Modern-day mentoring is all about meaningful connections. It does not have to be a program, a professional pursuit, or a formalized five-step process. Instead, it can be as simple as investing time for conversation, letting your guard down, and feeling safe enough to be honest with one another. It is not complicated. It’s real.
We’re not looking for the perfectly polished polite people we see in social media, but messy everyday people who love Jesus and want to figure out how to follow Him together.
What about you? Is something holding you back from connecting with others? Sometimes mistakes or perceived shortcomings or inadequacies separate us from others. Or it might be that we are secure in who we are and open to connecting with others, but we fear their reaction.
We can make excuses left and right to not be a mentor—but none of them actually disqualify you from being a mentor. In fact, our imperfections can make us better mentors.
Excuse 1: I Am Not Qualified to Be a Mentor
Do you view yourself as a mentor, or do you shy away from being intentional about connecting with others? If so, what holds you back? You are not alone in your hesitation; I do it too.
Often I have the opportunity to walk alongside students who are much more talented in particular areas than I am. Occupational therapy majors have the entire muscular and skeletal systems memorized, and, well, I get biceps and triceps confused. But what I have found is that God is really good at knowing when two people need each other, no matter how different their skill sets might be. Mentoring means that I step out in faith, knowing God is able to use even me.
Think about what holds you back from intentionally connecting with others and forming mentoring relationships. Your reasons for not reaching out might be a little different from mine, but you probably have them just the same.
Mentoring includes identifying others and helping them navigate life’s challenges along with us. The excuses don’t matter, because God gives us spiritual gifts and ways to share His love and the message of Christ’s Gospel.
Excuse 2: I Don’t Have Time Right Now
There are times I feel so empty. Every moment is filled; my attention is demanded at every turn. I want to store up reserves, create a little stash of time, energy, even sanity! Then someone knocks on my door asking for my last bit, and it is all I can do to keep from slamming the door and shutting him or her out. But God reminds us to ask Him for daily bread, enough for today.
I want the Lord to increase my faith so much that I use it all up every day—my time, my resources, my last bit, knowing that tomorrow there will be enough. But I can tell you, I never come close. I hoard my minutes rather than spend them. "What if I need time later? Is this activity really serving God, or is it me just wanting to please someone else? I need to reserve a little for myself, don’t I? I deserve it."
What if you stepped out in faith, knowing that God will provide what you need? What if your little bit of time made the difference in the life of a young man or woman you met? Not because you knew your time would make a difference, but because you trusted God to use you.
Mentoring can start with just a little bit. Just a little encouragement, a kind word, and a moment to listen. That little bit can go farther than you expect.
Mentoring is a ministry of presence; it often begins in the moments of interruption, such as being tapped on the shoulder and asked for a drink. Mentoring can begin when we are called to meet a need for someone else, whether planned or sudden in nature. Be open to the different ways the Lord might be calling you to serve.
Mentoring can be as simple as a moment—a smile and word of encouragement to a mom with unruly toddlers in a grocery store. It can also center on a topic, a need, or a project. It can be implemented a number of different ways and still have an incredible impact.
So, have I convinced you yet that mentoring is worth the journey?
This is not just a call for the extrovert or the people-person. It is a call for each one of us, to engage those we meet and encourage, guide, and direct them along the way, as well as to heed the instructions of others. That does not mean you need to become something you are not. There are ways to encourage, instruct, and be respectful while using your own unique gifts.
I promise you, however, that the Lord will probably stretch you to discover gifts you didn’t know you had as well. He is calling you because your little bit matters. He is not worried about your skills; He will provide them. He is not worried about your time or physical limitations; He can work through them.
It will be well worth the journey. So come along. Ask for a drink, offer one to someone else, or maybe have one together. Let’s meet at the well and discover what it means to connect and share the only thing that really matters: water that prevents us from ever being thirsty again.
This blog post is an excerpt from Someone to Walk With: A Woman's Guide to Christian Mentoring by Darcy Paape. Read a free preview today!