Mentoring Made Simple

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Margaret and Lenita on her 80th

Margaret was ten years old when a woman in her 30’s decided to start investing herself in young girls. There was no magic curriculum, no overly-structured strategy, just an authentic woman who loved Jesus and chose to love the girl that would one day become my wife.

Two weeks ago Margaret and I attended the 80th birthday party for that mentor. We would not have missed it for the world. Her children and grandchildren made her proud and the dozens of guests made it a success. But what struck me was the impact of Lenita’s life expressed through so many people to whom she had given herself. Margaret was not the only one. A handful of no longer young girls were present to honor the woman who helped them learn to be good mothers and deeper lovers of Jesus because Lenita chose to invest in them.

Margaret and Lenita on her 80th

When we walked up to the house, I watched Margaret sign into the guestbook. “Dear Lenita, you are my longest standing friend.”

It’s funny. Margaret didn’t write about the structure of their mentoring relationship, or the books they studied, or anything remotely complicated. What matters most is the depth and authenticity and consistency of Lenita’s friendship.

You see, I find that we get all twisted up over the notions of mentoring because of some funky ideas that mentoring is about structure or curriculum or Yoda-Like super-wisdom. In reality mentoring is about sharing your life, your experiences, and your perspective when needed. It is more about walking together over the long haul then solving a urgent problem in a perfect way.

Yes, there are multiple ways for mentoring relationships to work well. J. Robert Clinton and Paul Stanley did an excellent job looking at nine different types of mentoring relationships in their book, *Connecting*. However, the vast majority of mentoring is as simple as a relationship between one person who chooses to make his or her life available and another person who admits they have a need.

I like to keep it simple. I am responsible for my own mentoring. If I have something to offer, it is my responsibility to offer it. If I have a need, it is my responsibility to look for someone to help me. I don’t expect anyone to read my mind, I own responsibility for the mentoring I need.

So, let’s cut through the red tape. Who are you pouring your life into? What do you have to offer and who do you know that might need it? What are the areas of personal development you need to work on? Pick up the phone. Schedule a coffee. Do whatever it takes to get off the dime. Start asking questions and start sharing your life. Perhaps one day at your 80th birthday you’ll have someone sign your guestbook whose life was changed forever.

As the husband of a woman who’s life was marked forever, thank you Lenita.



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4 thoughts on “Mentoring Made Simple

  1. Gary, this is overwhelming. Somehow I never considered that I mentored Margaret–I just enjoyed being with that funny, original, dear kid. Granted, sometimes she needed someone to help, but hey–so did I. I loved her then, still do, and that extends to you and the rest of the family. Thank you for this tribute, Gary Mayes.

    1. Lenita, your comments are exactly the point. You chose to open your life and give it away. Relationships are the conduit of transformation that God uses consistently. I am so pleased at the number of people who have read this and responded. Even more, I am so happy to honor you. It is VERY appropriate to do so.

  2. I love this tribute! And I love how you affirm the value of these relationships. I just finished my dissertation on intergenerational discipling in the twenty-first century, since this topic is near and dear to me. It is dedicated to the Young Life leader who led me to Christ and discipled me and to Stan and Donna Leonard who continued discipling and mentoring me in preparation for a lifetime of ministry. I know the Leonards must also applaud you and Margaret for bearing much fruit as you train and model this natural relational type of discipling with others. My hope is that an army of Lenita’s will rise up in response to your exhortations in the final paragraph of your thoughtful blog. God bless you, G. and M. !

    1. Thank You Jeanne!

      And congratulations on finishing your dissertation. What a huge accomplishment and what a terrific topic to research and write on. I could easily write about Stan and Donna as well. He really is my spiritual father. I am hoping we get to see them after Christmas when we are in Arizona.

      Regarding the army of Lenita’s… Lord Jesus, make it so!

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