Thursday, May 10, 2012

How to get the most from your mentor

"I could tell by the way you were shifting your feet that you were checking out. You were exhausted and at that point, she wasn't going to get the best out of you at all..."


This was said by my friend Candy who is often with me before and after services, helping me as I'm preparing to minister, or just finishing up.

She made this statement after watching a lady in the church try to have a conversation with me at about 1:30 in the afternoon on a Sunday after church. I had just finished preaching, ministering at the altar and greeting first time guests and was totally wiped out. And here came a woman needing "just a few minutes of my time to bend my ear about a major decision in her life." 

I stood there listening. Well, trying to listen. I don't hear much on a Sunday after church. When I preach, I leave it all on the stage. My feet are hurting from ministering in heels since 8:00 am. I'm hungry. I'm thirsty. I'm thinking about one thing at that point...sitting next to my husband and having a cold glass of iced tea with a slice of lime at lunch. That's about it. The last thing on my mind is advising somebody on a life altering decision.  But I always stay anyway and talk with anyone who has waited to see me and do my very best to help them.

Candy says to me, "PD, physical things like you shifting from one foot to the other as you stand and talk to people always indicate to me that your body is still there but your mind has left the building." 

She's right.

With  my prior permission, Candy sometimes comes over and gently interrupts and advises someone to give me a call in the morning after I'm rested. At times people receive these helpful suggestions well, and at other times not. 


Here's what I want to tell you about your mentor.


Their insights that you respect so much are housed in a body.  A human body.

They have a life.

They get tired, hungry, thirsty, and they have to use the restroom from time to time.

They also may have a spouse or children.

They have a home to take care of.

Respect all those things about them.

I know this might sound a little crazy but  many people I've mentored have not respected those things. A lady in the church years ago requested that I mentor her. I agreed. She thought that meant she had 24/7 access to me. She'd call at 3:00 in the morning just because she was "feeling a little down." No emergency. No crisis. Just "a bit under the weather and needing to talk." At the time I had a newborn baby, two elementary school age boys and a husband. There were times she rang the phone in the middle of the night and woke up the entire house. When I set some boundaries in place and let her know my schedule and my family needed a measure of respect from her she was very offended.

Over the years I've learned that I need to tell people how they can best receive from me. If they want my insight about something, I tell them the times it's best to ask for it. Those who don't respect it simply don't get the best from me, because quite frankly I'm unable to give it at certain times when they demand it. And that puts a strain on our relationship.

You will receive the most from your mentors when you realize that they love you but they have a life outside of you. They could meet your every whim and put all else aside but then their health and their home would fall apart. All they would be able to guide you in at that point would be how NOT to do life.

And that would be terrible. For them, and for you.
 

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