Monday, October 13, 2014

Listening is an Important Part of Mentoring

Today I want to talk about prayer and finding a mentee. Two of the things that women frequently ask is how can I become a mentor and how do I find a mentee. The first thing that you need to do to become a mentor, if you are really interested in Active relational Christian mentoring (ARCM) as a service ministry for the Lord and to help others, is to pray. This is the time to be very specific in your prayers. We often pray in generalities, such as asking God to bless us. However, along with praying for your heart's desire to serve the Lord and others you should pray specifically asking God to give you the ability to listen to other women and for God to open doors for perspective mentees to enter in. Why those two specific requests?  Well, today let's start with your first request from God, which is to teach you how to listen to others.

Most women love to talk and talk. We are very good at talking and often use our large vocabularies while we fellowship with other women. However, to be good mentors we have to first become good listeners. It is only through our listening that we can become skilled at discerning the mentee's needs, emotions, and desires. By listening, the mentor can pick up on the nuances of what she is or is not saying and gain insightful information about the needs of the woman mentee. If the mentor, though, does all the talking, the mentor is just taking up time telling about her life or talking about what she thinks the mentee should want to know. That is not mentoring. That is just a one-sided conversation. The other woman, the mentee, doesn't receive any thing from your one-sided conversations unless God chooses to use something you have said to speak to the woman. For example, if I want advice and understanding about a particular situation in my life, but my mentor starts the conversation talking about her terrible week and all the things that she has had to accomplish in a short period of time, I will politely listen. However, if the mentor continues talking about herself and her thoughts or wants, I may be sitting there and listening politely, but all the time I'm really thinking, "this person seems to be focused only on herself".  "I really wanted to talk about a need I have and what the Bible says about addressing that need, but I am just wasting my time sitting here listening to her." It is at this point that I, as the mentee, may decide not to pursue the development of a mentoring relationship with this mentor. All could have been saved, and perhaps we could have become the best of friends, if only the mentor had been willing to listen and only ask questions when there was a break in the conversation or to ask a question to have me clarify or explain something that I said. Throughout the conversation, i.e. the back and forth interchange between the mentee and mentor, the mentor will only gain insight about the situation or have a better understanding of what she should be saying to the mentee, if she listens to what her mentee is actually saying.

All women can learn to listen. It is just a matter of whether or not we want to give up some of our talking in order to help another woman. If you pray for the ability to listen and then actually work at listening to what those around you are saying without always filling in the dead spaces, you will find that you can learn a great deal about the woman and her needs. Start by practicing listening to your family and friends. For example, in listening to your daughter's conversation with the family, you may find out that your daughter is dating one guy, but actually wants to date another guy, because every time she says the other guys name her voice changes, or there is a smile on her face, etc. Listening can often provide great information and insight. Actually, it is the combination of listening to and watching the other person that becomes a powerful tool to learn details of another's life without even talking. Of course, there is also a time for talking and talking is needed. The Christian mentor has to talk, too, to develop the mentoring relationship and in order to proceed with actual mentoring. For, if a mentor never talked, the mentee would not receive the information, resources, skills, etc. that she was hoping to gain from the mentoring relationship. So, it is important to use our listening and watching tools along with our talking and conversing  skills to have productive and fruitful ARCM.

God hears all our prayers and He knows our heart's desire, so if you truly want to become a Christian mentor, He will hear you. God will help you develop your listening skills, but you have to do your part as well. You have to put in the effort to listen to other women; to truly listen and hear what they are saying so you will be able to discern what they need and what you should say. You should also be willing to listen to the Holy Spirit, for He will also give you insight into the woman's needs, as well as guidance for what you should say. Listening, then, is a very important part of Active relational Christian mentoring whether you are listening to the mentee or listening to the Holy Spirit.

As you work on your listening skills, you can start praying for God to put a potential mentee in your path. Next time I will talk more about how to go about obtaining a mentee. In the meantime, study the Word of God; get to know the Bible well enough that you can easily turn to the different books of the Bible. Find the Bible verses that you can use to share the Gospel message with another person.  Don't forget to pray. Pray for you to be used by God to help others, and if the ministry of mentoring is what God wants you to pursue, specifically pray that you become a good listener!

1 comment:

  1. WOW, you are doing incredible. This is something that I don't know how to do. WAY TO GO!!!! I am thoroughly impressed.