Earlier this month, I shared my Amy Grant story and the joy of meeting a woman who profoundly impacted my life through her music at a very difficult time. Sometimes we impact the life of another without knowing it, but other times we enter into an intentional mentoring relationship hoping to learn, grow, and achieve our goals.
But mentorship doesn’t always come easy. How can we prepare ourselves, whether we are mentee or mentor, to allow for the greatest impact from a mentorship?
A few years ago, a woman named Jennifer entered the 4word mentor program looking for some advice on running her construction business. What she found instead was life-altering wisdom that restored her relationship with her husband and set her on a new path helping mentor others in her industry.
Here is some of the advice both Jennifer and her mentor shared for any person embarking on a mentoring relationship:
- Be open-minded. Like Jennifer, you may think you know what you want to accomplish with your mentor. But being open-minded about the direction your mentorship will go is key, says Jennifer. Just as a mentor needs to be listening to the Holy Spirit for guidance, a mentee also needs to let go of preconceived ideas about what she needs and trust God to lead her through her mentor.
- Strive for alignment. Professional women tend to be driven and self-motivated, but can still lose sight of the big picture and get off track. If you’re seeking a mentor, you likely have a sense that something in your life is out of alignment. If even one area of your life – personal, relational, spiritual, and professional – is out of alignment, you may need a course correction. Mentorship can provide the tools and support you need to get realigned and meet your goals.
- Ask for examples. Though mentees may have an idea of what they’d like to accomplish, they don’t always know how to get there. Your mentor is a step or five ahead of you, so don’t be afraid to boldly ask for examples and tangible steps to take. Then practice, and ask your mentor to hold you accountable. If you’re seeking change in a specific area of your life, work with your mentor to determine practical steps to take. Don’t be afraid of sounding foolish when asking for help or clarification – as Jennifer said, mentorship is a “foolish relationship” but one that allows you to change and grow.
- Trust God to lead you. When you begin your mentoring relationship, ask the Holy Spirit to speak through you and use your experiences to guide your mentee. While talking with your mentee, ask Him to give you the right words and for wisdom and boldness, especially when addressing uncomfortable issues. We all want to be liked, but as a mentor, it’s more important to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us, even when it takes courage.
- Seek to empower. Often, a mentee has an idea in mind of what they want to get out of a mentorship. But even when a mentee says they simply want help in their professional life, remember that our relationships and spiritual health affect all areas of our lives, including our work. Instead of trying to fix everything for your mentee, empower them by presenting tools to help them resolve issues in their life. You can’t make your mentee change, but you can give them resources to overcome challenges.
- Remember that it’s not about you. As Jennifer’s mentor said,
“It’s not about you or what you gain in the relationship. You are there to do what God is asking you to do in the relationship. Trust that whatever needs to happen will happen. If you’re fortunate you’ll know about it, and if not, don’t question whether you’re making a difference. If you’re doing what the Holy Spirit is prompting you to do or say, you’re making a difference.”
Finally, remember that a mentorship, like any relationship, takes work. But whether you are a mentor or a mentee, letting God work through your relationship can lead to real, lasting change.