Do you see yourself as a mentor?
As we head into 2017 looking to make it more significant than 2016 was, this is a key area.
i speak about it a lot but i don’t think you can encourage it enough.
And it goes two ways: Who are you mentoring? But also, is there anyone who is pouring into your life?
i tend to be someone who looks to mentor people quite easily and naturally. i intentionally have my mind on a few people [some offline, some via social media] that i take extra time to draw alongside, spend time with and just check in with from time to time.
For me the lack was more the second question and i tried to do something about it in 2016. i had in mind 5 people who i wanted to spend time with so that some of who they are might rub off on me. While it wasn’t super successful [because the people i chose were so incredibly busy] it did give me a mindset of intentionality that sought opportunities to spend time with these particular people when i could. The time i got to spend with them was incredible.
But it was just a couple of weeks ago that i found someone who i thought would be an excellent mentory type person, who wanted to hang out with me, and prioritised time with me and so we are hanging out on a weekly basis. That feels like a great way to start 2017.
As a married couple, tbV and i have decided to be intentional about finding some younger couples to try and mentor. One of them is married and one of them is dating. Every relationship is completely different because it is made up of different people and contexts and dynamics, but having walked a bit of a longer road, we may have found some tips and ideas or have some thoughts and experiences that might be beneficial to those we are walking with.
Sometimes it can be formal as in, “Hey, we would love to mentor you, are you interested?” and other times it is simple being intentional [that word again!] in terms of prioritising time together and making space for helpful question and listening times when we are together.
For me, first prize has always been face time. When i was a youth leader or student pastor i would make regular times with people – typically early morning coffee or breakfast special. The main focus is really just catching up, connecting and asking some deeper questions about life, relationships, faith.
In the context of church mentoring we would often pick a book of the Bible and each read a chapter and then bring one thing that stood out for us. So not a lot of work but an opportunity for us each to learn from each other. Typically i would bring the experience and maybe understanding of someone who has studied a certain passage for years, whereas the other person would often be viewing the passage with fresh eyes and so bring a very different perspective.
i never saw mentoring as me giving and them taking. It was always how will we learn and grow from each other.
One thing i have learnt is that mentoring doesn’t typically happen naturally. Someone needs to initiate it. If it is someone you are wanting to be mentored by, then you have to usually make the first move. What helps is if you approach the person with a specific plan: Could we meet for coffee once a month?
If it is someone you are wanting to mentor, then my suggestion would be to hang out once. Initiate a coffee/milkshake time and bring it up there if it feels like a good fit, rather than simply going up to someone and saying, “Hey, I’ve decided to mentor you.” Make sure you express it as an invitation and it’s probably a good idea to put the ball in their court to see if they really are interested: “If you’d like to meet more regularly, drop me a message.”
If you want to have a significant and transformational 2017, mentoring is a great ingredient to add to the mix. But plan it before you get caught up in the busyness of a new year. If you’re never done this before, start with one person. So much can happen over a drink or a snack with some regular occurrence.
Here’s to a brilliant 2017!