The Diocese in which I serve is embarking on a new young adult mentoring programme, and I’m thrilled to be one of the mentors.
Thrilled, and a little terrified.
Thrilled because my heart holds a special place for youth and young adults; I wrote my first thesis on spiritual needs for youth, I served as a diocesan youth ministry developer, and have always had some form of involvement with youth programmes and youth ministry.
Terrified because this is a big responsibility. Mentoring someone is a companionship relationship, sharing experience, assisting in the development of another’s faith journey. It’s a role not to be taken lightly.
It’s a relationship that it based on mutual trust and respect; and necessitates humility and vulnerability. It’s not just conversation, it’s intentional; in the church it’s a great way to focus on discernment in our daily lives.
I know there are many benefits of mentoring; for the mentee as well as for the mentor. I know I will gain a new perspective on another person’s discernment process and spiritual journey; this will inspire some self-reflection and awareness on my own.
It’s an opportunity to share my story, and to have another person share their story with me. And, as Christians, we are sharing these stories within the common context of faith. Furthermore, this sharing takes place without agenda—there’s no assessment, there’s no right and wrong answers, it’s simply being.
The lack of agenda is not something that happens all that often these days; one of my mentors taught me well when he said “Everyone has an agenda. Except me—for now.” There were times he had to assess my work, but the conversation about our faith journeys was just that—a time to share without needing to worry about getting the words perfect. And there is always a purpose—realised or not, expressed or not—when meetings and conversations (especially with organisational leadership) take place.
And that’s another reason for my wanting to be a mentor again—I was a mentee. My mentors had a HUGELY positive impact on my development as a beloved child of God, and as a priest. I continue to have people in mentor-like roles in my life, on whom I know I can call when I want advice or perspective or just a non-agenda’ed conversation about my faith journey today.
It’s a humbling road, but it’s a worthwhile road. And it’s a road we’ll not be on alone; for these experiences will take place within the context of Christian community, of prayer. God will be with us every step of the way; I trust in God’s direction to guide the process wherever it’s meant to go.
Who has been your mentor? Whose influence has helped guide and direct your spiritual journey?