The word “mentoring” carries a lot of baggage.
Women make certain assumptions, many of which cause them to run from mentoring.
Here are a few assumptions women make about mentoring:
1. It’s always an older woman meeting with a younger woman – It’s not about age. It’s about experience. One woman just needs to be a little further along in her spiritual walk than the other. Every woman of every age can benefit from a mentor.
2. It’s a huge time commitment – It doesn’t have to involve weekly 2 hour meetings. Yes, there are some women that may want/need that and have a schedule that allows for such. Most mentoring can be done while women are doing other things – i.e. watching a soccer game, walking at the park, grocery shopping, over lunch, etc.
3. The mentor assumes the role of Dear Abby/Pastor/God – Mentors are not counselors. Few have the degree or the training. They are good listeners. They may ask thought-provoking questions. They never give advice (unless there is a real safety issue such as in the case of abuse). They make referrals to counselors and other services that are qualified and trained to help in those areas that they are not.
4. Is not for me. Whether they think they don’t need it, their problems are too big, or their schedule won’t allow, we need to make sure we share what a blessing mentoring can be. You women may need to be reminded that God created us to be in relationship with one another (and with Him).
There are two ways to purge your mentoring ministry of baggage and false assumptions.
1. Change the name of your mentoring ministry.
2. Change the way your run your mentoring program.
I strongly suggest you task your Mentoring Team with the job of renaming your mentoring ministry. Give them time to pray and brainstorm.
Suggest the new mentoring name:
- Be welcoming
- Be inclusive and inviting to women of all ages (our team had ideas that we decided were too young and too old sounding)
- Communicate the new vision
Your turn to share: What do you call your mentoring ministry? Does it draw every woman in?
You may also want to read:
Mentoring Programs & Resources
How to Minister to Angry Women
A Fresh (and much needed) Approach to Mentoring
Watch Out for These Mentoring Pitfalls!
Changing False Assumptions Women Make About Mentoring