We have seen the transformation that comes from women of different generations learning from one another and we hope for this experience for each one of us. Our mentoring program encourages women to bravely step out in willingness and say ‘yes’ to mentoring those younger than them and encourages younger women to allow someone who has gone before them to speak into their lives and walk alongside them. Written by Michelle Holladay, a mentor and Collide’s Next Steps Coordinator, we hope this blog encourages you right where you are at in your journey…
“I don’t have anything to offer!” This is the response I often get when I ask a woman if she will consider being a mentor. Why do we do that? Why do we discount our wisdom and experience? Why do we fail to realize that everything God has taken us through can be repurposed, that we have been given the incredible privilege to comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God? (2 Corinthians 1:4). We look at the young women in our lives and we think, “I have nothing you want.” But that simply isn’t true. If that was true, I wouldn’t have a list of young women waiting for a mentor and nobody to mentor them.
One of my favorite parts of my job as the Next Steps Coordinator for Collide is meeting with the young women who contact us requesting a mentor. Every time I meet with one, I walk away encouraged. These are the most incredible young women who truly want to live their lives for Jesus, and they are smart enough to seek out the support and accountability a mentor can offer. They want someone who is not their mother, not their grandma, not their teacher, someone who has no preconceived ideas about them, who will walk alongside them and offer them guidance. I don’t know about you, but that is not the kind of relationship I was seeking when I was in my early 20’s. So how extraordinary is it that these women are hungry for that?
It seems that every generation has had a little bit of trouble understanding the generations who come after them. We’ve all heard the phrase, and maybe we’ve even said it, “These kids today!” Yet with mentoring, we are being given this unbelievable opportunity to connect generations in a beautiful relationship where mutual respect and learning is taking place. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
And yet we find ourselves in that place of discouragement saying, “I don’t know what I have to offer.” It used to break my heart to hear this answer from women when I asked them to pray about being a mentor, but then I realized that what I really need to do when I hear this answer is invite that woman into a deeper conversation. It is usually the woman who gives this answer who has the most to give. Part of the reason she thinks she has nothing to offer is because she realizes she isn’t done learning yet, and that God still has plans for her. Because of that, she is able to walk alongside another woman as they seek answers together. It’s usually this woman who knows how to listen when times are tough. She knows how to encourage and support and love, because life has handed her a fair share of heart-breaking situations.
We don’t need mentors who have it all together, because nobody has it all together. We don’t need mentors who are prepared to solve someone else’s problems. We need mentors who will accept the invitation into a young woman’s story. We need mentors who are willing to share what it’s taken for them to get this far. We need mentors who say, “You are not alone, I am here to walk this path with you.”
Recently, I had the privilege of spending an evening with some of the amazing mentors in our program and as I listened to their stories, I was blown away by their generosity and love. It is such a joy to see their eyes light up as they talk about their mentees and the genuine pride in their voices as they share about how much growth they have seen in their girls. Some of the mentors were that woman who thought she had nothing to offer. And yet not one of them is sorry they said, “Yes,” because they have gained so much more than they ever thought possible.
“What would you tell someone who is considering becoming a mentor,” I asked one of our seasoned mentors. She told me the thing that made her hesitate when she was asked was the word itself – mentor. “It sounded so important and I didn’t want to mess it up.” What this mentor soon realized though, was that it wasn’t her responsibility to transform a life, that’s God’s work. It was her responsibility to simply show up the one or two times a month they met, to love her mentee, to offer encouragement, guidance and prayer, to ask good questions and pay attention. Her mentee has since moved away, yet the relationship they have built had such a huge impact on both of their lives that they continue to stay in contact. And this mentor can’t wait to be paired up with someone new.
Have you ever considered being part of a life-giving mentoring relationship? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to spend some time with you and answer your questions.