The 5 Attributes of a Mentor

“Hello?” I paused.
“Is this Cynthia?”, I asked while listening to myself speak. Was that nervous voice mine?
Yes, it is.”, the woman on the other end of the phone pleasantly replied.
“Hi.” I paused and stammered. “Um, well, uh, this is Claire Alameda. You probably don’t remember me but we met….
“Oh, Claire, of course, I remember you hon.”, she said reassuringly.
She went on to remind me where and when we met. She told me, “yes, we would love to meet with you and Mike.”
“How about, you all come over for dinner this Saturday night?”, she asked with a touch of Texas in her voice.
Mike, my husband, and I were considering a major life change. We were both young professionals pursuing our careers. However, we increasingly felt called to leave our jobs and enter into ministry. A pastor at our home church suggested we meet and get advice from other couples who had done the same.

Mike and I respected this couple in particular at church. I admired the way the wife conducted herself. There was something about her that attracted me. She seemed kind and thoughtful. She appeared quiet but friendly. She taught for the women’s ministry and was an excellent communicator of scriptural principles. She shared without coming across like she “had it all together.” I wondered how she came to know the Bible so well. I longed to understand how she balanced being a wife and mother and still had time to study and work and be a friend. I wished I could learn from her. I wanted to be like her. I didn’t realize it then, but I was looking for a mentor.

What is a Mentor?

According to dictionary.com, a mentor is:
1. A wise and trusted counselor or teacher.
2. An influential senior sponsor or supporter.
There are intention and purpose in the mentoring relationship. We often think about formal mentoring relationships in the context of the workplace. A seasoned employee is matched with a less experienced one and coached to advance his or her knowledge base and skill set. However, the need for mentoring is not exclusive to industry, government, education or business. Wise counsel and support are helpful in all aspects of life. The newlyweds, to the parents in the thick of child-rearing, to the seekers looking for God, share the need for someone to come alongside and walk with them through the daily challenges of life.

What makes a Mentor?

In my experience, there are 5 attributes effective mentors have in common that lead to fulfilling mentoring relationships.

  1. Authenticity: Be Real. A mentor’s personal character is revealed by the heart attitudes she displays. Being real and transparent in relationship garners trust. A mentor who is authentic frees others to be themselves and forgo the need to please or to perform or be perfect.
  2. Availability: Give Time. Mentors consider the time dedicated to building the life of another a worthy investment. A mentor is flexible with their schedule and leaves room for unexpected needs. She is prepared for the impromptu text, phone call or unplanned meeting. An attentive mentor makes time to be available.
  3. Affirmation: Speak Truth. A mentor affirms the heart seeking counsel. Her role is to listen and ask questions. She provides insight and helps to process. She sees into circumstance and situations and offers wisdom. The mentor guides by speaking truth and assists in the discovery of what is true.
  4. Affectionate: Show Love. A mentor who demonstrates others centered love opens hearts. Remembering birthdays, significant anniversaries, and holidays is special. She sends a note, exchanges small gifts. She connects on social media. She meets at the local coffee shop or shares a meal. A mentor shows love by creating mutual bonds friendship.
  5. All In: Remain Faithful. A mentor who remains faithful to sacrificially give herself away for the benefit of another is all in. Staying the course for the duration of the season of mentoring is being all in. Engaging fully when it isn’t convenient is being all in. A mentor who celebrates victories and weeps for another’s broken heart is all in.

What Marks the Christian Mentor?

The apostle Paul encouraged the believers in the church of Corinth to “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ”. (1 Corinthians 11:1)  Paul was not boasting. Throughout the New Testament, the Apostle acknowledges his weaknesses and afflictions. He confesses his need for grace. In essence, he was saying to the Corinthian Christians follow me as I follow Christ. Let us follow together. His confidence was in the Gospel. Paul’s transformational encounter with Jesus marked His life. (Act 9:1-19) It was the same mark of Jesus that attracted my spirit to the woman from my church.

It’s been nearly to 26 years since I made the phone call to Cynthia. Our conversation began a mentoring relationship that would mark my heart and impact the course of my ministry. Her life in Christ continues to inspire mine as we follow Him together in faith.

From My Heart: I’d love to hear your story. Who is the mentor in your life? Are you looking for a mentor? Are you mentoring women around your table? 

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