It’s probably a silly question to ask you if you’ve heard the word “mentoring” before. But it’s a less ridiculous question to ask if you really know what it means. It seems like there are a lot of definitions floating around now days. But it wasn’t always this way.
Back in our first year of marriage and our first year of full time ministry I was feeling pretty lost. My Mom and Dad had recently moved to another state to pastor a church (this was in the days before the internet.) In addition, I had very few girl friends in my life. All of my college friends were getting married and moving on with their lives. I felt alone. After being lonely and wondering exactly HOW I should do this pastor’s wife thing, I decided that I needed some women friends in my life. I know it sounds weird, but I didn’t even know how to make new friends outside of school! So I decided to go to a Women’s Prayer Retreat at a camp grounds 3 hours from my house. I knew no one else who was going. I just decided to go by myself.
At the Prayer Retreat, one of the speakers talked about this new idea called “mentoring”. I had never heard of it before, but it resonated with me. I spent the weekend asking other women what they thought of this idea, is it compatible with ministry, how do you find a mentor? And I prayed. I actually prayed for 3 months that the Lord would lead me to a mentor. I kept my eyes opened when I was at church, and I found a mentor. I admired her ministry in the church. I respected her family values. I thought I would enjoy her company. But I still didn’t know what a mentor was supposed to do exactly. One day I went out on a limb and asked her if she would be my mentor.
She was just as bewildered by this word as I was. But after praying about it, she decided to try it. She laid some ground rules with me, which I thought was very wise. She said, “No gossip, No talking bad about our spouses, and everything that we discuss is confidential.” So over the course of the next few months we talked regularly. We talked about ministry. We talked about the things I was struggling with. We talked about home making- I was learning how to sew and she was a Home Economics Teacher, so that was fun. We talked about marriage and children. I watched her. I imitated her. I modeled my thinking after her thoughts. I grew a lot.
I was thankful that the Lord gave me someone mature and respectable like her to walk with me through my early growing phases. I learned that not only can mentors be someone that you know personally, but they can be a person that you “know” by reading a book about their life or someone that you watch from a distance. You don’t have to meet for coffee once a week to GLEAN from someone’s experience. I wanted to tell you this story about a mentoring success, because tomorrow I’m going to talk about what happens when mentoring goes to the extreme. Just so you don’t think I’m jaded, I wanted to preface tomorrow’s blog with a good experience. So hopefully you’ll come back tomorrow.