On the surface, mentorship seems like a simple concept. But when you dive deeper into the process of mentoring someone or being mentored, you quickly learn that effective mentorship has many intricacies woven throughout. Glenna Flokstra, Chief of Operations for 4 The World Resource Distributors (4WRD) and 4word: Springfield leader, talks with us about her passion for mentorship and its potential impact on the mentor and mentees lives, if one simple “secret” is followed.
Tell us a little about yourself!
I direct a non-profit organization with my husband, Gary, in Springfield, MO. I have been serving the Lord since my teen years. My husband and I were appointed missionaries for 19 years and during that time lived in Belgium and then the Philippines. We have two grown children who are happily married, and we have four grandchildren, who are the delight of our lives. In addition to the full-time ministry with libraries and schools overseas, I enjoy and receive a sense of fullness and satisfaction by mentoring women. I love walking, camping and reading when I have the time.
Where did your passion for mentorship begin?
My passion for mentorship began back in the mid 90s after a two-year depression while living in the Philippines. Back in those days, neither counseling nor mentoring were readily available in the U.S., let alone in the Philippines. It was a very difficult time and I tried to be proactive in finding help from other missionary ladies in our area. There were at least 40 of them. We had a monthly breakfast meeting with missionaries from all backgrounds. During those meetings, I tried to pick out a few ladies that I thought would be able and willing to help me. I approached them in private meetings and told them what I was going through. Unfortunately, none of the ladies I approached were either willing or able to help me. They offered prayer but nothing beyond that.
My husband helped me as much as he was able, and eventually I started taking some counseling classes on the campus where we lived and through those and small groups starting “counseling” myself. Eventually, I did meet with the teacher of the classes and received some counseling.
Upon returning to the U.S., I found out about a correspondence program called Institute for Pastoral Counseling and I signed up for a three-year program that required a one week intensive per year. Though the next five years, I journeyed a road to insight, growth, maturity, and skills to help me with life skills, cope with situations in life, and how to battle in my mind for healthy patterns for thinking and behaving in all areas of my life at all times. I am still on this journey.
After coming through that experience, I reflected on how alone, isolated and abandoned I felt and the rejection I experienced in seeking someone to help me walk through that journey. In prayer one day, I promised God that if I knew of or had a girl come to me needing help I would never turn them away but would offer whatever help I was able to give and in doing so at least help them to feel accepted, that they didn’t have to face their difficulties alone. From then on, I kept my eyes and ears open to women around me and offered help when I sensed some was needed.
This promise led me to oversee a mentoring ministry in our local church to walk alongside ladies that were going through counseling with the pastoral staff. We would be available to them between sessions to pray, listen and offer prayer and help. After a couple of years, my mentors were expressing a need for training to address the needs of the ladies they met with, so, with the Lords help and direction, I developed a nine-week mentoring workshop that equipped them with skills to help them help others. This training workshop was miraculously given to me over a period of weeks and months when God would wake me up in the night and I would go to my computer and write what He brought to my mind.
To what areas of life can mentorship be a benefit?
Realistically, a mentorship can benefit any area of life. We had mentors that helped newlywed ladies learn how to cook, or new mothers learn how to care for their newborn, in addition to marriage relationships, parenting helps, workplace challenges or short falls, and relational and emotional challenges or lack of skills.
There are many definitions of mentoring but the one I prefer most comes from a mentor of mine, Jack Rozell. He says, ‘Mentoring is an agape (love) relationship in which the mentor imparts (their) life using all the resources available to model, encourage and empower (another) in the process of increasingly realizing his/her potential in Christ.’
Should mentorship be dictated by the mentor or more “self-led” by the mentee?
In my experience, it has been both. I think the person being mentored knows what areas in which they want help, however they may not know that there are other areas of their life that affects that initial area. So we start with what the mentee states as their perceived need for which they want help. There are many areas that one sees as a need in their life. It could be empowerment, accountability, wisdom, information, confidence, insight, direction, development of skills in various areas of life and work.
A mentor intensely invests in that relationship by transference of knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, experiences, information, insight or being an accountability partner. In the process, the mentee and mentor explore options to empower the mentee to make informed, mature, and confident choices. In doing so, they also increasingly realize their potential in Christ.
In a mentor/mentee relationship both people have responsibility, the mentee has the responsibility to be open, honest and share their concerns, dreams, and goals. The mentor is responsible to listen and try to understand what the mentee is saying and what need. There is shared responsibility of confidentiality, decision-making (with the mentee the one responsible for those decisions) and transfer of learning and growth. In other words, one should always be able to show healthy patterns of behavior and thinking in all areas of one’s life, not just during our mentoring meetings.*
Having been a mentor and a mentee, what are some long-term benefits you’ve gained from both of those roles?
I have found, without exception, that during a mentoring relationship, the learning is not one-sided. As a mentor, I always learn new things from mentees. It’s one of the reasons I am invigorated by the mentoring process. Each mentee brings fresh new experiences and situations to be explored. It keeps me on my toes and in learning mode as well as mentoring mode! It is also refreshing and satisfying to watch a mentee grow and change before your eyes, to also hear them confirm the growth they have experienced and the way that growth has affected their lives and relationships, both with others and with God. It is inspirational to see how the skills they have learned have turned around a situation they were in and at an impasse but now they have successfully navigated that situation.
As a mentee, I am amazed at how God puts mentors and mentees together. For me it has always been just the right person at the right time. The mentor helped me explore not only those areas I saw as a need but opened my eyes to other areas that also needed addressed in order for my life to become fuller, richer and more precisely lined up with God’s direction in my life. They have helped with learning new skill sets and ways of thinking about circumstances in my life. Helping me to explore options that are available and taking responsibility of making wise decisions on my own. The greatest tools I learned while being mentored was the acquiring of Biblical coping techniques and life skills for day-to-day struggles and thinking patterns. The concern and support the mentors showed enriched that experience. As I understood what I believed to be true, why it is true, and how truth is applied to my thoughts, attitudes and actions, I was able to measure and see a steady forward progression toward the likeness of Christ.
Why should someone invest in themselves through mentorship, either as a mentor or mentee?
I am fairly confident that not a single individual is completely adept at every life skill and has great relationships with everyone in their life. All of us have deficiencies in our lives and many of the obstacles we face are due to our inability to address those obstacles because of our deficiencies. I believe that I will never stop learning new skills and ways of relating until the day I stand before God. If a mentoring relationship will provide skills for relationships and obstacles, then why wouldn’t a person want to be mentored? Unless, of course, they are completely satisfied with their current life, work and relationships. Are any of us? I would be very surprised to hear anyone say yes.
In addition, the fulfillment of knowing you have helped another on the journey of life to successfully maneuver their personal difficulties, is unlike any other type of fulfillment. I look at it as paying it forward and backward. I know others are investing in my life on a regular basis and so I want to also invest into another’s life. Furthermore, I am achieving the Biblical mandate of Galatians 2:2 where Paul tells us to carry each other’s burdens, and in that way you will fulfill the law of Christ – to love one another. What a great way to live out that command!
Anything else you’d like to share?
The secret of mentoring is to help a person to get where he or she is willing to go. Not one of us are perfect but ALL of us have something to share with another person. God’s Word assures us that each of us has been given gifts and talents and the reason He has given them to us is to help others. Mentoring and being mentored is about improvement and direction, not perfection. Our experiences help us to help others. All of us have different experiences at different times, but once we have successfully overcome our obstacles or learned new coping skills and mechanisms, we are ready to share with another how we did it and that they can too! I will never regret any mentoring or mentor experience I have had. There was always something beneficial in each and every one.
*Taken and adapted from J. Doverspike and D. Liche, Emerge Ministries, Akron, OH
Glenna resides in Springfield, MO and is Chief of Operations for the non-profit 4 The World Resource Distributors (4WRD), www.4wrd.org. 4WRD is committed to enhance the effectiveness and success of education by strengthening neglected, underfunded and understaffed libraries worldwide. Her and her husband Gary (Gerard III) founded this ministry in 2004. Prior to starting 4WRD, they were appointed missionaries for 19 years and lived in the Philippines and Belgium.
Before Covid, they traveled 2-3 times a year to help libraries in the majority world with projects, evaluations and librarian training. While in the US they work online with answering questions, providing support and shipping books to these libraries. This year they have shipped over 80,000 books around the world from their 10,000 square foot warehouse. Some of these going to Tanzania on a 40’ sea container.
When not doing the ministry of 4WRD, Glenna and Gary enjoy hiking, walking, camping and reading. Glenna continues to mentor women on an ongoing basis as requested and has recently agreed to help Ministries Resources International as an Adjunct Counselor using a Zoom platform to help ministers and missionaries around the world to learn life skills for coping with the challenging issues of life.
Glenna and Gary have been married 42 years have two adult children and four grandchildren who they adore and love being a part of their life activities.