This is part of a series on this topic that was raised at XChange, a leadership event focused on conversations around the table with among various generations of women. Please read Part One and Part Two.
Today, let’s address some practical issues about mentoring the postmodern woman. Here are some responses again from our leaders of various ages at our April 2014 meeting.
How Often Should We Meet?
First, we asked how often they would like to meet with a mentor. Most indicated they want at least weekly or twice a month but many expressed the need to connect in between face-to-face meetings. That would include texting, calling and any other form of communication, even social media. The focus was more on fluidity in the connections rather than a hard fast rule. Part of this was due to the complexity of life and busy seasons during the year. This is especially crucial when you are including college age women in your ministry. Their lives change drastically every few months as semesters begin and end.
Women also wanted to know that when things come up unexpectedly, they could connect with their mentor or mentee at that time. It was also noted that along with spontaneity there needs to be healthy boundaries in place. That might mean that certain times of the day or week were off limits due to work, church, or family commitments.
How Long Should We Meet?
Second, let’s talk about how long women expect to be mentored. There were varied responses, which indicates it may depend on the relationship and the individuals involved:
- Be in relationship until the next season of life.
- Meet long enough that you feel confident as a growing Christian.
- Conclude mentoring at natural ending points in life, such as high school and college.
- Communicate the length mentoring at the start of the relationship so each knows the expectations.
- Understand it might not end but change and look different in different seasons.
- Meet long-term or ongoing to build the relationship, not compartmentalize it.
How Should We View This Relationship?
Here are additional comments that address what is needed in an ongoing mentoring relationship:
- Quantity is not as important as quality of time together.
- The length and the frequency of the times together need to be decided on between mentor and mentee.
- There may need to be structure, but maybe not depending on the needs of the women.
- It’s important to know your season; that way you will know who to connect with at the right time.
- You might just begin as prayer partners and then let it grow from there.
- If the mentoring relationship doesn’t work, be free to stop.
- Be careful of any unhealthy attachment on part of a mentor or mentee.
In the last part of this series, we will address the idea of intentionally mentoring with those who come along behind you — Part 4 is coming soon. For more help on this subject check out the categories for Generational Ministry, Leading Young Women, and Reaching Women.
Mentoring Resources: Mentor: How Along-the-Way Mentorship Will Change Your Life is a six-part Bible study from Dr. Chuck Lawless that explores the life-transforming process of a mentoring relationship. Also, Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level and Women Reaching Women: Beginning and Building a Growing Women’s Ministry both include information on mentoring relationships.