Non-mentoring Mentoring

Sue Edwards's picture

       Young women hunger for mentoring, but did you know that the dropout rate of young women in traditional mentoring programs is as high as eighty percent in the first six months? Mentoring methods and styles that worked for my generation, yes, older women, don't work today. Remember Laura Singleton's May 6 blog When Mentoring Programs Fail. Ditto said young women interviewed by Dr. Barbara Newmann, my former D.Min. student, when she queried them as part of her doctoral dissertation. Her confidential interviews revealed that the formal, structured, curriculum-centered, mentor-centered approach favored by many older women does not appeal to this generation. So what works today?

      It's critical that we find out because the spiritual futures of a generation of dynamite young women depends on us older women getting our act together and figuring out how to walk with our younger sisters as we pass the baton to them. We can't let misunderstandings wall us off from one another.
      The present disconnect has left many mentors bewildered, discouraged, and unsure of how to proceed. The mentoring question comes up in every course I teach on ministering with women, and I, like so many of my generation, have been scratching my head for several years and asking the Lord for guidance.
      Be careful what you pray! Barbara and I, with our savvy intern Sheryl Lackey, are spending our summer scouring resources, interviewing insightful women, and searching out stories to make our end-of-year deadline for an upcoming book for Kregel Publications. We are grateful for the opportunity yet a bit apprehensive. We want to create a resource for mentors that will revolutionize their understanding of what non-mentoring mentoring is all about. We want to inspire every qualified older woman to make non-mentoring mentoring a must in her everyday life. And, by the way, many older women misunderstand what qualifies an older women to non-mentor, only one of many misconceptions. What we are slowly realizing is that the excuses older women give for not mentoring are the very things that younger women say they don't want in a mentor! That should open the flood gates!
      We would love help on our project. Non-mentoring is about community anyway, and God is still using others to shape our ideas. Laura, can we quote you? If any of you have stories, insight, quotes, or ideas, share them with us. They might just show up in the book. Comment on this blog or email me at
       And please pray for us as we try to pull these concepts together and present them with clarity, creativity, and wisdom. Many of you have written something and you know how daunting a task this is. We are not able, but we trust through God's strength and help from friends that He will do it. And He just might use you!


I too have been thrown into the midst of research, seeking a new approach to a women’s mentoring ministry. After 10 years in a Christian women’s ministry (where mentoring is a key component), I have committed myself to the development of a mentoring ministry that encompasses the "whole woman" Professionally, Personally and Spiritually.

Todays woman is different.  Todays woman is balancing the relationships between God, her family, career and personal development.  She is mother, wife, business leader and friend.  She is also a student, a teacher, a confidant and at times, a referee. 
We wonder why a mentoring ministry doesn't work... We are not meant to be "everything".  We ARE simply meant to be there.  Listening to each other, praying for each other,  gathering together in groups that are led by God. 
Mentoring isn't a "One on One" relationship. Think about it this way - even God is a trinity! The biblical examples of mentoring have been conducted in a drastically different manner than what we have been trying to do. It's no wonder this method does not work for very long.
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