Nice to Know: Nine Tips for Mentors

My upcoming book, CrossWise Living: Navigating Transition, includes a section on mentoring. I tell the story of my friendship with Faith Greiner Field, who has taken the seeds I’ve planted in her life and is producing a harvest that far exceeds anything I could have accomplished on my own.

Faith recently wrote to tell me how she’s using what she learned from me to invest in the next generation. Her beautiful thank you letter is folded up in my jewelry box, where it will likely remain until the day my bereaved loved ones divide up my earthly treasures. I’ve included just an excerpt here because I believe that as you read about the simple things I did to encourage Faith, you will see that what I did took no special talent or herculean effort. It was rewarding, it was fun, and I received as much or more in every way as I gave.

Be inspired! You can do this! Think about it — what impact could you have in the life of another as a mentor if you’d be willing to trust God’s Holy Spirit to guide you?

Be attentive! — God has gifts he wants to give you: he wants you to enjoy the benefits and blessings of both being a mentor and being mentored. Who is he placing in your path?

Be grateful! Is there someone in your life you could gift with words of love and appreciation? The impact of your words will last far beyond the amount of time it will take to compose them them. Here are some of Faith’s cherished words to me:

“Gail, thank you for loving me so well. I think about you every time I meet with a girl or talk with my volunteers. I have made a list of things that you were to me and that I want to be to others.

  1. You cared about the things I cared about. You often let me lead out in conversation about things that were on my heart and mind. You never made me feel silly or juvenile for giving my attention to things that, looking back, seem so shallow. Instead, you cared and cared and cared and loved and loved and loved.
  2. You affirmed and pointed out my strengths. Remember the time you let me plan a party for my young adult group at your house? I think about that every time I have people over to my house (which is often) because that night you said, “Faith, you are really good at putting on events and bringing people together.” You gave me the confidence to continue to do that even several years later.
  3. You pointed out that I had the gift of exhortation and, because of your affirmation, I ask God to use my voice in that way as I minister to the people God has entrusted to my care.
  4. One of my deepest cares was whether I would ever get married. I thought I was too much and not enough for any man to ever love, but you never let me get away with believing that. Upon every visit you told me how beautiful inside and out I was, and helped me to believe that God did in fact have someone very special for me, someone who would love me for not only any outer beauty I possessed, but also my inner beauty.
  5. You shared your life with me, even things that you hadn’t shared with others. You were vulnerable, letting me into the good the band and the ugly of your life. My admiration for you grew deeper, as my understanding of the Lord and his grace through your story changed me. This became part of the spiritual foundation I stand on today, and the hope I cling to in times where I feel like I’ve lost my way. Through your story, I learned that God is gracious, and not only is He gracious, He is good. When we search for him we can find him, for he is loving, compassionate and forgiving.
  6. You were also honest about marriage and family, finances and your self-doubt. That honesty prepared me for my own marriage and life as an “adult.” You gave me the confidence to take life head- on and to not be so afraid.
  7. You inspired me to read, something that I still love to do today. This has opened my world to new information and wisdom that I use every day in ministry.
  8. When I cried, you cried, and you taught me that emotions were okay. Watching you cry made me feel like women can be strong and they can be emotional; the two can co-exist.
  9. One last thing I would love for mentors and mentees to know—something that you did—you never had any grandiose expectations of me. I was always running late and you never seemed to get mad at me. I would have to cancel sometimes and I never felt punished for it later. Even now, there is never any guilt from not seeing each other when we do get to meet up here and there.

I Love you!”

How about you? How have the mentors in your life helped you? Take a moment to share a comment here, and then write them a note thanks!