Mentoring is one of the most important things that I can invest my time in. It’s become a deep passion of mine over the years and I am so blessed by each of the relationships I have in my life that offer mentoring opportunities. Each is different and each is a gift from God. Mentoring colors my life and brings so much joy and yes, sometimes much pain. Even when it seems like a roller coaster, I know God values the work of mentoring and can use all things for His glory.
Mentoring for me started in high school. At that time, I had some great mentors in my life and they really showed me how valuable mentoring is. Without those leaders I wouldn’t be the person I am today. They would listen to me as I poured out my heart. They offered wisdom to my tough my tough decisions and were prayer partners with me. I knew that I could come to them about anything and that they would be there for me. Also in high school, I had a strong group of friends and I would say we had a relationship of peer mentoring. We encouraged each other and held each accountable for our words and actions. These friends in my life were strong influences for good and I know that their support also shaped my character.
After high school, I started to see ways that I could become a mentor and bless others as I had been blessed. I started teaching in children’s ministry. At that time it was a 3rd/4th grade group of girls. I was really nervous about if I was cut out to teach to kids. It turn out I ended up falling in love with that class of girls. The relationships that I built with that class is still strong. Those girls are entering their junior year of high school and I’m still in touch with many of them on a regular basis. Mentoring is a relationship that isn’t measured by a certain time or teaching obligation. Just because a student moves up from my class doesn’t meant that my relationship with them is cut off because they are too old now. The most rewarding relationships I have in my life are with students that I have maintained friendships with years after they have moved out of my classroom.
Mentoring looks different with each relationship. A lot of times, it’s a meal out, a stop at Starbucks, or a movie night. In fact, just this week I had two students over for one last movie night before school starts. These lovely ladies will be starting their freshmen year of high school next week. One of them, I used to baby-sit when she was three! Movie nights are a fun time for us to just hang out, but I find that the car rides from their house to my house and back, hold powerful times to catch up on what’s going on their lives and the issues they are facing. I know I can’t solve their problems, but they know that I am a listening ear and I will be praying them.
Now mentoring isn’t professional counseling. It’s not all talking about issues and working through problems. In fact, I would say most of my mentoring relationships just revolve around having fun together and staying up to date on each others lives. It’s the consistency in relationship that allows people to feel comfortable sharing the hard stuff when it comes. If I never hung out with my girls then they wouldn’t feel like they could trust me when stuff did come up. Mentoring is also just living a consistent life of character and integrity. I’m human and they all know that. I don’t pretend to be perfect. I do, however, want to model what living my faith looks like. I want to be a good example so that they don’t just learn from my words, but more importantly from my actions.
Finally, I find the best way for me to be a mentor is have a mentor. I need people in my life who can speak to my joys and sorrows. I need people who I can be honest with and I can have fun and laugh with. I’m very lucky to have a couple ladies in my life who I know love me and care for me. I can be real with them and they will not judge me. They are here for me to see me grow. I also still have some of those peer mentors from high school in my life. We’ve grown into adulthood and now have different lives in different locations, but our friendships are still strong. Their voice is my life is still very important and valuable. I’m blessed to be loved and in turn have the opportunity to love and pour into the next generation. It’s seriously the most rewarding thing I do!