Busy Schedules. Let’s face it, nobody has time to mentor. Mentoring, when done correctly, is an investment of one’s time. And to invest that time, both the mentor and mentee need to see the priority and benefit.
Let’s begin with the basics and simple facts. No one person has more time allotted than any other person. We all get the same 24 hours/day and how we use that time is often a matter of our priorities and our stewardship, more so than our ability.
I recall being at a restaurant one evening. I was spotted by some of the leaders from my church. They wanted to know what I was doing there, and when I informed them that I was interviewing a candidate for the United States Naval Academy, one of the women asked, “How do you get so many things done?” I responded, “I get the same 24 hours as everyone else.” Granted, there are nights when I wish that I got more sleep. (Does anyone get eight hours per night?)
When I’m not sleeping or spending time with my family or friends, I try to make time to work out and read. I spend time with my daughter and I do basic family stuff like run errands, grocery shop, and pay bills. I go to a morning worship service and Sabbath (rest) on Sundays. I sometimes binge watch Netflix when I’m doing house chores. When I’m not engaging in those activities, I’m working. I’m praying, reading the Word, reading other books, and intentionally, planning, preparing, and executing my nonprofit work, speaking engagements, writing assignments, Board of Directors work, anti-human trafficking work, community service, and I’m mentoring. I’m making the best use of my time. This is called good stewardship.
I do it because I understand my purpose and priorities.
Instead of saying that they don’t have time to mentor, people need to make a more honest confession and say, “Mentoring is not a priority for me.” I think that’s a sad statement, but it is certainly an honest one and a good place to start.
Before asking yourself the question, “Do I have time to mentor?” It would be a better practice, to first determine where all your time goes. Where do you spend or lose it? The appendices of “Mentor for Life” include a lot of practical tools, one of which is a weekly time management tracker.
Mentoring Challenge: Print out or find a weekly time management tracker. You can find it in Appendix E of the book, or search for one on the internet. Beginning on Sunday, commit to completing the tracker. Make a log for every hour of your day for an entire week. Then complete an end-of-week evaluation. How much time did you devout to sleep, study, exercise, leisure, learning, cultivating healthy relationships, work, or volunteer service? Then honestly ask yourself: Is this my normal way of going through life? Was this an “off” or abnormal week? Where do I need to make adjustments? Who can hold me accountable for these changes?
If we want to seriously consider mentoring, we must first take a look at ourselves.
Mentoring is a commitment for both the mentor and the mentee.
When considering a mentoring relationship, mentors must be willing to clearly discuss and layout expectations for mentees who also lead busy lives. Mentees who are not willing to commit time for their personal growth and development are simply not ready for a mentoring relationship. Here are a few ways you can help with their decision-making process:
- Set clear expectations upfront. Communicate your availability and what you are willing to do as a mentor, and then articulate what you are asking of them as mentees. Have them commit to their understanding and proper follow-up actions.
- Mentor within the context of a small group. One of the benefits of a mentoring group, in opposed to establishing a one-on-one mentoring relationship, is accountability. Having a mentoring group allows for positive pressure from mentees who are intentionally showing up and are committed to work. If we are to grow, we all need this level of support and accountability in our lives.
- Let mentees have input on when you connect for mentoring. Some people’s schedules simply do not allow them to meet at certain times, and that does not necessarily mean that they aren’t dedicated. They just need some flexibility. So be clear about your availability, and also be flexible. For example, I stop attending weekly Bible study, mentoring, or small groups years ago (not when I have responsibilities to lead them anyway). My life and travel schedule, along with the amount of time I invest to prepare for such responsibilities does not allow me to make weekly commitments. So, depending on the ministry context, I may lead a mentoring group every other week or even once per month. However, I am considerate of my mentees schedules when we determine the days and times that we gather for our mentoring group.
Setting clear expectations, having peer accountability, and agreeing on a favorable meeting day, time, and location are simple ways to help yourself and others prioritize mentoring relationships in a busy world.
After you have considered these practical steps, you must be like Nike and “Just do it!” I think you will find mentoring a rewarding endeavor for both you and your mentees but you have to take the risk and get started. Sometimes, it is in the doing that God corrects us concerning our priorities.
What other ways might you find yourself distracted from cultivating mentoring relationships?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson