Q&A with a Mentor

Q&A with a Mentor

This is Part 3 of our Mentoring series! In our first post, we talked about what a mentor actually is: Someone with whom you have a trusting relationship and who shares advice, experience, and encouragement. In the second post of our mentoring series, we talked about the different kinds of mentors: Spiritual, Professional, Peer, Older-and-Wiser. Today we’re talking with someone on the other side of the table to get her thoughts about what it’s like to be a mentor!

I have known Crystal since I was in middle school and she was a moderator on a blog which had formed into a community that I regularly engaged with. Since then, I have seen Crystal as an informal mentor as well as a friend. We talk almost exclusively via text, but she has long been one of the first people I turn to when I need wisdom, advice, encouragement, and prayer. There are many examples I could share that would demonstrate the kind of person Crystal is, but the one that leaps to mind is when she and her husband were vacationing in Germany while I was in Berlin with GoCorps. The two of them drove several hours out of their way to come see me in Berlin, then spent an entire day helping me move across the city to a new apartment (up three flights of stairs with no elevator), then helped one of my friends move as well! Then after all that, THEY treated ME to ice cream! Crystal has a servant’s heart and has long been a person I look up to as an example of being a true Christ-follower.

And now, an interview with Crystal!

In which capacity (or capacities) have you acted as a mentor before? (Spiritual, Professional, Peer, Older-and-Wiser)

      I have mentored teams professionally, as well as leading small groups and youth at our church. Currently, I am the local cookie lady, which provides a great connection with the school kids in our neighborhood.

Why do you think mentorship is important in your 20’s?

      This is an age where a person really comes into their own. High school is usually behind one, and “adulting” has settled in.  As much as we determine our lives at this stage though, there is just so much about life to learn. It can be helpful to have someone other than a parent to offer perspective.

What’s your favorite thing about mentoring younger people?

      Oh, it keeps me younger. Youth themselves are incredible mentors.  As a childless woman, mentoring younger people provides a connection to their world today, which is not necessarily the world I remember. There is so much they teach me.

Have you had any significant mentors in your life? Tell us about that experience. How has that shaped the way you mentor others?

      I have.  In high school, one of my teachers kept her room open at lunch hour, and I often ate there.  She was such an encouraging person, and I lacked that in my life.  We reconnected in our sixties; now we share about our lives as adults. She never knew how much she had influenced me with her kindness.  I had another mentor when I was older who did the same thing; regardless of what I accomplished (or didn’t) on a project, she found something positive.

What have you learned from mentorship?

      I think the most important thing is realizing that our actions matter, all the time.  I once had a young musician come to me and tell me how much I had influenced him as I encouraged him to continue sharing his music.  He had been ready to quit, and kindness kept him going.  If I think about people who have mentored me, kindness and encouragement had the most impact.

      I’ve also learned there are situations where a mentor/mentee relationship will not work. This was most evident to me when I had a small group I had chosen professionally; the work we did was recognized internationally. However, that group dynamic was astronomically impacted when the company reorganized, resulting in the loss of key members. It never recovered. 

How would you suggest finding a mentor to someone who doesn’t have one?

      Ask around. Read people’s socials to see what makes them passionate. Talk to people, especially people you admire. It may be that one of those will enter into a mentorship agreement, whether it is formalized or not.   

From your perspective, what’s a common misconception people have about mentorship?

      I think there is a misconception regarding how much time it can take. True, some formal mentorship situations do require a significant time commitment but mentoring doesn’t have to be a formal relationship unless it’s necessary to do so.

What do you wish people/young adults knew about mentorship? 

      It takes some courage to enter into that kind of relationship—but most of that battling is in our own minds.  If we can get past ourselves, we can learn not only that others can help us, but we could potentially help them.

 

Did you know that mentorship is one of the core values for GoCorps? No matter which of our 100+ placements you choose, you’ll have a mentor on the field to help you transition into ministry in your unique context. During the application process, you’ll also be mentored by our Placement Coaches. The GoCorps Coaches are kind of like professional mentors who will get to know you and help guide you through the process of discerning what God is calling you to do. Interested in talking with a Coach now? Fill out the inquiry form here.

Melody

Melody is a GoCorps alum who lived in Berlin, Germany for two years doing arts ministry. Now she is a GoCorps coach and mobilizer and loves talking with students about how God can use their passions and skills in overseas ministry. Melody lives in northern Virginia with her husband and giant fluffy dog and loves to read, dance, and drink chai lattes!