. But, I'm seeing that most often it is the other way around - the person who is looking for a mentor does the asking.

So, who are your mentors? Currently? In the past?
Who are you mentoring? Who have you mentored?

Remember, there's no formula for mentoring. It's a relationship. And it may get messy at times, but it's worth it.

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