THE SIGNIFICANCE OF MENTORING
Why is mentoring significant? Because we [women] are called to encourage one another and build one another up as stated in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV),
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
As women of faith, we are to affirm one another, strengthen, guide, and assist one another in our faith walk. Women thrive on connection, and we cherish our friendships. Our friendships nurture us and create bonds. Mentoring also nurtures us, but a mentoring relationship is different from a friendship. Although both types of relationships offer the opportunity to connect and support on a deeper level, there are differences between a friend and a mentor.
Friendship versus Mentorship
We love our BFF’s, our girlfriends who offer us a safe and trusting shoulder to lean on when we need it the most. This type of relationship is a personal relationship. Our best friends fill many needs in our life whether we are single, married, divorced, young moms, working moms or empty-nesters you name it, and they are a part of it! Best friends babysit in a time of need, show up when life takes a turn for the worse, and appear at the drop of a hat when you need them the most. Friendships develop when two people share a common bond and share those similarities on a personal level.
Mentoring also offers support and guidance for both our personal and professional life although this type of relationship has a more professional affiliation. A mentoring relationship is supportive and nurturing with boundaries set in place. Mentors share their experiences, knowledge, and wisdom to help the mentee develop. Mentors invest in our lives as we search for significance. They add to our knowledge and wisdom while sharing their own experiences to cultivate our growth.
Friendship is defined by Merriam Webster as the state of being friends. Friends are attached to one another through a mutual affection – bonds we create with trusted girlfriends and confidants. Friends favor one another and support one another based on this shared bonding that takes place in the development of the friendship.
We must also be aware of the bias this type of bond can create. For example, I’ve experienced situations where my close friends will offer advice that is somewhat prejudiced due to their relationship with me. This is exactly why they are my close friends, they love and support me. But, to grow, I need advice that is free from bias. I’ve actually shared with my well-meaning friends, “you’re too close to the situation” or “you are so good to me, but I need some tough love!” It’s not easy to turn to a friend and ask for a candid answer or sincere feedback when the reply could be disheartening. A harsh reply could possibly do irreparable damage to a friendship.
Mentors serve.Mentors seek to uplift, affirm, and encourage others. Click To Tweet
I’ve been mentored by some marvelous women, and I’m happy to share that I am continually blessed by amazing women mentors of which I meet with regularly for the purpose of development. These women are instrumental to my growth. Their life experiences are a benefit, and I am certain my mentors cultivate my development in many areas due to their expertise and life experiences.
Most importantly, there is a mutual trust. I’m very comfortable confiding in my mentors. And, you should feel comfortable confiding in your mentor. There are times I feel it’s easier to disclose information to a mentor than my close friends or family members. My mentors bring an element of security to the relationship. I like to use the phrase, “been there, done that.” It’s reassuring to know (and hear) the words “this too shall pass” because they (my mentor) have experienced a similar situation. The reassurance of my mentor definitely adds to my wellbeing.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10: 24-25 (NIV)
The Challenges and Benefits
I believe it’s a bit of a challenge for a friend to serve as a mentor. This type of relationship could create a conflict of interest. Defined by Cambridge Dictionary, a conflict of interest is a situation in which someone cannot make a fair decision because they will be affected by the result. Let me say if a friend is concerned about the relationship, the decision to offer candid advice can be influenced by a fear of hurting the friend or perhaps losing the friend.
A mentor serves on a different level than a close friend. I hope you can understand the fine line between a mentoring relationship and a friendship. The advice of a mentor may not be popular or trendy but remember it’s intended to help you grow.
Mentoring is significant to my growth. My mentors want to see me succeed and this is a great feeling to know that whatever goals I set, they are in my corner. They give more than they take. They know when to push and when to nudge. I am comfortable asking my mentors for honest feedback and reflection because I know they have my best interest in mind. They encourage, equip, and empower me to be the best me.
No matter what form your mentoring relationship takes, mentoring will improve many areas of your life both personally and professionally. Trust me!
Mentoring is an incredibly powerful process for both mentors and mentees because we essentially sharpen one another as communicated in Proverbs 27:17 (NET),
“As iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens his friend.”