I cannot remember a time when I did not feel lost—this may have something to do with my dyslexia but I believe most of it stems from being reared in a household rife with instability, chaos and confusion.
On the off-chance I was given advice, it was often expressed in a negative tone reflecting, “Life is hard. Don’t expect a lot and you won’t be disappointed.”
This insinuated life was an uphill battle. Those who were supposed to care acted as if I wasn’t worth the effort. Not only was it was up to me to figure things out, but I also learned I couldn’t count on relationships for guidance. I was truly on my own.
Since our family didn’t have the finances for vacations, I learned the art of seeking the counsel of dignitaries I never met. All my ‘travel’ and life experience came through the magical world of books. I’m convinced that my colorful imagination and ability to be happy in stillness is the silver lining to an un-eventful childhood.
As most bookworms can attest, there is a special kind of knowledge that is acquired through holding hands with someone who has walked the path before you. Life is not about reading about life. It’s about living it! It’s about sharing the experience with others, despite mistakes and imperfections. In fact, mistakes are a normal part of the learning process.
For many years, I read books, silently watching others as they went about their days ‘being normal’. I tried my best to figure out how to achieve my dreams because I wasn’t given the opportunity to see someone living them out before me. No one in my sphere was living a victorious life; life was centered around surviving, not thriving.
Since becoming a Christian, I’m reminded all throughout scripture, that God created the body of Christ to work together; we were meant to learn and grow from each other. The enemy desires that we stay in insecurity and isolation, but God compels us to sharpen each other. Working as a cohesive unit makes each of us stronger, more resilient and happier to boot!
Why have a mentor?
If you are feeling adrift in purpose or unsure of how to implement your goals, finding a mentor is a great idea.
How they’ve benefited me, personally.
- Lauren Hasson—Is a gifted speaker that inspires me with her passion for life, growth mindset, strategic action and generous heart.
What Lauren brings to the table: She speaks life into me; sees the things I cannot see in myself and bravely challenges me to step into my gifting, even if it’s uncomfortable. Her confidence gives me confidence. Because I respect Lauren’s opinion, what she says holds weight with me. Lauren lives a powerful life of bold confidence mixed with authentic vulnerability. She holds that space well and I am inspired by her ‘strength with a purpose’ as that is her ‘brand’.
- Amy Stoher—Is poised, gentle, kind and at the same time strong, purposeful and determined to finish her calling to the fullest degree.
What Amy brings to the table: She prays over me and gently encourages me by offering new ways of thinking/acting or re-acting to any situation. Before making any moves, I often ask myself, How would Amy handle this? Not because Jesus doesn’t matter but because Amy personifies the spirit of Christ in a feminine way. Seeing her actions and reactions inspires me to do things that might not come naturally. My goal is to live an elevated life and for that to happen, I must make adjustments in my thinking and actions. Amy lives gracefully, bringing obscure Biblical principals to life. I see the fruit of her labor as her beautiful family life reflects healthy balance and stable support.
- Manna Ko-Is an insightful writer who doesn’t allow her doctorate to stand in the way of being relatable or accessible.
What Manna brings to the table: She offers ‘big sisterly’ advice. Being an introvert living in the noisy, ‘look at me’ social media/digital age isn’t easy. I’m a very private person and my dear friend Manna is the same. If it was up to me, I’d happily type away in my writing cave until retirement or starvation called me out. Manna balances things well and I aspire to live and present myself in the same way.
What does a good mentor do?
- Opens new doors and expands possibilities
- Identifies and amplifies strengths
- Increases confidence levels
- Asks great questions (to help with prioritization).
- Prevents emotional decision making
- Moves the needle towards success (provides connections or accountability)
- Teaches how to tell the story better
- Is committed to the relationship
- Provides a comfortable environment of vulnerability
- Shares and cares (prints articles or provides resource recommendations)
- Has compassion (they’re relatable, take the time to understand and give the right kind of guidance)
- Listens without being judgmental (Allow the person to speak without interruption so they can process and come to their own conclusions or identify issues they hadn’t seen before)
- Is inspiring. (It’s the job of a mentor to inspire, not influence)
-Is authentic and genuine
-Shares stories of failure and success with honesty and humility
-Talks about those who’ve inspired.
-Boldly talks about my life’s mission and vision
-Shows genuine care and offers hope.
- Is a sounding board (Good mentors are a great place to discuss new ideas; it helps the mentee develop clarity on their idea or situation by providing real feedback.
Each of my mentors are busy. Their time is valuable. I don’t expect them to micro-manage my life or emotions. I see them as a stable support of sound wisdom when I am at a point of confusion or approaching a crossroad of important decision-making.
All of them provide a place of safety where I can be vulnerable without fear of being judged; they ask questions that provoke me to find the answer, which puts the ultimate responsibility back in my hands. They’ve verbally committed our relationship is long-term, which gives me the confidence to know they are not going anywhere, and I am truly loved.
Each has spoken life into me, highlighted areas of my gifting and encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone. They are not pushy but their confidence, inspires me to step into my greatness. They share personal stories of how God has led them out or through something.
Like any relationship worth its weight, each has invested their time, resources, meaningful gifts, education, opportunities and vehicles to help navigate me forward in life.
Unlike my early life experience, I am learning that people do care and are willing to go the extra mile for someone they feel is valuable. Their investment in me has helped to envision myself as worthy. Being surrounded by these incredible women has taken my existence from black and white to Technicolor with HD and surround sound! I am now able to see hope and possibility! I’m dreaming bigger because I am in the company of dreamers that don’t just talk about them but join together in making them happen!
These women have shown me the power of investing in others. If you want to step into your greater calling, show another woman her value. A mentor doesn’t need to be leap years ahead. Sometimes having a warm heart and lighting the path a few feet ahead is enough to help another soldier on. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about being willing to be there.
Prayer for mentorship and expansion:
“Lord, I pray that the peace I carry will be inherited by my whole family. I’ve stood in the gap and contended for them and my faithfulness to God, family and community will be fruitful. I refuse my natural inheritance and open my hands to receive my God inheritance!
I pray for expansion…that my dreams will be multiplied, not diminished.
That my faith will be full and not depleted.
That every area the enemy has attacked with insecurity and isolation, I’ll have the strength, fortitude and patience to continually wave the banner of Jehovah Nissi. My voice will declare victory in the darkness because I know the maker of the Son (and Sun).
Today I declare a fresh anointing of grace so I can shine the light of His glory to a hurting and confused land.
I speak clarity and focus as I envision and make plans with the Lord.
Lord, bring the people that will open up my full destiny; reveal those I need to sow into. I will be a graceful giver and a receiver of this beautiful gift of friendship and partnership.
I pray provision and connection as other’s destinies are attached to my specific assignment.
In Jesus’ name, I bless my mind, body, spirit and soul to be filled with the passion that carried the Saints before us.
I am called to greatness and the Holy Spirit has equipped my inner man for all that needs to be done. Let my spirit agree with yours as I rise up! May I never look back and never back down. For if God is for me, who can be against me? In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
*Follow my mentors and let them inspire you:
*A special thank you to author Ravishankar Gundlapalli, for ‘The Art of Mentoring’ a book that provided this outline.