Sometimes, those who are considering becoming a mentor feel daunted by the challenge, wondering how to go about it and what to do in certain situations. To address some of these questions, we’ve spent some time visiting with Marnie Wells. Marnie is a long-time mentor, ministering at Gilead’s Balm (www.comeinandrest.com), and is also a partner with by design and one of our blog contributors.
Although every mentoring relationship is different, many of the basics remain constant and Marnie sat down with us to share some of the wisdom she’s gleaned during her years as a mentor.
What do you do when someone comes to you with a challenge that she is facing in her life?
Go to the heart of the matter. I’m not a fluffy mentor; I don’t mince words well. It’s what I would want – for people to be direct with me – and that’s what I do for them.
Sometimes it’s situation-driven. No matter how strong a Christian they are, we all still have times of doubt. We’re either strong enough to put them to death or they sit and start to gather. We’re all on a road and we sometimes need a redirect.
And sometimes you just have to listen and let them go. If I interrupt, I may interrupt the flow. I just keep logging things in my brain, thinking “Lord, I know you’re going to bring those thoughts back to me.”
It seems like you don’t have to look for people to mentor – they just come to you.
A lot of the time people can tell when you’re a safe place. They know I’ve been through life. Some really nasty life. So they know I’m not sitting there never having heard any of that stuff. But I will be clear about making progress. If someone comes to me with a splinter she wants me to help her deal with and I see that she has a big, nasty, festering cut on her hand, I’m going to make her deal with the cut, not just the splinter.
Do you find that when your mentees come to you, they are willing to deal with the cut?
Sometimes they want me to just take care of it. Like, “Can you just text me morning, noon, and night?” I tell her “You know where I am, and you know what you need to do. I am happy to pray for you and be there for you. But it’s you who have to do the heavy lifting, get down on your knees beside your bed. It is you who have to connect with the Lord for the change to happen. You can do it today or you can do it in ten years, but it is only going to get deeper and harder the longer you wait.”
We want progress. If all they want is a place to vent every time they dig themselves a hole, then I’m not your woman. I tell them, “I love talking with you and you are an incredible woman, so when you decide to say yes to the Lord, come on back.”
What if they want you to be there for them every moment?
I say, “I will not let you suck me dry. Even though we’ve been through this together, it’s you that has to obey.” It’s easy to fall into a trap because there are needy people who will need you all the time. Boundaries are everything, and as you keep your boundaries, they will learn about boundaries. I never want them looking at me as a savior. Although it can be tempting because we all want to be needed. We need to be aware of ourselves, of what the Enemy wants to rise up in us.
So how do you encourage them to take ownership of what they’re going through?
99% of those I mentor are Christians, so we have that starting point. They’ll tell me their thing and I’ll ask, “what do you think the Lord says about that?” Sometimes they’ll say that they don’t know. And I’ll reply “Well the Lord does have something to say about that. He tells us. And we need to seek Him to hear Him.”
Over the last 60 years with the Lord, he’s given me lots of stories and lots of analogies. And I’ve used them hundreds and hundreds of times. Because when you put it in parable form, people say “OK.” They get it. And the Lord will bring those stories to mind at the right time.
How do you stay connected with those you are mentoring?
If, when you’re praying, God puts someone on your heart, reach out immediately when you feel the prompting of the Spirit. It can be as simple as a text to let her know that you’re thinking about her and praying for her, and that God loves her and has good plans for her.
People are hungry for the personal touch. We don’t have that in today’s culture.
Thank you, Marnie, for sharing your words of wisdom with us!
Got questions? Got insights? Email me because I would love to hear from you!
Thank you again for your faithful prayers and your partnership in this important ministry!
Keep hoping. Keep praying. Keep loving.
Kristi, for WeConnect