Olivia is a young woman I have been in a mentoring relationship with for several years. One day I found myself at a pivotal point in my relationship with her. Olivia is very intelligent and inquisitive. She asks big God questions and she often asks many of them. She has a hunger to learn all she can about Jesus and live a life closely tied to Him. She called me one day and the conversation went something like this:
“Hey this is Olivia. I’ve got a question and I need an answer. Do you have a minute?”
“What’s up?” I asked.
I was not prepared for the barrage of gigantic deep questions that came:
“If God loved Adam and Eve why would He let them sin?”
“How am I going to ever be able to heal from my adoption when I don’t even know who my birth parents are?”
The questions got even bigger and more complex and she wanted answers. This was a pivotal moment for me. It was time to put aside my pride and admit I didn’t have a specific answer for her questions. Olivia needed answers, not a some feeble spewing-out from me. The following quote from a book called Organic Mentoring by Sue Edwards and Barbara Neumann illustrates what I knew to be true in this moment with Olivia:
“The greatest need of many women in the next generation is a caring shepherd who sees her and offers guidance and stabilizing truth.”
I experienced this in my own life with godly women who had mentored me. Now it was my turn to do the same for Olivia. I needed to show her that she could trust me to model humility and realness for her by saying,
“Olivia, I’m not sure about the answer to your questions but let’s search for them together.”
An honest “I don’t know,” is more powerful than a prideful, vague answer that doesn’t satisfy the question. At the very least it causes confusion and at its worst defames the Word of God. As mentors, when we prove to be trustworthy and authentic we honor God and we build a holy, healthy relationship.
It’s okay for a mentee to wrestle with their questions. A mentor doesn’t need to rush in to answer every question. The most important things a mentor can do is to encourage them to meet God through prayer and scripture and then pray for God’s wisdom for the mentee. This heart-wrestling allows them to forge their own unique relationship with God and not be so dependent on their mentor. Once they do the searching it makes the mentoring time richer because both can participate in chewing on the answer instead of the mentor spoon-feeding the answer to the mentee. Both will learn and be richer for it in their relationship with God because they learn from each other.
Even when they have wrestled with the questions, prayed and sought scripture, there may be times when they feel they need for more explanation or help with a specific question. Always be willing to have a safe voice speak into the conversation like a pastor, counselor, or trusted mentor.
If you find yourself on the verge of being trusted as a mentor or maybe at a place with a friend seeking guidance, there are three words that are needed to establish a successful relationship:
~~As you consider these three attributes, I also invite you to seek God’s will for how you may walk alongside someone who may need your story to speak into hers. Pray that God gives you a tender discernment, a loving patient heart, and a will bent towards His purposes for you and the person He may call you to mentor.~~