We expect guy/girl relationships in romance novels. They’re a given. But as I read a few books in the last couple of weeks, it caused me to consider the other kinds of relationships we see.
- brother/sister, brother/brother, sister/sister
- cousins or various other kinship
- store employee/customer
- etc, etc
Most of us can relate to several of these. Save for the brother/brother and sister/sister—I have two brothers, no sisters—I can relate to the rest on my list. I’m sure you can, too.
One relationship struck me as one I haven’t actually experienced–that of a mentor/mentee. At least not one that was defined in that manner. I have had any number of people speak into my life at one time or another, but I wouldn’t describe any of them as mentors per se.
So I did what any self-respecting writer does, I asked people about their mentoring relationships on Facebook. :D
What I found was that I am not alone in not having had this kind of relationship, either as the mentor or the mentee. Here’s what I asked:
Have you ever had a mentor? How’d you “find” him/her? How did your relationship work (scheduled phone calls/texts/e-mails/in-person meetings)?
Have you ever been a mentor? How do you choose who to help?
I’ve never had nor been a mentor, though I asked someone once. I understood the reason why she declined, but I’ve never gained enough nerve to ask anyone else.
And if you don’t mind sharing, what was the purpose of the mentoring relationship (writing, alcoholism, marriage, ???)? Did you remain friends/in contact afterward?
Four people responded to my request.
One was a teacher. The school she worked for had a mentoring program designed to assist first year teachers. The administration made the assignments, so no choice was involved on either teacher’s part.
Another is a junior Marine (thank you for your service). The Corps assigned him a mentor to help transition from civilian life to that of a Marine. Once he moves up in rank/responsibility, he will also be called on to be a mentor to incoming Marines.
A third only nominally answered the question, saying she and her husband shared a mentor. Bummer.
And then the fourth, Barbara Valentine, a friend I haven’t seen in … well, a long time, sent me some really great information. She is a mentor and a speaker (and an author). You can find her at http://discovernextstep.com.
Preparing to be Mentored
Be committed and come prepared. This is a partnership and you are only going to get out of it what you are willing to put into it. If you prepare well, you can reflect well. Reflection leads to a change in our thinking, which leads to results. Value their time by preparing and being open and vulnerable during session.
Get real with yourself – About your strengths, weakness and areas of opportunity for growth so that you can get real with your mentor.
Set ego aside. You can only receive from your mentor what you are emotionally prepared to accept. Realize that you are not trying to impress your mentor with super intelligent or flashy questions-you are trying to learn from their experiences, gain wisdom and put it into practice in your life where applicable for optimum growth. Fear can keep us from being vulnerable and feeling secure enough to ask questions.
Come with preset questions
After mentoring, ask yourself reflective questions and journal
Preparing to Mentor Someone
Mentorship is different from teaching or coaching. Mentorship is sharing your experiences and learnings with someone who is seeking to learn from you.
Let THEM determine the agenda – Meet them where they are. Do not violate them by working your own agenda, assumption or not getting to know them. Do not interrupt them with your thoughts, do make eye contact and lean in.
Listen not only to hear but to understand. – Remember, trust occurs when someone FEELS understood.
You can ask for the questions in advance of the meeting if you would like time to think into your answers, guidance, direction, and advice but also be open to anything that comes to you “in the moment” within your conversations/time together.
I know so far this post doesn’t have much, if anything, to do with romance novels. :) But these notes were too good to leave out.
So back to books …
After thinking about this for a few days, I knew other books by our IR authors must mention mentors in there somewhere. So I asked them (‘cuz as much as I love to read, I haven’t read all of our lovely authors’ books). Here’s what they said:
- Valerie Comer: In Sprouts of Love, the heroine, Evelyn Felton, looks back at a time when she was a homeless single mom, and at the woman who gave her love and a leg up. Teri Blackstone had made poor choices herself and landed on the street, but she found Jesus and rebuilt her life, always with the goal of helping other women. She made a huge difference in Evelyn’s life by believing in her, finding childcare for her daughter, Maisie, so Evelyn could take night classes, and coaching her in a job search. In the story, Evelyn still keeps in touch with Teri years later and doesn’t see how she’d have made it without the older woman’s mentorship.
- Merrillee Whren: In my book, Four Little Blessings, my heroine has a mentor. Cassie Rankin grew up in less than ideal circumstances, but her mentor, Angie Clark, helped her realize her potential in high school. Cassie knows she probably wouldn’t have made it through high school without Angie. Now Cassie is in charge of her two nieces and two nephews because her sister is in prison. Angie has provided Cassie with a place to live and helped her get a job, so she can keep her nieces and nephews together rather than having them wind up separated in foster care.
- Jaycee Weaver: In What Could Be, Josh meets Pastor Jaydon who becomes a dear friend and speaks much needed truths into his life. Jaydon becomes the hero of Whatever Comes Our Way and is a youth pastor who, with the heroine, mentors a troubled teen and his sister.
- Hallee Bridgeman: In Sapphire Ice, we learn when the hero, Tony, was a homeless teen, youth pastor, Peter O’Farrel, took him into his home and mentored him through his early years as a Christian. In Greater Than Rubies, Tony does the same thing for a young man named Derrick DiNunzio. He gives him a job and a home and teaches him about Christ.
I have not written a mentor into my books. Yet. After writing this post, I may do so. I believe it can be a life changer for both people.
Have you read another contemporary Christian romance that has a mentoring relationship mentioned?
Have you been in such a relationship? How did it bless you?