An Interview With My Mentor

Each of us travels many winding roads throughout our lives.  Some of the issues we encounter are easily maneuvered but sometimes our paths are interrupted with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The encouraging fact is that our sweet Father who knows us and our weaknesses designed us with community in mind.  We need others and they need us.  Our relationships (or lack of relationships) shape our days.  I wanted to talk specifically about the importance of a mentoring  relationship.

I called a dear friend who started out as my mentor in college.  She was my dorm mom when I was a student leader.  She walked all of us through how to effectively mentor and lead the women under our care (and she almost had to kick me out of the very dorm once too but that’s a different story).

To get a picture of her mentoring experience I asked her how many people she had mentored.  Her reply, “more than dozens but if I say hundreds it sounds obnoxious.  Please find a word that is somewhere in the middle of that.”  Regardless of the numbers, she has done this several times and for several years.  I thought you could benefit from her insights into this relationship so here are my questions and her answers:

How do you find someone to mentor?

I can be either through a program or happen organically.  Organically is preferred but programmatic can be great.  In a mentoring program there is an end date and a specific goal usually.  With organic mentoring you grow to be friends and there is no end date.

What qualifies you or anyone else to be a mentor?

All I have is my story of God’s grace and faithfulness.  I have not arrived but I am happy to walk with someone.  I am willing to journey with them and remind them who God is.

What qualities should we look for in a mentee?

They need to be willing to be honest and vulnerable.  That’s when something can really happen.  There needs to be trust but that develops over time.  And they need to have a willing heart to hear things they don’t necessarily want to hear and then be willing to talk through those issues.  Mentoring implies there is a desire to change.  It’s a journey they have to want to be on.

Have you ever had to end a mentoring relationship?

Yes.  Mentoring doesn’t fit into a cookie cutter mold so you need flexibility but boundaries must also be in place.  Some people think they are looking for a mentor but they aren’t in a teachable place.  You can be a friend to them and listen as long as possible but that is not a mentoring relationship.  You can’t be all things to all people.

There is a line in the Caedmon’s Call song, Walk with Me that reminds me of a mentoring relationship.

Walk with me quiet, walk with me slow
With watered down coffee and words of gold
‘Cause I can feel the edges of these things
When I hear you speak to me

So walk with me.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have someone help you “feel the edges” of your hurts and hang ups?  How meaningful to be that person for someone else?



    1. Emily Thomas September 1, 2014

      Thanks, girl!  You’d love her.  She’s precious!

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