Mentoring - You've Got to Role With It

By Don Lewis, Mentor and Pathways Danbury Youth Ministries Board Chairman

While it’s true that being a successful mentor requires “showing up,” the true test of the strength of any mentor-mentee relationship is rooted in how well a mentor wears multiple hats.

More than just being a companion, a good mentor must be prepared to play many roles during the years he spends with his or her mentee.  Some roles will be required throughout the relationship; others perhaps for shorter periods. No two kids and no two mentor-mentee relationships are exactly the same. But there are some defined roles that successful mentors will – and should – take on throughout the relationship with their mentee.

They are: Teacher/Trainer; Positive Role Model; Social Supporter/Guide; Resource Supporter/Advocate; Challenger; Friend/Companion.

Today, let’s unpack “teacher/trainer.”

Webster defines “teacher” as a person who imparts knowledge to another; one whose occupation is to instruction. A trainer is a person who teaches things, but goes a step further and helps them do it. Think of a trainer at a gym; more than just saying “to build strong muscles, you should lift this weight 12 times for 3 sets,” he gets in the trenches and shows you the proper weight for your body and demonstrates the proper form, so you don’t hurt yourself.

Both of these terms have application for mentors as they develop a relationship with their mentee. As time passes, the mentor will find themselves continually switching between the two roles: that is, first you teach, then you coach the young person to develop what you have taught them. You help them put their knowledge into action.

The most important teaching/training we do as Christian mentors through Pathways Danbury Youth Ministries is to help the young person understand how the Word of God impacts their life, and how to depend on it to help them through tough times. Well tell them that the Word of God never loses relevance, even in a world that seems to want to bury and invalidate it. This is where we, as mentors, can make the most impact as we open the young person’s eyes to a better way for them.  We can help them, train them, to go a better way by following God’s plan for us. We may not see the immediate impact, but we’re in it for the long-term effect, anyway!

Teaching a young person can be one of the most exciting things you can do, as you are aware that, through you, God is impacting another person’s life.