I’m pretty accessible most of the week. Like a lot of gals, I keep my cell phone handy and respond to texts almost immediately. And if you email me, you’ll get a speedy reply, too. But on Thursday mornings starting around 10:20, don’t bother me. I have plans. Important, sacred, guarded plans.
Around 10:20 a.m. on most Thursdays I’m pulling mugs from the kitchen cabinet and turning on the flame under my red teapot. I’m pulling the tea from the pantry and giving the kitchen table a final once-over. My mentor will soon arrive. (I began sharing about this relationship here, if you missed it.)
What a Session Looks Like
When Victoria arrives, my dogs and I eagerly meet her at the door. We exchange hugs and warm greetings, and head for the kitchen…where I pour the tea and my precious mentor gently, humbly pours wisdom, grace and truth into my life.
Maybe that sounds corny and old-fashioned to you. But it feels warm and satisfying and plum delightful to me.
Mentoring is one of those arrangements that seems sort of fuzzy around the edges until you bother to give it a little more definition. Admittedly when Victoria and I first set up this relationship we didn’t really know how it would take shape. So we began with a lunch date where we expressed our ideas and desires. A few of the parameters that we settled on include:
- a commitment – We didn’t want something that would fizzle. We committed to give it at least 6 months, but left the end date open.
- a topical approach – Each week we cover a different topic. More on that later.
- focus – We committed to keep our meeting times to an hour and a half, and to stay on track with our discussion as much as possible.
- flexibility – While we try to meet at least 2-4 times per month, we have to work around two busy travel calendars since we are both speakers.
- mutual learning – I consider Victoria the older, wiser woman, but she is open to learning from me, too.
If you are considering entering into a mentoring relationship, I suggest you set some flexible but meaningful parameters up front. And they can certainly be different from ours. You might prefer to “learn as you go”, having conversations while in the car running errands or as you hike a trail together. You might prefer to read through a book together instead of just covering various topics.
Actually Victoria has recommended no fewer than half a dozen books to me since we started this journey in January and I have either finished them or at least loaded them onto my Kindle. We are both voracious readers and she has recommended some wonderful titles.
During our half a dozen meetings since mid January (those speaking schedules have limited our meeting times a little), Victoria and I have committed full sessions to the topics of friendship, parenting adult children, devotional times and message preparation. We’ve lingered on that last one for a while since it is such a big part of who we are and what we do.
We usually begin our session together with Victoria praying. Then she gently leads the discussion, while I pipe in with incessant questions. This woman is so wise. I take notes. And I go back and read over them and pray over them and share them with others. I truly feel like I’m mining for treasure and my efforts are being richly rewarded.
Indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
How Do You Find a Wise Gal?
Let me share something important with you. You will occasionally encounter someone who seems wise, who has a lot of wise things to say. But while all sorts of people can say wise things here and there, only a handful of those you encounter will truly be wise people.
Wisdom is not so much identified by wise and pithy sayings. Wisdom, according to James 3:13-18, is revealed by lifestyle and character and demeanor. Wisdom is not words situated together nicely in sticky statements that pack a punch. Wisdom is demonstrated first in good behavior, gentleness of spirit, humility, order, purity, peaceful living, the fruit of the spirit and genuine transparency.
Then…when you find a person who personifies wisdom…you lean in and listen to what they have to say. And, quite honestly, you have to lean in…because they won’t be filling the room with their own words. The wise person is more prone to be listening and observing than they are to be spouting their own ideas.
We live in a time when it is crucial for us to grow in wisdom and understanding and discernment. Otherwise we will struggle to navigate the issues of the day. And we certainly won’t have what it takes to advise or teach or counsel without wisdom. But don’t look for wisdom from those who eagerly offer wise sound bites. Instead, listen to those who are hesitant to share because they still feel they are learning. They are reticent to offer advice until they have prayed about the need and searched the Scriptures for clarity. And they are quietly, peacefully living a life worth emulating.Wisdom isn't a sticky statement illustrated. Wisdom is godliness demonstrated. Click To Tweet
How Do You Set Up a Mentorship?
- Pray about it. Ask God to lead you to a person growing in wisdom who is a few steps ahead of you on a similar path as yours.
- Don’t wait for perfection. You simply need someone who is noticeably obedient to the Bible, someone who esteems God’s Word above all other standards and someone who walks humbly with the Lord…who is a few steps ahead of you.
- Pray about how to approach the person. Ask God to go ahead of you and work in their hearts before you approach them.
- Ask. Don’t wait to be asked. Ask. Respect their busy schedule and priorities. Allow them to say “no” if they need to. But inquire about the possibilities. Be brave! It’s worth it!
- Offer some parameters: Could we try this for 4-6 months? Could we just meet once every other week?
- Give the person time to think and pray about your proposal. Don’t expect an immediate answer.
- If they say yes, value their commitment to you by keeping your commitment to them. Be on time, read the assigned reading, have questions prepared, engage in the conversation, take notes and respect their privacy.
If you’ve had a profitable mentoring relationship, I’d love to hear your perspective. And if you have questions about mentoring or being mentored…let’em rip!