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    The Essential Factors in a Mentoring Relationship

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    Every mentoring relationship has a place at which it begins. In some relationships, it is something that started from youth. In other situations, the mentoring relationship is instated later in life. Either way, every good mentoring relationship begins with several different things playing into the formation of that relationship. In some relationships the mentor seeks out the mentee, in others the mentee seeks out the mentor, in others there is mutual seeking between mentor and mentee, and in others it is simply a situation that brings together the mentor and mentee.

    However the mentoring relationship is initiated, it is important that the mentor and mentee meet one another where they are at. The mentor cannot come into the relationship making it apparent that he or she simply wants to change the mentee. The mentor cannot just jump straight into fixing when a relationship hasn’t been established. The mentor has to prove that the relationship can work regardless of whether the mentee changes.

    One factor that plays into the original formation of the mentoring relationship is attraction. One or both sides of the mentoring relationship may see something in common between them. A mentee may see something in a mentor in which he or she wishes to grow in. There may be a chemistry that may be inarticulate but that creates an open atmosphere between the mentor and mentee. There is sometimes a specific need that drives the relationship and sometimes there is just a longing for a mentoring relationship that drives it. Either way, there is something that draws the mentor and mentee to one another that may not always begin as mutual, but in order for the relationship to deepen and further, must become mutual. Some mentoring relationships come out of a long-term commitment, while other relationships stem out of an immediate need of a mentee.

    Once this attraction or other factors bring a mentor and mentee together, the next step in a mentoring relationship is to establish a covenant. This covenant is important in the beginning of the relationship and becomes more and more important as the relationship pushes further and further. The covenant made recognizes that human nature will eventually cause one of the people in the covenant to push back and try to back out of the relationship when things get difficult in the relationship. A covenant voices the goals each person has for themselves and for the other member of the mentoring relationship and lays out a consensus as to the goal and focus of the mentoring relationship.

    Something else that is essential to a mentoring relationship is responsiveness. While this seems like it primarily needs to come from one side of the relationship, responsiveness needs to come out of both ends of the relationship. Both sides of the mentoring relationship need to have a willing attitude. The mentee needs to be willing to listen to the wisdom of the mentor.

    Along with this willingness comes openness and transparency. The mentee needs to be willing to change his or her views and drop any statement of ignorance in some areas where the mentor is clearly correct. The mentor needs to be willing to hear the mentee out in whatever he or she has to say and listen. With this willingness from the mentor, the mentor needs to go into the relationship with a level of humility, recognizing that he or she does not have all the answers and there is something for him or her to learn from the mentee. A major aspect of responsiveness is respect. The mentor and mentee need to have a sense of respect for one another in order for either to show any responsiveness.

    Responsiveness requires humility. The mentee and mentor both need to be vulnerable, while the mentor needs to be more careful about the level of vulnerability he or she displays because it could be potentially be dangerous to the mentoring relationship. Mentoring is a give-and-take relationship that means that both the mentor and mentee can benefit. The mentee needs to be willing to follow the direction of the mentor while the mentor needs to be willing to learn from the mentee.

    Accountability is another huge aspect of mentoring. Accountability first steps into the mentoring relationship in the covenant established between mentor and mentee and continues throughout the entire relationship. There has to be a sense of follow-up in a successful mentoring relationship. One person asks the other person whether they followed through on what they said they would do. In order for accountability to work, there has to be trust in the mentoring relationship, which will grow as a result of the beginning chemistry and time furthering the relationship.

    Accountability brings a sense of responsibility. The responsibility of the mentee is to be responsive, respectful, and willing to learn from the mentor. The mentor is not responsible for the mentee, but responsible to the mentee. The mentor is responsible for contributing to the well-being of the mentee, not for the entirety of his or her well-being. Accountability pushes the mentee to look back using memory, look through using thinking, look forward using imagination, and to look around using community and the mentor can help the mentee to work through this.

    One reason behind the mentor being responsible to the mentee and not for the mentee is the aspect of empowerment. In a healthy mentoring relationship, there has to be empowerment. One or both sides of the mentoring relationship needs to be empowered throughout the relationship and after the relationship may come to an end. When a mentor is responsible for the mentee, the mentee is dependent on the mentor and is set up for failure in the future. To be responsible to the mentee means that the mentor empowers the mentee to the fullest he or she can while also linking the mentee to other resources and mentors.

    Part of empowerment is the calling out of potential. So many people are unaware of the potential within them and are in desperate need of mentors to call out their potential and expound upon it. A strong mentor looks at a mentee, lets them know what he or she sees in them, and leading them toward that. Once potential is called out, the mentor is partially responsible to draw out that potential and help them to reach that potential and teach them to continue in that journey beyond the point at which the mentor can help. It is important for a mentor to empower the mentee to the potential he or she originally sees and help the mentee to cast a vision for the future.

    This vision is monumental to the mentoring relationship and begins in the very beginning of the mentoring relationship when a covenant is established. A vision needs to be set up with both the mentor and mentee in mind. It is very likely that at some point both the mentor and the mentee will want to give up on the vision, but it is essential that the mentor holds to that vision. It is likely that when the mentoring relationship gets difficult, the mentee will push back, just as discussed in the importance of the covenant, and will want to give up on the vision. But it is the job of the mentor to hold strong to that vision and keep it alive, even when it seems like it may fail.

    A major part of a mentoring relationship is listening. It is very rare for people to be effective listeners and this is something that is so important in a mentoring relationship. People are used to others talking at them. Listening is not a passive activity, but is active. A mentor needs to be able to actively listen to the mentee, asking questions to dig deeper and get the mentee to talk more. The mentor needs to be able to show that he or she is interested in what the mentee has to say and learning more about who he or she is. This requires not only listening to the mentee, but also listening to God using holy and wholly listening. As the mentor listens to the mentee, he or she should also be listening to what God has to say about what the mentee has to say. Listening also plays hand in hand with hospitality. As the mentee talks, there has to be an understanding of confidentiality and safety in the place and person he or she is confiding his or her secrets in.

    Another major function of a mentor is protection. A mentor needs to be able to make the mentee feel safe in the relationship. A mentor needs to be willing to stand up for the mentee. When the mentor sees the mentee in danger, whether mentally, physically, psychologically, or spiritually, he or she needs to be willing to protect the mentee. This is one area in which push-back may occur. Sometimes protecting is hard. When the mentor sees the need to protect the mentee from something he or she doesn’t think he or she needs to be protected from, the relationship can get challenging. But the mentor needs to stand by the stance of protecting the mentee at all costs. This is where a sense of risk can step into the mentoring relationship.

    The mentor needs to be willing to take the risk of calling the mentee out in order to protect him or her. It is at this point that the mentor needs to see the ultimate goal of the relationship to be the well-being of the mentee despite of whether or not the mentoring relationship continues. If a mentor is too afraid of losing the relationship that he or she is not willing to take the risk to protect the mentee, then the mentor is missing the point of the relationship and might as well give up on the relationship.

    With a vision in mind, a mentor needs to be able to inspire the mentee to press forward. A mentee may want to give up on a vision and even after pressing past that, a mentee may only want to go through with the vision because they feel that they need to follow through. But it is the job of the mentor to inspire the mentee to press forward, to get the mentee to want to press forward. The mentor has the vision in mind and keeps the mentee excited about the vision.

    A mentoring relationship cannot work unless there is a commitment of faithfulness. No mentee in his or her right mind will share deep secrets with someone who won’t stay by his or her side. A mentor needs to show the mentee that he or she is going to stay by their side through good and bad and that he or she will walk with them through whatever they go through. The mentor needs to prove that situations will not decide whether or not the relationship presses forward.

    A mentor does not need to be in direct contact with a mentee in order to be in this relationship. These types of mentors who do not have direct contact with the mentee lead by example. The mentee learns by watching the mentor’s way of life. It is important for all mentors to have integrity, but it is because of this specificity of the non-direct mentoring that it is especially important for these mentors to have integrity. Mentors need to be able to stand by what they say and to do what they say they will.

    Sometimes a mentor is simply not available to a certain mentee and the mentee needs this type of non-direct mentoring relationship. This relationship takes out the specific seeking of the mentor and leaves the seeking to the mentee. In fact, this mentor does not even need to be alive. Through books, videos, documentaries, etc., a mentee can learn from a mentor.

    With all of this in mind, a mentoring relationship will come to nothing if it is not based in love. The mentor needs to love the mentee where he or she is at, but too much to leave him or her that way. Love will hold sway in every aspect of the mentoring relationship from beginning to end, from attraction to covenant to risk-taking. Love will lead the truth to be spoken and lived out in mentoring relationships. Love and truth go hand in hand in a mentoring relationship and without one, the other will crumble. Mentoring is not an easy or short process, but one that takes time, effort, love, and much more to bring to full fruition.

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    The Essential Factors in a Mentoring Relationship. (2022, Nov 29). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/the-essential-factors-in-a-mentoring-relationship/

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