Mentoring is a great way to help people along on life’s journey. Here, Carol Harrison points out some of her experiences mentoring and being mentored.
Some of my family loves putting together picture puzzles but I am not one of them. My youngest daughter, Amee, started with a 300 piece puzzle, moved up to 500, 750, and now 1000 pieces. There are times these pictures seem to have pieces that look similar in colour and shape. Her dad calls them camouflage. These are the hardest parts to put together and she usually leaves them until last. A couple of the puzzles have perplexed her and she needed some help to finish them. Occasionally, I even sit down to try and put in a piece or two.
Mentoring on the Journey
Sometimes we need a little help in putting together the puzzle pieces of our lives. It can be good to have a mentor or a coach walk beside you, offering encouragement and insights from a different perspective, from someone further along in the journey than we are at that moment.
General Norman Schwartzkopf, a US army general said, “You can’t help someone up a hill without getting closer yourself.”
What a lovely picture—climbing a hill, trying to conquer a goal, and having someone come to help you reach the top – reach your potential or your goal.
What does this really mean to me? What does mentoring or coaching look like and is there a
A Definition of a Coach
Merriam Webster dictionary defines coach this way. “One who instructs or trains; a private tutor.” The synonyms it lists include trainer as a noun and counsel, guide, lead, mentor, pilot, shepherd, show, tutor as verbs.
Mentor is defined by Merriam Webster as “a trusted counselor or guide, tutor or coach.”
Today we hear a lot about coaching. Of course there are the coaches for various sports at all levels of play. We have tutors that help with specific subjects of school work. There are those who can mentor or coach another person in a specific area they have expertise in such as finances, entrepeneurship, or skills like dance, music, art and art. There are also life coaches, some with lots of training and others just beginning and using life experience to help others in their journeys. There are also therapists, counsellors, and psychologists who are available to walk alongside someone else who needs professional help to deal with the tough stuff of life.
All of these people help someone else in a more formal type of relationship. Can you coach another person, help them out like a coach or mentor does, without going to school and getting training? It depends on the situation, but I believe we are all asked to help others where we can.
Mentoring in the Bible
Titus chapter 2 talks about teaching the older men and women and they in turn can teach the younger ones. Titus 2:3 says,
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.”
Verse 4 goes on to say,
“Then, they can train the younger women”
and lists in verse 4 and 5 things they can teach, all of which are things they should be displaying in their own lives. In other words teach others what you have already learned and experienced. Be that person who is further along the journey or closer to the top of the hill and goes to help someone reach that same level.
I have been fortunate to have a number of people mentor and coach me throughout my life. Some were informal and I learned by their example and the time I spent with them. These included my grandmothers and mother, aunts, and Sunday School teachers at church.
At times I had more formal life coaching. At first I felt reluctant to pay money for a formal one- on-one mentoring or life coaching with another person. Yet as I began working with a wonderful coach, I realized God had given me this opportunity to learn from a woman of faith who shared what she had learned about building your business and using that to honor God. She gave me things to think about, work through, and then we chatted about the challenges, the goals met, and where I needed more help with.
A Stumbling Block
One challenge I found, which became a stumbling block for me, was the assignment to write down what my areas of expertise are so I could identify my target audience. I don’t feel like an expert. I pictured a group of people with a target on them and I needed to aim at the bullseye. I didn’t like that picture.
But as I looked more at mentors, both formal and informal, in my own life, I realized perfection and expertise are not equivalent. I do know things, from training and experience, others might not know yet. I can share what I know with them about public speaking, writing, storytelling, and struggling through some tough times and depression too. I can walk with them, listen to them, ask them questions to get them to think, and make suggestions for them to try.
Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Mentoring Helps Others
We are in this together, created to be part of community and not remain isolated. Mentoring someone else gives opportunity to help each other, to sharpen each other, and work together through overcoming tough times or learning a new challenge God has laid on your heart. It means you don’t have to do it alone.
This quote by Jim Rohn sums it up, “My mentor said, “let’s go do it, not ‘You go do it’. How powerful when someone says let’s!”
Carol Harrison B.Ed is a speaker and published author with one book, Amee’s Story and stories in twelve anthologies. She is passionate about helping people of all ages and ability levels find their voice and reach their fullest potential.
She knows, through personal experience that some of life’s experiences are tougher than others. She encourages people that even in the twists and turns of life God’s amazing grace provides hope. She lives in Saskatoon, SK with her husband Brian. They have four adult children and a dozen grandchildren.