What is Mentoring?
The definition of mentoring depends on the person, the situation, and the goal. Mainly, it is pouring yourself into another life to help that person learn and grow.
In a professional or career sense, a mentor may be someone in the career you'd like to pursue. For example, if you want to be a game developer, you might connect with an adult who is already in that field and is willing to give you a pointer or two. Or you might even connect with an older student who knows more than you and can teach you some of the ropes of programming.
Mentoring can be a formal procedure, with meetings at regular times and places, a structure, defined goals, and perhaps even a set time for ending the mentoring relationship. Or it can be informal. You may ask someone to intentionally mentor you, or you could simply follow the life of an individual you respect and learn that way.
As a mentor, you encourage a person, set a good example, and help that person achieve goals. You could even be a mentor for a younger sibling.
In a personal sense, a mentor helps you see who you are and what you want to do with your life, either in general, or in a specific area. A mentor doesn't tell you who you are, but helps you discover and grow.
How a mentor can help you:
- Share advice based on his or her experience.
- Offer tips on how to get ahead.
- Teach you information about a job, industry, or goal.
- Give you emotional support and encouragement.
- Help you explore the answers to the challenges you face'often by just asking questions and helping you help yourself.
- Listen to your ideas and thoughts and tell you if they?re good, bad, or need some tweaking.
- Pray for you.
Ways to be mentored:
- Follow blogs.
- Read books.
- Attend meetings where your favorite speakers will be presenting or teaching.
- Ask a teacher from school, a youth worker from church, or an adult you respect to meet with you to help you in a certain area.
- Take online courses, or watch online videos featuring your area of interest.
In a spiritual sense, a mentor helps you grow closer to God by helping you learn how to pray, study the Bible, or explore who God is and who you are in God's sight. A mentor may help you explore how you can serve God as only you can do, with your unique gifts.
How to mentor someone else:
- Spend time with that person.
- Respect that person as an individual whom God has created and loves (especially if it is your sibling!).
- Listen, listen, listen. Listen more than you talk. Listen to learn: the person's dreams, fears, who the person really is, and their abilities and strengths.
- Pray. Ask God to show you how to best help the one you're mentoring.
- Encourage the person. Show that you think he or she is important.
- Help the person move in the right direction toward dreams or goals.
- Help the mentee determine challenges and overcome them.
- Think about ways you can give the person ideas or tips.
- Be a great example.
- Enjoy being with the person. Have fun!
Being a mentor is not a drag. As you help another person, you learn more yourself and receive a sense of fulfillment. One of the reasons God put us on this earth is to serve each other and help each other.
Compiled by Jeanette Littleton.
Please note: This article was originally published in 2013. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.