Who are your mentors? Who are you mentoring? Whether you want to be a mentor or are looking for one, what are the marks of a willing mentor?
Women’s relationships are extremely important to God and are used to shape us into the women God has created and called us to be. My favorite biblical story about mentoring is what is revealed about the relationship between Elizabeth and Mary. Through just a few words of Elizabeth’s expectant joy, we see a picture of a willing mentor who opened her heart and her home to a young woman in need. We get just a glimpse of their three months together during their miraculous pregnancies in Luke 1, yet this one short passage teaches us volumes about mentoring. And since we’re in the Season of Advent, I thought we would take the next four weeks to share some leadership lessons from the lives of four women who had a part in the events surrounding the birth of Christ and who were women God chose to be first in different ways.
Elizabeth’s example provides 6 marks you can adopt in your role as a mentor or look for in a potential mentor. As a willing mentor, you:
1. Look with admiration at what God is doing in the life of your mentee. Elizabeth is not jealous of the role of a younger Mary in God’s kingdom. Your words of encouragement are what your mentee needs to hear.
2. Allow your mentee to take up “space” in your world for a period of time. Just imagine: the elderly, mother-to-be Elizabeth opened her home and her heart during the last 3 months of her pregnancy to the unwed, pregnant, teenaged Mary during her first trimester with all the morning sickness and mood swings that accompany it. What generosity and love! This demonstrates how important women’s relationships are to God. No one else on earth could have understood these miraculous pregnancies like Elizabeth and Mary so God made sure they got together. Even in the midst of her own major life changes, Elizabeth made time and provided a place for a young woman in need of her unique knowledge and experience. You have experienced God’s grace in a unique way which may be the inspiration your mentee needs.
3. Are consciously aware of God’s activity in your mentee’s life and express joyful exuberance in that activity. Elizabeth is supernaturally made aware of God’s purpose for Mary and expresses heartfelt joy in that purpose. As a matter of fact, according to the biblical record, Elizabeth’s voice is the first human voice to confirm the coming birth of the Messiah to Mary. (Note: it wasn’t Joseph or any other man who provided that confirmation.) Through the Holy Spirit, you too can sense how God is working in your mentee’s life.
4. Express your thoughts with humility. Elizabeth’s humble acknowledgement of Mary’s role indicates her delight in simply getting to be a part of it. Whether you are responding to your mentee’s questions or offering helpful observations, you must demonstrate your own teachability and your need to continue to learn as well. You can be deliberate in finding ways that your mentee can teach you something.
5. Take time to listen to the heart cry of your mentee. Since Elizabeth was the first person to confirm Mary’s miraculous pregnancy, maybe that was Mary’s first opportunity to speak of it aloud. Can you imagine the joyful release that was? God may use you to be the first safe place your mentee will have to share a deep concern, joy, or question.
6. Realize that as you fulfill your mentor role, God is doing a new thing in your own life as well. Elizabeth is aware of God’s activity in her own life as a result of her relationship with Mary. God is allowing the people and experiences in our lives to help mold us into the people we were created to be.
Elizabeth’s expectant joy is an example of how we can approach mentoring as well as how we can approach this Advent season.
Now available . . . a one-page, no-prep-needed “shero” Bible study on Elizabeth to share with your group
Join the conversation in the Comments section below . . .
How does what you expect—whether positive or negative—affect your leadership?