Upon hearing the word “mentoring,” it’s easy to misinterpret the meaning behind it all.
From a mentor’s perspective, there’s the temptation to put pressure on ourselves to have all the answers. We may feel the need to slip into counselor-mode or to “fix” problems, even to be a flawless example to those we mentor.
Students may view it as a subtle implication that they need “help,” or may feel like someone is setting out to change them. Parents may view it as a critique of their parenting or the assumption that their child needs another adult figure, as if they weren’t doing their job well enough. On the other hand, some may hope the mentor slides into a parental or counseling role for their child, giving them a free pass.
Amidst the variety of perceptions on what mentoring is meant to be, in reality, it’s much simpler. It all boils down to relationship.
One of the conversations I often have with potential mentors and mentees, along with their families, is clarifying the role of the mentor and sharing the value of this kind of relationship. A mentor is a true gift—someone who is often a few steps further down the road than we are, who has an arsenal of life experiences and perspective to offer. A mentor is a listener, someone who sees us as we are and understands that the journey is a process.
In describing a mentoring relationship with mentees and their parents, I often share how I wish I would have had the opportunity to have a mentor throughout my growing up years. Not until I was moving into college and adulthood did I begin to understand the value and importance of having a mentor figure in my life.
Since gaining several mentors, I’ve experienced much growth, simply by having those extra sets of ears to hear me out and caring voices willing to speak truth and perspective into my life. The beauty of mentorship blooms in the daily walking of life, simply coming up alongside to support, encourage, and listen. Mentors don’t limit us, they empower us, enhancing our potential.
As we learn in life, more often than not, good things take time. And mentoring is no different. The process is just that, a process. Growth doesn’t develop overnight, nor does trust.
As motivational speaker Josh Shipp says, “Kids spell trust: T-I-M-E.”
The beauty of mentoring is the time invested, the time shared. It’s inspiring to see these relationships play out in our community. Watching our teens connecting with community members and bonding over shared interests, whether it’s baking, fishing, sharing coffee or ice cream, going for walks, window shopping, golfing, or going for a drive, is mentoring at its finest.
Time builds trust. Time is the currency of mentoring.
As mentors, parents, encouragers, and friends of young adults and teens, the best we have to offer is simply our time.
Who can you offer your time today?