As a member of the 4word team, mentorship is part of my everyday vocabulary. Prior to working at 4word, mentorship was not something I really knew anything about. I pictured mentors as older men and women sitting behind grand desks, rattling off statistics and hard-earned knowledge to a furiously scribbling mentee sitting across from them in a fit of nervous sweat. A mentor did not sound like a very approachable or agreeable person to my novice mind. Why would I want to seek one out?
When I entered my working relationship with 4word, I was quickly enlightened to the reality that mentors could actually be incredibly sweet, insanely smart, and completely open people who really wanted nothing more than to see the next generation of professional Christian women rise among the corporate ranks. Mentorship became less dictatorship and more friendship in my mind.
It was so amazing to listen to testimonials from 4word Mentor Program mentors and mentees. Every session resulted in numerous stories of grateful mentees gushing over their God-ordained pairing with the exact mentor they needed. Likewise, mentors were quick to praise their mentees for their tenacity and receptiveness. Over and over, I would hear and read these stories, and yet, I still saw mentorship as an unattainable thing. Something I could never see myself receiving and certainly not giving.
Then one day I received an email from one of my co-workers, who happened to be in charge of the 4word Mentor Program’s pairing process. “We have a mentee signed up to take part in the next session, and I really think you’d be an amazing mentor for her.”
I called my teammate and actually laughed at her proposition. There was no way she thought I was cut out to be a mentor. What could I, a copywriter with a few years experience, possibly know that would even remotely qualify me to be a mentor to someone else? If anyone needed a mentor, it was me! My teammate spent the next twenty minutes or so sweetly convincing me to step out of my uncertainty and see where God could take me. I reluctantly agreed and with a horribly uneasy stomach, I hung up the phone.
There was no way I could do this, I told myself. My mentee would be able to sniff out in a heartbeat how completely unqualified I was to be her mentor and would likely promptly demand a refund. I struggle with insecurity and stress over unfamiliar situations, so my mind spun whenever I thought about the approaching beginning of the session.
I spent many worrisome moments in prayer over the next few days. I asked God to show me that this was what He wanted me to do. I begged Him to give me the words to say. I pleaded with Him to help me not look like a complete fool. Remarkably, I began to feel more at peace with my impending mentorship as it approached, yet I still had an underlying current of doubt coursing through me.
While going through the blog archive on the 4word website, I came across one of our blogs on mentorship which I had remembered loving the first time I had seen it, and now I was inspired to read it again. It’s a blog by 4word founder Diane Paddison, where she discusses her unlikely mentorship with Olympic athlete Lopez Lomong. Diane explains how she felt she was “preset” to be a mentor to a specific segment of the professional world, yet God had plans for her to serve as a mentor to Lopez.
I knew God had put this interview back in front of me for a reason. Convinced I was about to be paired with someone entirely outside of my professional world but confident I could handle it, I began looking forward to my intro call with my mentee.
The day came and the call happened. I started the phone call as happy and cordial as I could be, yet on the inside I was a tangle of nerves. It kind of felt like when you were younger and somehow found yourself in a conversation with someone way more popular than you, and you were just trying your hardest not to sound stupid.
As the call unfolded, I had multiple moments of chills and urges to burst into happy tears. My mentee was in a very similar field, had gotten a degree very similar to mine, and was dealing with things at work that I had recently dealt with. Oh, and she wanted to write a book, something I had also recently done. I swear I could hear God saying, “Told you.”
As the mentorship progressed over the next ten weeks, I was repeatedly amazed and inspired by my weekly phone conversations with my mentee. It was exhilarating to discuss and strategize time management, office email etiquette, and personal/professional boundaries. In helping my mentee, I myself was getting the unique opportunity to revisit transitional times in my professional development and really dissect why I had done what I had. I began learning and feeling enriched right along with my mentee.
Mentors and mentees, don’t make the mistakes I did. There is no “enough” level to measure your eligibility to help others. God can, and does, use anyone to be an instrument in His plan for His children. When we doubt our abilities, we doubt His plan.
To anyone feeling led to be a mentor, embrace it. Acknowledge that God wants to use you and open yourself up for the amazing and fulfilling ride He has ahead for you.
To anyone feeling called to be a mentee and find a mentor, get ready for an incredible ride. As you learn from your mentor and absorb everything they have to give you, know that your mentor is probably receiving just as much enrichment from you.
Mentorship is not a scary thing, nor is it a pretentious thing. It is an opportunity for two individuals to come together and pour into each other’s lives. At 4word, that mentorship goes a step further and addresses professional, personal, and spiritual chapters of the mentee’s life. I encourage any 4word woman reading this to seize this opportunity to take the next step in your life and apply to be part of the upcoming 4word Mentor Program session. It’s ten weeks you will never regret investing.
Do you feel called to be a mentor? Are you looking for a mentor? The 4word Mentor Program is currently accepting applications for the upcoming fall session. Visit the Mentor Program website today and submit your online application by September 1!