What Does It Take to Be a Mentor

by Rev. Horace Hough, Director, Pathways Danbury

For the better part of two decades, the men who serve at Pathways Danbury – the founding ministry of what would become Jericho Partnership – have been dedicated to changing the lives of at-risk youth and impacting the local high school drop-out rate through mentoring.

They’ve been successful because Pathways mentors commit to fostering a long-term relationship with their mentees – so that they can get real, go deep and be authentic.  Leaders in mentoring have discovered that such a relationship is the best way to affect significant change – the sort of change that takes a boy off the city streets and, eventually, puts him in a cap and gown.

At Pathways, that’s exactly what’s happened, as 98% of the boys who have been mentored for four or more years have graduated from high school. A large percentage of those have gone on to higher education while others have transitioned successfully into the marketplace. Mentoring works.

So what does it mean to be a mentor?  And what does it require?

Simply put, a mentor is someone who has a desire to invest of himself … to give the gift of his time, his compassion and his friendship to a boy who may not have such a relationship in his life.

The qualifications are simple:

  • Be accessible to your mentee
  • Be willing to listen
  • Possess warmth, openness and patience
  • Allow Christ’s love to flow through you, as an example of a Christ-centered Man of Honor

Responsibilities include:

  • Be a friend, advocate, coach and listener to a mentee on personal, school, career and other issues
  • Meet with the mentee a minimum of one to two hours per week, for at least two years
  • Participate in training and supervisory meetings with Pathways staff
  • Participate in special group events and activities

Being a mentor is about showing up, being present, and showing interest in someone who could greatly benefit from such an investment. And loving them as Jesus would. It’s not always easy, but the benefits of being a mentor greatly outweigh the challenges and sacrifices that might become bumps in the road.

Imagine seeing tangible evidence that you’ve helped transform a life. Imagine what it feels like to share your wisdom and experience with someone who faces more challenges than most people could imagine. Imagine seeing a mentee donning a cap and gown and getting a diploma. Imagine what impact that THAT– multiplied by other mentors/mentees – can have on a community.