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The concept of mentoring is often focused on mentoring youth, And while it is admittedly an important and somewhat neglected activity in our society, a terrific sermon I heard awhile back on the concept of discipleship got me to thinking about "us women."
Many years ago, as a young wife and mother, I sought out some older Christian women in my life to mentor me. I have to admit, I did so with much hesitancy and a little bit of fear. I knew I needed and wanted some spiritual direction in those roles, and living so far from my own family, also needed some practical, day-to-day guidance about, well, honestly, about 'most everything! But I really had no idea how to ask for that level of investment and intimacy.
Then a few years later a church we attended started a big mentoring program for women. They sent out surveys...had meetings...sponsored events...all with the express intent of getting women together to mentor each other. It was a big deal! By that time I was a somewhat, um, older woman, and was excited about the possibility of mentoring someone younger.
But the whole process got so complicated...
What exactly is Mentoring?
Mentoring is one of those activities that was an integral part of life long ago. It is coming alongside someone, living life intentionally with them, and working together so that both parties can become the best they can be. It's really plain and simple as that! Combining our instant-information society with the ease and ability we have to change our zip code resulted in the concept of mentoring being left by the roadside for many years. Thankfully, it has become fashionable, or perhaps needed, once again. Taking a look at some of the characteristics of mentoring can help us understand...
Why Mentoring Is So Important
Although there are usually "older-younger" or "experienced-novice" parties involved, the neat thing about mentoring is that the benefits go both ways, whether it's offering a hand or just being a friend on the journey regarding parenting, their personal life, their spiritual life or their marriage... Here are the "Top 5" benefits mentoring enables us to both exercise and experience:
Influence - It allows us to be in a close, trusting relationship, watch another side "in action" and consider something new and/or different: whether it's an opinion or a belief or a way of doing something...
Education - To take things step further, we can actually learn skills and wisdom from each other, whether it's something brand new, or improving or deepening what we already do or already believe...
Encouragement - Who hasn't had a day when all it took was a word or even a hug when things weren't going so good? Or we were just tired? Mentors can become good friends...
Support - I can't tell you how much it has helped me over the years when a friend has gone out of her way to help me along with a project. There's nothing like someone going the extra mile to help you get started or get going once again.
Challenge - And in those times when we are blinded by our own "issues" or ignorance, a good friend and a true mentor will gently pull us aside and challenge us to re-think our actions or attitudes, or even flat-out point out where we may be going astray. "Better an open rebuke from a friend than a multitude of kisses from an enemy".
Why Mentoring is so important for homeschooling moms
In addition to the reasons above, mentoring is crucial for homeschooling moms. To have the benefit of wisdom and perspective that experience brings can make all the difference for a new homeschooler. There are and will be days - and we all have them - when we feel like failures, like throwing in the towel, totally unequipped for the task at hand. The friendship, wisdom, and support that a seasoned mentor can provide can help clarify and sustain us during those times. Knowing that you're not alone, that there are better days ahead, having someone to pray with and for you...I mean, those are just priceless gifts. And having been on both sides of the relationship, I speak from experience.
If you've come this far, friend, I would imagine your next question might be:
How can I get involved in being (or having) a mentor?
...which is a really easy question to answer!
Step 1: Pick up the phone.
Step 2: Call a friend and ask them to lunch, or coffee, or a walk...
Step 3: Live life intentionally with them.
See? It doesn't have to be complicated or formulaic. It just has to be real, and committed, and true. The blessings and benefits are beyond what you can even probably imagine!
But if you're looking for a terrific tool to help you get your head around this concept for yourself, let me introduce you to my friend, Sue. Her book "Table Mentoring: A Simple Guide to Coming Alongside" is written as I would imagine a conversation with her might go: with Scripture references presented as they relate, questions posed as they would naturally occur, suggestions and tips from her own journey that all serve to get us (me!) over any perceived hurdles to just. get. STARTED!
And for those who might need a bit more confidence-building, she also includes various worksheets, inspiring quotes, prayers from Scripture, suggested further reading, and other tidbits in the back of the book.
Just add a fresh pan of brownies, a pot of hot coffee (or tea!) and a heart hungry for someone to come alongside... And you can find her book here on Amazon.
Have an experience to share or question to ask? We're all here for each other, so please feel free to leave them in the comments below 🙂
This post is part of a 5-part series called Rest and Refreshment for Homeschool Moms. Each article offers a simple but unique way for moms to find "just the thing" to recharge and take care of themselves! Here's the complete line-up: