“Mentoring” has been around for years, but we seem to be more intentional about the practice today and more aware of how useful it can be in helping a person develop skills and practices for a particular vocation. Basically, mentoring is a developmental relationship between a more experienced person and a less experienced person, usually referred to as a protégé or apprentice. The mentor does not do the work for the mentee but provides a model (not “the” model) for doing the work and provides feedback for the person being mentored.
On Monday, I attended a panel presentation by five women ministers. One of the questions asked was, “What would you do differently in preparation for ministry?” I think particularly every one said something to this effect: “I would have sought out an experienced minister and developed an intentional mentoring relationship.” Such a relationship is especially helpful for women who are seeking to thrive in any environment. This may well identify issues to be addressed and make it easier to walk through some doors of opportunity. A mentoring relationship, either with a male or a female who “knows the ropes” can make a difference in one’s skill development, self-assessment, competence, and confidence.
This is true for men going into ministry as well. Too often there is some disconnect between the academic preparation of a minister and his or her personal and professional development. It is always helpful to have someone who has walked the path before to provide some helpful hints as well as feedback.
Not every experienced minister has the skills to be a mentor. A mentor must be willing to be transparent, direct, encouraging, and perceptive. Most of all the mentor must be willing to take the time required to do this effectively.
Do you have a mentor? Are you mentoring someone else? Think about the possibilities