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Home > 2014 > January Online Only > Where Mentoring Goes Wrong

Through the mentor's eyes

Sharon scooted between cars, hurrying through the stifling parking lot to make the meeting on time. Although only August, she already felt the pressure of a busy fall schedule. She was unsure how becoming a mentor would fit, but involvement in the life of a younger woman interested her. At least she was willing to attend the training meeting and see what it was all about.

Refreshed by the cool air in the room, Sharon found a chair. Looking around at other women, a wave of nervousness rushed over her. Was she even qualified to mentor? During the next hour, she learned the requirements of the mentoring program, looked over the recommended mentoring resources, filled out a personal profile, and signed up to bring a dessert for the kick-off event. Still the question nagged: Did she really have enough wisdom to do this? Probably not, she thought, but her love for God and young women encouraged her to press on.

Two weeks later at the kick-off event, an eager greeter handed Sharon a bright green crayon and instructed her to find the young woman with the same color crayon as hers—"'Caribbean Green.' Isn't it peppy?" Sharon returned the beaming smile, grateful for a game to help her find her mentee. The energy-filled room lifted her spirits. This was fun! She leisurely worked the room, smiling and displaying her crayon as she went.

"Excuse me. I think you are my mentor." Turning toward the voice, Sharon discovered a young brunette holding another Caribbean Green crayon. After an enthusiastic hug, Sharon suggested she and Ashley visit the refreshment table and then find a place to sit down and get acquainted. Between bites of brownies and lemon bars the women discovered they were both married to engineers, had children, were raised in the same denomination, loved to read, and had outgoing personalities. "We have so much in common," thought Sharon. Next they visited the resource table to select a book to study together and agreed upon a time and place to meet the next week. As Sharon waved good-bye, her heart swelled with joy. She had stepped outside her comfort zone when she agreed to be a mentor but now she was thankful. It would be rewarding to teach Ashley the things she wished she had known as a young woman.

The next week Sharon devoured the book they had picked out to study. She made notes for discussion and identified two additional Bible verses to examine. She was keenly aware of her responsibility to steer Ashley in the right direction. With her china coffee cups ready on the table, she glanced around the room one more time to verify that everything was in order for this first meeting. Ashley arrived at the appointed hour and the women chatted for a few minutes about their week. Then Sharon prayed and they discussed the first chapter. Sharon was encouraged by Ashley's responses to the questions, observing that several important insights surfaced. They closed their time together by sharing prayer requests and scheduled a second meeting the following week. Sharon liked Ashley. She was confident they would become friends and enjoy spending time together. Over the next few days she thought about several additional topics they should study together. She enjoyed being a mentor!

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Posted: January 27, 2014

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Displaying 1–5 of 6 comments

Rey Carr

February 11, 2014  9:22am

Here's my contact email so you can let me know about our request to include your article: rey.carr@gmail.com

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Rey Carr

February 08, 2014  6:09pm

This is a great article about the pitfalls and particularly the differences that at times can seem insurmountable. I'm sure the readers of our online, monthly magazine about mentoring, the Peer Bulletin, would be interested in this article. Could we have permission to reprint it in our magazine? We'd include citation to the original work, include a brief biography of the authors (and photos if available), as well as send a copy of the issue when it is published. Thanks for your consideration.

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Jean Ewing

February 05, 2014  8:43pm

Thanks for this revealing, enlightening and encouraging article. I look forward to reading "Organic Mentoring"!

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Marianne Phillips

February 05, 2014  2:59pm

Like Jenny, above, I relate to the younger generation rather than the old. I am retired and never did find a mentor until I went to seminary a few years ago, and I looked. My grandparents were the generation that were into organized clubs,(Camp Fire, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, YMCA, etc.). They worked for a couple generations, but had to be revamped when my generation had kids. People think they like organized activities because organization looks safer,no big surprises, but a lot of programs don't meet people's needs. So frequently a one size fits all mentality. God didn't make us that way. God likes diversity.

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Marshall Shelley

February 03, 2014  1:33pm

It's always hard to turn something that's intensely relational into a program. This article really brings that into vivid clarity. Well done!

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