Organic Mentoring book cover
Engage

Why Many Mentors Are AWOL

We are experiencing a mentoring crisis. One key reason is that too many older women cling to an outdated formulaic idea of what mentoring is all about. When we hear the word "mentoring" we conjure up a picture that fit our experience as a young woman. Then we look in the mirror and don't see an adequate mentor staring back at us. Our preconceived ideas about what today's young women want in a mentor convince us we are not enough—but we are wrong. What we don't realize is that younger women today are far more likely to want a relationship with the woman in the mirror than the conjured-up perfect mentor in our head.

          Or we think about our busy lives and determine that we just don't have the time to invest in younger women's lives. That's because we envision a tight, often weekly commitment level, and we cringe. What we don't realize is that younger women cringe too. Most don't want nor will they allocate that many hours out of their busy lives either.

         Or we assume that we must step into the role of Bible-answer-woman. We think that we will need to prepare lessons from a formal Bible curriculum and teach our charges essentials of the faith—like how to share their testimony or how to memorize Scripture.  We don't realize that most young women today are not looking for a Bible-answer-woman. Instead, they want an honest woman with whom they can process life. They want to know God's perspective and biblical truth but they want it to relate to their specific situation right now. That's because many are wounded, in crisis, or anxious about the future. We'll explore reasons why in future posts.

        The bottom line is that our excuses for not mentoring are based on preconceptions that just aren't true anymore. Young women don't want what older women think they want! And the excuses that flood our minds when we hesitate to take on a mentoring relationship aren't valid today! Sadly, our ideas about mentoring keep us from stepping into a young woman's life, leaving too many young women without the care and guidance they yearn for.

          The Bible is clear in Titus 2:3-5. We are all called to mentor somebody and we all need mentors in our lives. But mentoring is not the formal "program" that it used to be in some women's minds. It's the natural connection between women of different generations helping one another live well. Reconsider mentoring as a way of life, for the furtherance of God's Kingdom and your own pure joy. (For more insight, read "Organic Mentoring" just released by Kregel Publications.)

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Sue Edwards

Dr. Edwards is Assistant Professor of Christian Education (Specialization: Women's Studies) at Dallas Theological Seminary and holds degrees from Trinity University, DTS, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is the author of New Doors in Ministry to Women, A Fresh Model for Transforming Your Church, Campus, or Mission Field and Women's Retreats, A Creative Planning Guide. She has 30 years experience in Bible teaching, directing women's ministry, retreat and conference speaking, training teams and teachers, and writing curriculum. Married to David for 34 years, she especially enjoys extended family gatherings and romping with her four grandchildren.