Mentorship is one of the critical components of the modern understanding of religion or spirituality. Nonetheless, some experts disregard the role of mentors in their lives and consider them as unimportant figures. In this case, it is critical to underline the paramount importance of mentorship in the modern world and highlight the principle benefits of this intervention.
In the first place, the mentor not only helps to find the connection with inner self and spirituality but also offers support. In this case, an individual can always refer to a mentor and ask for particular guidance during the confusing situations and times of personal crisis. In turn, accountability is another aspect associated with the sophisticated mentorship, and it implies that a mentee can always rely on and express his/her ideas to a life coach in case of confusion and controversies of the modern world. It could be said that the mentorship helps overcome the difficulties and challenges and feel the emotional lift during the times of obscurity.
Simultaneously, a mentor can serve as a role model by promoting Christ-like behavior. It will help find a spiritual connection and learn the concepts of religion with real-life examples. Alternatively, having a mentor can contribute to spiritual and personal growth. This authority can assist in understanding different situations and learning lessons from them. At the same time, a mentor can explain the principles of religion and become closer to God and spirituality. A combination of these functions of the mentor can have an advantageous impact on the goal setting, as after having a conversation with the trusting individual, one can have a clear understanding of his/her destiny in life and position in the society.
Comparing and Contrasting Interviews
To support and underline the concepts mentioned above, conducting the interviews with JoAnne Lewis and Kim Aldridge, the real mentors, and coaches, was critical. Despite having similar intentions to guide and support the mentee, both coaches tended to pursue different approaches to reach their goals. Speaking of the initiation of the relationship, Lewis started the relationship while Aldridge allowed mentees to choose the mentors themselves.1, 2 In this case, the primary drawback of Lewis’ style was the fact that it might increase pressure and tensions, but it ensured the mentor’s desire to help and support. On the contrary, the critical strength of Aldridge’s strategy was freedom of choice, but the lack of initiative might question the skills of the mentor.
Another difference can be reflected in the conceptualization and overall process of mentoring. It could be said that Aldridge used a universal approach. This coach did not refer to God when implementing her tactics but tended to develop the concepts, which would be applicable in dissimilar contexts. The primary advantage of this mentoring tactic that this tactic could be applied in diverse situations due to its universalism. Alas, it might not be enough for gaining emotional contact with a mentee. On the contrary, Lewis prioritized the essence of God in her ideas, as God was viewed as a central figure in her mentoring approach.3 The primary benefit of this tactic was its religious orientation and emphasis on spiritual growth.
Another matter that has to be compared is the format of the support delivered by the mentor. In this case, Aldridge prioritized private interviews over other means of communication.4The primary benefit of this method was the fact that it assisted in building rapport with a person in need. Nonetheless, the key weakness was a potential lack of communication with other social groups. As for Lewis, this mentor applied and entirely different approach and tried to make the relationship as emotional as possible with the help of tactile touch such as hugs and using a personal example.5 Simultaneously, Lewis encouraged the mentee to be engaged in various activities and share his/her talent with the audience.6 It could be said that this strategy assisted in creating a trusting relationship with a person and made him/her feel like a part of the community. Nonetheless, a mentor had to assess the behavior of a mentee and control the emotions when it is necessary.
Speaking of confidentiality, it remains apparent that all the topics discussed during the individual meetings and interviews were confidential. In turn, the mentee could share information with the audience at different events, church services, and conferences. It could be said that this approach was beneficial as it cultivated trust between two parties. As for accountability as another criterion for comparison, as it was mentioned previously, it could be measured with the assistance of the attendance of various and services. In this instance, strongly relying on these numerical factors might not be effective, but, overall, using this measurement technique helped acquire the overall progress of the mentorship and determine the potential outcomes.
Other aspects that are critical to compare are the closure of the mentor-mentee relationship and the significance of the result. Aldridge clearly stated that the length of the evaluation process accounts for three weeks.7 In this case, the well-defined timeframe helped establish a sufficient plan of actions to be taken to ensure that the desired goals are met. As for Lewis, she considered this approach philosophically and stated that there was no identified end in the mentor-mentee collaboration.8 This matter expanded the horizons of the original goal of the relationships and helped both of the participants find a connection with God. Nonetheless, the critical drawback of this approach was the fact that it might be too abstract and question the overall effectiveness of the process.
Furthermore, speaking of the significance of the results, both of the mentors highlighted the outcomes as highly important. At the same time, they tended to understand that the results might vary depending on the relationship, personal beliefs, and the background of the mentee. Despite the gravity of the outcomes, Lewis and Aldridge depicted that they found the overall process rewarding and were continuously motivated to encourage and inspire other people to find their paths in life.
A combination of the factors highlighted above assists in understanding that mentors may utilize different approaches to building the contact with the audience and use various instruments to create a plan to reach the desired goals. For instance, it could be said that Lewis was highly emotional and wanted to deliver her message to the people by being intimate with her mentees. On the contrary, Aldridge tended to be more conservative in her thoughts with a well-defined plan of action. Nevertheless, despite having a plethora of differences, both mentors were proud of their mission and were fully engaged in the process.
Based on the analysis of the interviews mentioned above, it was possible to learn several lessons to be implemented in practice. In the first place, it is vital to use the client-centered approach, as prioritizing the needs of the mentee will help reach the desired goals and objectives. Being able to listen to one’s complaints and opinions will assist in establishing a rapport with a mentee and build a trusting relationship. I will use this approach in practice, as it will help develop intimacy with a client rapidly.
Alternatively, one cannot underestimate that the difficulties during the mentorships might arise and challenge the overall effectiveness of the process. It could be said that identifying the problems at the right time will help avoid difficulties associated with the lack of consistency of coaching and underestimating the effectiveness of the mentorship. In this case, monitoring progress daily and having regular conversations with a client will resolve these problems, and I will take advantage of this technique and implement it into practice.
The third lesson to be learned is the fact that the mentor has to have a well-developed and designed plan of action. In this case, the mentor has to identify the client’s goals and listen to his/her issues and values. After that, it is vital to find the right direction, develop the solutions to the inner problems and complexes, and plan goals with the assistance of dreaming and discovering new opportunities. It remains apparent that the mentor has to support the mentee during this process and ensure that the appropriate level of accountability is delivered. A combination of the lessons depicted above modified my overall perception of mentoring. I will consider these lessons and aspects of my mentoring career.
Appendix 1: Interview with JoAnne Lewis
JoAnne Lewis, President, Go Forward, Inc. and the founder for Still Waters Outreach, a faith-based drug recovery facility. She has served as a mentor to many young professionals during her multi-decade career as an economic development professional. It was not until God called her to duty that she decided to take early retirement and redirected her mentoring skills to a path of Christian discipleship.
When we look at the Gospels in the New Testament, we see examples of disciples who followed Jesus. Many left their jobs and secure walk in life to follow Christ. These disciples had the benefit of walking with Christ in the flesh. Lewis does not compare herself to these men, but she does acknowledge that she left a good job with a secure future to become a disciple through Still Waters Outreach, a Christian women’s substance abuse rehabilitation center in Douglas, Georgia. As the founder of Still Waters, she opened the door for mentorship for many women struggling to stay sober.
Still, Waters opened in December 2014. Lewis serves as Chairperson of the Board of Directors, a non-profit Christian organization. Her role reaches beyond Board meetings. As a disciple for Christ she mentors residents through her Christian walk and volunteer program leadership. More than eighty women have participated in the Christ lead sobriety program. For Lewis, Donna Smith stands out more than most. The mentoring relationship was initiated by Lewis; Smith cautiously engaged.
Smith, the daughter of a retired Baptist minister in Oklahoma, made her way to Georgia by way of a drug addiction 1-800-hotline. Her first stop was at Bridges of Hope in Alamo, Georgia where she participated in an in-house restricted Alcoholic Anonymous 12 step program. During her stay at Bridges of Hope, Smith met a staff member from Still Waters that encouraged her to expand her sobriety training through the Christian program in Douglas. This was the connection that brought Lewis and Smith together.
The minute Smith entered the six-month Christian program at Still Waters, Lewis recognized something special in her. Her personal story was proof that she was an overcomer. Still, Smith seemed to have a void in her heart and was just waiting for more Jesus. Lewis was right. Although raised in a Christian home, Smith professed to be an atheist for many years. She was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of nine and underwent fifteen surgeries in her short thirty-six years of life. Doctors had delivered less than a hopeful prognosis. Smith had been told she would always have trouble walking and would never run. Her diagnosis included mental challenges with the possibility of functioning at the level of nine years old. Lewis did not see that in Smith. She saw more.
Lewis implemented a plan for mentorship based on leading by example with a strong component of positive encouragement. She operated on the principle of actions speak louder than words. She implemented an approach for mentorship and lived the approach through her walk and actions. The three-point format included:
- Love – Share God Love
- Pray – Ask and Obey
- Grow – Accountable Skills for Living
Love comes naturally to Lewis. Her presence is bound by love and released by hugs she shares with everyone she meets. She is not a trained professional. She uses this human touch combined with a positive conversation to break bearers and win hearts. It worked with Smith. Smith began to trust Lewis and more important she opened her heart with love and respect for her. Smith’s dad lived 2000 miles away and her mother had passed away many years prior. Lewis began to fill the gap as not just a mentor, but a family member; perhaps an adopted mother. She shared her love but more important she shares the love of Christ.
Lewis believes prayer is the base of all mentorship activity in relationships. She encouraged Smith to ask Christ for guidance, ask Him to come into her heart, and ask Him to be her personal Savior. Daily prayer was a requirement. Morning group devotionals at Still Waters was a way to start every day off right. Smith, along with 13 other residents participated in daily one-hour sessions that included devotions presented by residents, quiet time for the reading of God’s Word, a time to armor up for Christ, and Prayer. Prayer did not stop there; it continued as a structured component throughout the day.
Lewis believes accountability is essential in relationships and Christian living. With both physical and mental challenges from Smith, Lewis knew life skills accountability would be important to the process. A Schedule was set for daily chores, Bible study, Christian motivational reading, self-help sessions, and sobriety training. Assignments were monitored and consequences were forthcoming when acceptable performance was not met. There were few consequences for Smith. Through her study and time with Lewis, she began to develop a desire to lead and let her light shine for others. He accepted Christ as her savior and was baptized in the pond on the Still Waters complex. Lewis could see progress but still knew there was more.
Lewis began to identify a strong sense of growth in Smith. A more open relationship developed and what began to be shared in confidence quickly became the secret weapon for a remarkable outcome. Smith shares childhood memories, one of which centered around music and piano lessons. Immediately Smith was assigned the duty of providing music for special events at Still Waters and soon answered the call as a volunteer pianist at a small country church in Ambrose, Georgia (10 miles from Still Waters) where she still serves today. No chart can measure success found through the feeling of accomplishment and worthiness brought about by service. Smith had been evaluated for work opportunities through federal agencies and was reported to be unemployable due to significant challenges. Her evaluation by Christ was not the same. Not only does she continue to play the piano but today a guitarist and tambourine player has joined her efforts. She now plays by ear. God turned her mess of challenges into a message of love for others.
When Lewis was asked to explain the closure of the relationship she replied, “There’s not one. God has a plan for Smith and the best is yet to come.”
When Lewis was asked what was the most difficult aspect of the relationship she added, “Just trying to keep up with Smith after she accepted Christ was difficult. She saw no boundaries and looked beyond her physical and mental challenges.”
Today Smith walks a mile a day and has even jogged along the way. She keeps medical records proclaiming her disabilities close by and laughs when she talks about her “significant” medical prognosis. She does not laugh at Jesus! She praises him, worships him, and shares his love with others through music and all aspects of her life. She has become an inspiration to many and a worthy daughter of the King.
The mentorship between Lewis and Smith is not over. Smith graduated from the six-month program at Still Waters. She now lives on her own in aftercare housing for women learning to live drug-free. She chairs AA 12 step meetings every Monday night and participates in two Christian lead sobriety programs. She was not found to be capable of employment by professional evaluations but she has found success in cleaning houses and assisting with housing rehab. Lewis is teaching Smith financial management and life-skill techniques for living a Christian life. Lewis has become the absent Mother and continues to serve as a mentor for Smith. The best is yet to come!
Appendix 2: Interview with Kim Aldridge
Email: [email protected]
- The mentee(s) pick me out for mentoring, guidance, or direction in their lives and situations he or she may face.
- Once a week for an hour in my office (privately).
- Accountability, confidentiality, evaluation over three months. Evaluating – behaviors, attitudes, willingness, group settings, studying, work ethics, following rules.
Accountability: How many self-help meetings or church services attended, random drug screening.
Confidentiality: Resident-mentor relationship.
- Establishing trust and intimacy with my patients, mentees;
- Engaging the client (listening);
- Resolving internal issues, emptying thoughts, and settings;
- Achieving goals: Planning, exploring, and dreaming;
- Creating a clear direction;
- Clarifying mentees values and support them in making choices aligned with their values.
- When they don’t show for their appointments, the mentee gets off track, off focus, off the direction of where he or she is going. When a mentee is not consistent in being coached when the mentee is not available for accountability. It does not make themselves available but later comes back with a bigger problem.
- To mentor a client, partner with them in a thought-provoking, goal aligned, creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. When I get the privilege of watching this process happen, that is significant to me. Worthy of attention, remarkable, important…
- Kim Aldridge (resident house manager and life coach at Still Waters) in discussion with the author, 2016.
- JoAnne Lewis (president of GoForward.Inc) in discussion with the author, 2016.
- Aldridge, 2016.
- Lewis, 2016.
- Aldridge, 2016.
- Lewis, 2016.