Since I started really building my own faith, I have been supremely blessed to have a number of incredible women of faith in my life. These women have been spiritual mentors to me, and without them, no way would I be where I am now.
- family members (how lucky am I?)
- Bible teachers (the kind of teachers that speak Scripturally or not at all, none of that touchy-feely stuff that makes me start looking for the door)
- friends (the kind of friends that call you on your crap when you need it, and lift you up when you need that)
- role models
- and some of them took on a more formal mentor role.
I had one woman in particular who met with me monthly to talk about whatever I needed to talk about, and she always spent hours with me, all the while shaping my worldview into a biblical one. She also happens to be one of the most delightful human beings on the planet, and you just feel better after being around her for two minutes! Honestly, I could write an entire post about every single one of these women, and they deserve it. (But they don’t want it.) I’m telling you all of this to give you the context for one of my strategies with Sarah.
Spiritual Mentors for Preteens and Teens? Absolutely!
Since women mentors had done so much for me, and since I realize that the older Sarah gets, the more she needs other influences besides me, it made all the sense in the world to line her up with a mentor, right? And, hey, if one mentor is good, then three is great, right? Having so many incredible women of all ages at our church and in my circle, I set about finding and recruiting these mentors. Obviously, I had to know and trust these girls, so they were thoroughly vetted…by me. Don’t miss that I am making a point that her mentors were other girls. In most cases, the mentor relationship is going to work better with same-sex mentors. To give you the timeline, this was when Sarah was in 7th grade.
Spiritual Mentor #1: Just a Little Older
I had one girl who was just a couple of years older than Sarah. She was the daughter of Sarah’s small group leader, and she was a rockstar. This girl was very bold in her faith, living out modesty and good judgment, and pointing people to God whenever she had the chance. Plus, she was outgoing (Sarah is an introvert), and embraced her own quirkiness. The first time we met, she showed up at Starbucks in a short Batman cape. She wasn’t trying to be like everyone else, and she didn’t care how much she stood out. In fact, standing out gave her more of a platform to talk about Jesus. And Sarah thought she was cool and a lot of fun to be around. So, I talked to her mom about it, and they agreed to be on Team Sarah. One down.
The second mentor was a girl who was college-age. She was a total superstar, too. She’s actually the younger daughter of my monthly mentor, so I knew the family and knew a lot about the girl. She was living out a godly life in college and had been growing in her faith for many years. She was definitely mature for her age, and had such a sweet and welcoming personality.
Sarah already knew her because she had babysat a couple of times when the kids were younger. I trusted her completely. And get a load of this- When I texted her to ask her about mentoring Sarah, she texted me back…from Africa. She was working at an orphanage, but would love to dive in when she got back. She sent me a lengthy and thoughtful text. Um yes, we’re willing to wait for you! So, when she got back, she picked Sarah up for their first get-together. Two down.
Spiritual Mentor #3: Twelve Years Older
The third one was a little older, but still a young woman. She was in her early twenties, single and working. She was one of many daughters in a family that I knew well. I knew her mother from a two-year lay leadership training I went through at our church. Again, this was a young woman who was mature in her faith and living a godly life. She was my one introvert in the mix, so I knew Sarah would relate to her disposition that way. We made arrangements, and they met at Chick-fil-a while I sat another table and read until they were done. Three down.
Why I’m Giving You So Much Detail
I’m giving you all of this detail for two reasons:
- You should absolutely consider doing something like this for your preteen or teen. And the three mentors I got collectively made a great team. I had three outstanding young women of faith, all in different seasons of life and all ahead of where Sarah was. Through these three, Sarah could see what her life might look like in the foreseeable future. And she could get three trustworthy, but unique, perspectives, on anything. All three were sweet, fun, and totally dedicated to the Lord. It’s a good blueprint, so I encourage you to consider it if you pursue this for your own daughter or son.
- The second reason for all the detail is to tell you that, despite what was perfect on paper…it flopped.
What I Think Went Sideways
Just imagine the amount of work I put into this. Seriously, think of it. The prayers, the consideration, the phone calls and texts, the driving. And in the end, it didn’t go very far. The reasons are basically that people are busy, Sarah wasn’t ready to take the reins when I handed them over, and I probably needed to do more follow-up. I was advised after the initial meetings to let Sarah take the lead. She had everyone’s numbers to text with questions or to make arrangements, and she knew I was available to drive her around. I thought it was too soon to step back, but I took the advice. I probably should have gone with my gut. See? Even mentors aren’t perfect!
I don’t say this because I blame my friend for giving me the advice, but because I should have trusted my own mom instincts with my own kid. As long as I knew that I was working myself out of a job as the spiritual mentor coordinator, I was okay to stay in charge longer. I messed up. By the time I realized Sarah wasn’t moving, the other girls were in the flow of their lives. We missed our window. In retrospect, I wish I’d rallied the troops for at least one more round of meetings.
Keep On Keepin’ On
I still firmly believe in the power of spiritual mentors. Even though I’m not meeting with anyone regularly anymore, I still have women I rely on as mentors. I’ve even had seasons where I was someone else’s mentor. I’m a big believer in the mentor-mentee relationship. And I think it’s fantastic for older kids and teens.
I may try to set something up again for Sarah during her senior year of high school as she’s preparing to transition into college life. That’s definitely on my radar.
Have you ever had a spiritual mentor that came alongside you and made a huge impact on your own life? Have you seen this work for preteens and teens? Let me know what worked and what didn’t. I could use the advice, and so could other readers!