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  • Hannah Williamson

The Art of being 'Mentorable'

We often talk about being a mentor but what about the flip side - how can we set ourselves up for the best possible mentoring experience?


One of the biggest things I particularly hear female leaders say is that they cannot find a female mentor. Things like ‘I don’t know who to go to’ or ‘There isn’t anyone to mentor me’ or ‘The people who could mentor me are too busy and wouldn’t have time to give to me.’ Growing up as a young leader, the people who primarily poured into me from a leadership perspective was my Dad and my Youth Pastor. When I was a teenager there was not any other females on staff and certainly not any in the higher leadership roles within the church. I knew God had called me to full time ministry and so wanted to learn as much as I could and at that time the more obvious people were men. As I started my role as Youth Pastor I wanted to find another woman in a similar role who could pour into me, but the reality was there were not many about! There was one other woman I knew and I plucked up the courage to meet her but found that she was so different from me and I just didn’t feel we clicked. It was more of a one time meet than an ongoing mentoring relationship. My Dad modelled well what it was to find people to pour into you and he would often just make the ‘big asks’ of people asking if he could come and spend time with them asking questions. I guess I just followed suite and tried to do the same although it was not always as easy with there being such a lack of women.


One day a few days into my youth pastoring I was asked by my Dad to pick up a woman from the airport who was a missionary he knew and to take her to to a funeral that she was attending the other side of London. A typical random job you end up doing when on the staff in a church and so I got in my car and picked up this person. What was kind of funny now I look back was that the lady I was picking up, Angela came dressed in full Austrian traditional dress. I was not expecting this and wondered what kind of woman I was picking up! I did not realise she was going to the funeral of some previous missionaries to Austria and so wanted to show respect by wearing the traditional dress! I knew we had about an hour and a half in the car together and so in my nervousness thought of a few questions I could ask her. The drive was quite inspiring as Angela began to share her journey of hearing the call of God to plant churches in Austria. That car journey sparked something in me and I saw a woman who was leading in a way that inspired me. After that car journey, I took a courageous step and asked if I could come and visit Angela and her husband in Austria for a weekend to learn from her. There began a mentoring relationship which was quite unconventional at the time. Once a year I would make a trip to Austria and spend a few days asking questions and being challenged in my leadership walk.


Over the years what this mentoring looked like adapted and as FaceTime and zoom became more normal I asked if I could meet with Angela on a monthly basis for an hour. This mentoring relationship has become one that has given me great strength over the years and really has been a lifeline in the more difficult times in ministry. Angela is not the only woman I meet with. In fact since then I have made it my aim to learn from as many people I can both male and female but there are a few where I have set up more regular mentoring relationships - people who are further on than me in ministry and will give me some time to encourage and strengthen me in my walk. ‘Walk with the wise and become wise’ says Proverbs 13:20 and so that’s what I intend to do!


Although I am happy to learn from both men and women on the leadership journey, as a woman finding other women further on than me is important. I was racking my brain for examples in scripture of women mentoring other women - so many of the examples are of men but then I read in my daily bible reading about Elizabeth and Mary and it just struck me how powerful this relationship was even thought we see just a tiny glimpse of the story!


At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:39-45


Here are a few things I think we can learn from Mary and Elizabeth in order to capture the art of being what I like to call ‘Mentorable’ which really means positioning yourself to learn from others…



GO FIND YOUR OWN!

“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.’ Luke 1:39-40


When I was a young person I was assigned to a youth small group with a youth leader who looked out for me. She would ask me how I was doing, help me learn how to read the Bible better and encourage me in my faith. As I got older, the Youth Pastors fulfilled that role, inviting me to their house, encouraging me. And then as I interned I was assigned a mentor. When I finished my internship and began serving God full time, no one was assigned to me. It was time to find my own and learn to grow myself. I knew if I wanted to grow I needed to find someone to pour into me that was further on than me.


I love in the passage how it says Mary hurried to Elizabeth. Knowing the context you’ll know that this was after she encountered the angel and the promise from God. She goes to someone who has also had a miracle take place to share her story with. She didn’t wait for someone to come to her but went out and found someone.


When it comes to positioning yourself for mentoring, it might just take you looking around, being brave and asking if you could meet a potential mentor for coffee. I always find, when I have asked a woman if I can take them for coffee to ask them questions, it is rare that they say no. They are often flattered I would want to do that. I then ask lots of questions. Sometimes during this time, I am inspired but realise this is probably going to be a one time meet. Thats fine and Ill learn what I can in that hour, but other times, I think this could be someone I meet more often. And so I arrange another meet up. Note: its all on me to arrange and push forward. The ball is in my court. If they say no, its no problem…they may well not have capacity or space right now. Generally if I go for it ill find someone out of a group of people willing to pour into me.


MENTORABLE TIP: Don’t just meet with women who are in the same field of ministry of work as you - look for people who are leading well and ask for a one off meeting….you never know, it may grow into something more or you may just be blessed by that one time meeting - and make sure you pay for their coffee!!!

KNOW WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR

‘When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed, ‘blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!’ Luke 1:41-42


Mary would have known Elizabeth’s story. They were related and this type of miraculous story was not the type to be kept silent - we see that from reading her story in the precious verses of chapter 1. This was a faith story. This was a miraculous story. I think it was no coincidence that Mary went to Elizabeth. She probably knew she would understand the miraculous faith journey she was on.


For me, I was looking and continue to look for women who are doing wildly courageous things for Jesus. Women who are leading at a high capacity and are doing far more than I am. I once met a woman (as a one off mentoring session) in Italy who had planted 55 churches as a single woman. Thats pretty inspiring! I knew I wanted to meet her and even though she knew nothing about me, I made the big ask and she gave me 3 hours of her very busy schedule! You may be someone that has a real passion for children’s work and leading children to Jesus - look for someone who is doing that way beyond what you are doing. You may be someone who is leading a worship team - look for someone doing that who has a bigger team and is leading at a bigger capacity than you. Know what you are looking for and be on the look out for it!


MENTORABLE TIP: Write out a list of areas you wish to grow in and then look for people who could help you in these areas.

BE OPEN TO LEARN

“In a loud voice she (Elizabeth) exclaimed: ‘blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear….blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her.’” Luke 1:42-45


I love how Mary goes to Elizabeth and Elizabeth breaks out into a prophetic speech and most probably fills Mary with faith. When I am looking for someone to mentor me or just simply pouring into my life, I’m wanting something of what they have in God to rub off on me! What can I learn from them. When we look at Elizabeth there was so much to learn. She had had to wait for years for a child. She knew what it was to trust God. If you go back to chapter 1:4 it tells us that both her and her husband were righteous in God’s sight. We are told she struggled to conceive so she knew what it was to struggle and walk through pain. Mary had a long journey ahead of her and so Elizabeth who was further on than her both in age and maturity would be able to help her.


When you have arranged to meet someone, be open to learn and listen to the Holy Spirit in your conversation. The person you meet is not perfect and should not be idolised but they may have gone through something that you can learn from. Go with questions, ready to learn. Ask them about their journey into ministry, ask them about their time with Jesus, ask them how they manage their time, ask them what they are reading, ask them what their biggest challenge has been and how they have walked through it. There are endless questions you could ask, but go prepared. Lead the session or the time you have with the person - they are giving their time to you so make it easy by going prepared.


MENTORABLE TIP: Make some notes either while you are with the person or after you meet (make sure you tell them that is what you are doing, especially if you are typing on your phone!!)


YOU CHOOSE HOW DEEP YOU GO

“And Mary said, ‘my soul glorifies the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God my saviour…’ Luke 1:46-55


We see in the passage that Mary broke out into praise with Elizabeth expressing all that God had done. I often think how special it was that Mary had someone she could share what God was doing in her life with. We all need Elizabeth’s who we can open up to expressing both the good and the difficult! When it comes to mentoring it really is down to you to decide how much you want to get out of the relationship. You don’t have to share everything about your life with that one person. This is not a counselling session, but a relationship that is there for you to be encouraged spiritually and in your walk as a leader. Decide what you want to share. I know when I meet with my mentor, she may ask me questions but often at the end, she will say ‘Is there anything else you would like to share’ - that puts things in my court again. It may take you a while to get to the point where you want to share some of the more difficult things of leadership - again that is okay. I would say, however, if you keep everything on a surface level you probably won’t be able to grow so definitely decide beforehand in your mind, what you would like to share and then go for it!


MENTORABLE TIP: Plan what you want to speak about and don’t have a list of 10 things….you probably won’t want to take up longer than an hour of your mentors time, but maybe think of 3 things that you want to speak through.

UNDERSTAND THE SEASONS

‘Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.’ Luke 1:56


Mary did not stay with Elizabeth forever. In fact it was just for 3 months. We actually see no further mention of them meeting. Maybe they did? Maybe they didn’t? What we do know was that Elizabeth was most likely considerably older than Mary and so purely from an age point of view would not have been in Mary’s life forever. There was a season that their relationship was like it was. I have sometimes observed that people expect mentoring relationships to be forever and they get upset if that is not the case. But I think we have to be realistic in understanding that many relationships are for a season. There may be some that are very long term but others may not be so and that is okay. You may ask someone to mentor you that is very busy and they may say that for a year they can mentor you but they can only commit to that - thats not a bad on your part, that is just them being sensible and realistic with their time. Honour that time.


MENTORABLE TIP: When asking someone to mentor you, ask for a specific time. At the end of that time, thank them but do not push for more. In that time, they may feel they can give more which would be great but if not, be grateful and look for others. There are so many people out there to learn from!

There are numerous examples throughout scripture of people pouring into others. We can look at the relationship between Moses and Joshua or Elijah and Elisha or Samuel and Saul or simply Jesus and his disciples. The truth is to become better we have to get around people that are further on than us. If we want to grow in our leadership we have to find people who have walked the journey ahead of us. My challenge to you today is to make yourself ‘mentorable’ so that you can get the most out of any mentoring relationship you choose to be in!





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