To be entirely honest with you, when given the task of writing this article on mentorship, I was not entirely sold on the idea. Firstly because I did not have a mentor of my own. Secondly, because I struggled to come up with any reasons why I actually needed one. You see, right now, I am thoroughly enjoying learning and applying what I draw from Christian teachings and the word in my work and personal life. Also, if I don’t understand something or need direction, I believe that God often leads me to discuss it with someone that can assist me. I can’t really complain about anything.
At the risk of sounding arrogant, in order for me to understand why anyone would need a mentor it was necessary to personalize the issue. I had to ask myself why I would need a “mentor” when I can draw from teachings, the word and those around me (friends, colleagues (current and former) and clients (current and former)) for guidance and support?
Because I was not entirely sold on the idea of mentorship for myself, to write this blog post I really had to dig deep remind myself that “I can to all things through Christ that strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Armed with this powerful word, my attempt to answer the million dollar question posed earlier, led me to read various articles on mentorship. I shall now try to humbly address some questions that I had on mentoring in order to find out what value add it might have in my own life.
What is a mentor?
In an article titled: “How to start a mentorship relationship” career coach Chrissy Scivicque (Forbes.com) provides the following definition:
A mentor is a more experienced (typically older) professional in your field who offers you career guidance, advice and assistance from a real world point-of-view.
To provide a Christian context, S. Michael Houdmann (CEO of Got questions.org) defines a mentor in the following manner:
The word “mentor” is defined as “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.” Although “mentoring” doesn’t appear in the Bible, Scripture does give us numerous examples of mentoring. Moses was mentored by his father-in-law Jethro, first as son-in-law and then as a leader (Exodus 18). Jesus mentored His disciples (Luke 9), and both Barnabas and Paul excelled in mentoring (Acts 9–15).
I must say that Chrissy Scivicque’s definition of a mentor was close to my own understanding. S. Michael Houdmann’s definition on the other hand, made me feel a bit guilty. If Moses had a mentor, Jesus was a mentor and both Barnabas and Paul excelled in mentoring, should I at least not have a mentor of my own? Is it not one of the blessings in our inheritance and Christians? Now that I see that there was quite a bit of mentoring going on in the Bible, I start to change my mind about wanting a mentor.
How would a mentor add value?
To paraphrase a number of articles on the Top Women for God Facebook page and Linkedin group, a mentor can add value in the following manner:
- A mentor assists you set and achieve your goals
- A mentor assists you in making hard decisions
- A mentor assists you in overcoming challenges
- A mentor assists you in acquiring new skills
- A mentor assists you by providing you with an independent view of issues that you are dealing with
- A mentor is helpful, regardless of where you are in your career or the state of your personal life
All of the above seemed to me, a tall order for one person. However, if Moses, Jesus, Paul, Barnabas and others in the Bible have successful mentorship cases, it must be possible.
A testimony from Rachel Jay
In the article titled: Unexpected Mentors (Today’s Christian Women’s Blog) Rachel Jay shares her initial reservations about mentors:
“I’ve never really thought of myself as someone who wants a mentor. I’m pretty self-sufficient. I hold my cards close to my chest, and—for better or worse—it’s not in my nature to talk about a problem or decision in-depthly with many others.”
Rachel Jay, like myself was not entirely sold on the idea initially. Her article describes how she began to see the mentors in her life, two former bosses that she would meet with from time to time for marathon lunches. They would offer her guidance, leaving her relived after each session. Rachel Jay describes this type of mentoring as “organic and a natural extension of a persons care and concern for another person”.
I must say that after reading this article, and agreeing with Rachel Jay’s description of mentoring, I realized that I do in fact have more than one mentor (they might or might not know it).
Blessed with a number of mentors!
I mentioned earlier that I have a number of people that I look to (friends, colleagues (current and former) and clients (current and former)) for guidance and support. I have been blessed (by the grace of God) with not one but an array of people and resources that I can draw from/on for guidance. Some of these relationships I can, in hindsight, classify as a mentorship relationship. That being said, the organic type of mentorship relationships I have, should not preclude anyone from formally seeking a mentor. They truly add value to your career and personal life.
During the month of October the Top Women for God Linkedin group and Facebook pages have featured quite a number of articles and teachings, including those quoted in this post, on mentorship. In these articles, career experts, those in ministry and regular women like me share good lessons on mentorship, how to find one, what the relationship should consist of and other issues relating to the mentor, mentee relationship.
If you have any comments or words of wisdom relating to the topic of mentoring please do not hesitate to contact us.
About the Author
Gladys Chandia is a project manager and co-founder of Notable Beginnings Consulting (NBC). NBC provides business development and business linkages (FDI facilitation) services for companies that wish to penetrate new markets on the African continent. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org