I am passionate about mentorship. There I said it loud and clear, did you hear my roar? But as passionate as I am about being mentored and mentoring other beautiful souls, I also know how scary mentorship can be.
I remember the very first moment I consciously chose a mentor for a particular part of my life. I stood in a room full of students looking up at a red haired, pale skinned woman who was teaching us about sexuality. Her work was Bible based, freeing and powerful and she had given 40 years to understanding and developing a kingdom sexuality model. Her course was required for my honours degree, and I can think back now in realisation, that my desire to understand womanhood and gender, was birthed somewhere between those classroom chairs. The yearning to see the connection between abuse and sexuality. The connection between how we see ourselves as women and the way we allow ourselves to be treated, all of it collided in my heart and I stopped to pray, right there. And then I took the scary leap, the one that led me to her with trepidation. The timid me who had connected with this woman, suddenly standing in front of her asking, “would you mentor me in sexuality, please.” Then began my journey, our cups of coffee, our mutual respect and my ever-expanding understanding of my own sexuality and of global womanhood.
I remember that moment though, the one where the decision was made, it felt humbling. Stepping forward towards a mentor requires a confession, one that says I need to learn, I don’t know enough and I don’t have it all together, will you help me? Perhaps for some that moment is refreshing. For independent learners like myself, it’s uncomfortable. Every mentor I had, and I can count them on one hand, came to me through Yeshua’s Hand. I never asked them to aid me, they were simply, beautifully placed in my life to walk with me. And walk with me they did, and learn, I did. I must add that at the time I reached out to this woman, there was a lot going on in her life and she did not take the mentorship as seriously as I had hoped. That’s the other angle of mentorship, it has to be birthed in shared commitment. Both individuals need to feel the pull of it, the call of it, they have to feel the work of it, and sometimes even the discomfort of it because mentorship can also be uncomfortable for the mentor and the mentee. It can also bring incredible joy to see someone you’ve walked with, prosper and grow in to their calling and destiny. To be honest, that’s the goal, the highlight which makes mentorship worthwhile.
At this point in time, we are seeing a global shift in women’s rights, along with a greater hunger and push to tell our stories and grow in the workplace and at the congregation altars. With all of these positive changes taking place, we need to take mentorship seriously, especially among women. Mentorship is not only about teaching or learning, it’s about growing, it’s about feeling supported, listened to and it’s the ability to accept and receive advice (sometimes hard advice), in order to grow in an area. Mentorship can happen in any area or sphere, it can be formal as in the workplace, or informal as in a relaxed study group that meet together once a week. What is important though is intention. It needs to be clear from the onset what the intention is for the mentorship and both mentor and mentee need to be committed, all in, sold out.
Having being mentored and having mentored others, here’s a few things I’ve learned along the way which I believe can help you if you are praying for a mentor, or about to mentor someone else.
- Pray about it. Okay this may seem obvious, but perhaps not so obvious to some. Always pray for the right mentor, and always pray if someone has approached you to be mentored.
- Many times, individuals are quick to give up when the going gets tough, that seems to be the song of many today. But mentorship can only be effective when both individuals give of themselves, their skills and their time. For mentees, realise that your mentors are putting themselves out there to invest in your life, don’t squander that gift. Appreciate it and do your best.
- Grow together and learn from one another. Mentors can learn from the people they are walking with as well, and often the best friendships and connections form in the depth of mentorship.
Women, I encourage you to look around and recognise the sisters around you, perhaps there is someone God is calling you to walk with. It may be simply to invest in her life and help her as she struggles to adapt to motherhood, or a new career, or the juggle between the two. Perhaps it’s a struggle to find time to attend religious services, why not visit her, take a Bible along and while her baby sleeps, you can read the Bible together. Perhaps she is a junior in your work place, with the same insecurities you once hid, take her in, support you, help her find her voice. And most of all, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you’ve been eyeing out as a mentor, you never know if she’s been feeling the same!