Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Finding a Mentor/Being a Mentor

Betty Southard in her book, The Mentor Quest said about mentor myths:
“Even the title ‘mentor’ often scares away a potential mentor or seeker. It implies lessons, structure, discipline, accountability, and maybe most discouraging, time…we don’t really want to spend a lot of time working on growth.”

A couple days ago someone who once was very important in my life and spiritual growth made a comment to me. It brought back not only memories of how she influenced my own growth, but how much I adopted her style into my own mentoring of others. I had been going along wondering just what my next step should be, realizing how bored and uninspired I've been lately, and along came Bev--at just the right time--to awaken me to remembering what God called ME to do. I remembered some of my goals in writing at that point. I had contemplated writing in directions that wasn't really me, and just her one encouraging comment made a huge impact on me. Those are what I call God-moments!

I hear a lot of people question just how do you find your mentors--and how do you recognize them or get them to mentor you? Here's a few tips I've learned.

Recognize your own responsibility for your growth.
I realized that I'd gotten lazy in my growth, stagnating, floating on my back. I needed to quit thinking of what could've been and get on with it.

Look for mentoring in everyday activities and chance encounters.
Sometimes a person mentors you without them being aware of it. You don't have to bother them, just absorb the moment. This happens a lot for me when I read countless blogs I'm fond of dropping in on.Recognize the mentors around you. Wherever you are, keep a teachable spirit. People who read my blog teach me so much, as well. I'm often encouraged by the comments left here.

Southard says to list people who make a difference in your life.
( I adjusted it to writing, too.)

Here's a list to consider:
1. Teachers from school/conferences/editors/agents/Bible studies.

2. Three writer friends/friends

3. Five people who taught you writing/(or taught you whatever you wish to be mentored in)

4. A few people who made you feel appreciated or special (in writing, if it applies)

5. Five people (writers)with whom you enjoy spending time

6. Heroes (Authors) whose stories (writing journeys) inspire you.

These people mentor you. Maybe it is a conscious thing or maybe not. But becoming aware of those mentors and mentoring moments, can only add to your growth.

You can also be any of the above at one point or another, can't you? I know I have been, and I feel a great responsibility to respond at times, just like my mentor, Bev, did for me this week (though she wasn't even aware she had mentored me so much.) It's a scary thing to think someone is watching you, admiring the way you deal with issues (in whatever field you wish for a mentor) because we all know we are only human. Ultimately, if you are a Christian, we should keep our eyes on our Ultimate Mentor--Jesus. But God also places people in our lives either directly or indirectly to help us to grow.

So, can you tell us about one mentor in your life? How did that person come into your life?


Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Crystal -

The simplicity of this mentoring approach holds great appeal.

Years ago, there was a saying about values being "caught, not taught." We tend to overcomplicate things.

In Scripture the older women are told to teach (mentor) the younger women how to be good wives and mothers. It's all about those having more experience giving newcomers a helping hand.

Thanks for a thoughtful post.

Susan :)

Karen Lange said...

This is interesting, especially in light of today's self centered society. I think we all need to be aware of the witness and influence we can have on others, but then, we shouldn't stress over it either. The Lord should be our guide in this and all things.

I like what Susan said about 'values being caught' There's many facets to this mentoring thing. We can't and shouldn't force it, for who likes things shoved down their throat? But we should be conscious of it and strive to stay on top of things spiritually. Make any sense?

Good post, Crystal! Thanks for tolerating my ramblings:)

Crystal Laine said...

Susan, you are one that I "catch" much from and I appreciate.

Karen,you make perfect sense. You bring up a really good point--sometimes people can get "proud" in their mentoring and do try to teach you "for your own good." No one wants that!

But quiet, gentle and just living with values, like you and Susan do, makes people stand up and notice.

Yes, we should be aware that there are younger women watching us. I like to think about some of the women who have influenced me, mentored me. If they are still with us,I think I'll take some time to pray for them.

Good thoughts! :)