The Side of the Road

By Monica O’Neil

Dark: the colour of my disorientation, the cloudy mood in our car, the sky outside, and my fear of
losing our way. I was tired, with a car full of very little people who needed to be in warm beds. My husband and I were driving in unfamiliar Albany, a small country town in Western Australia’s Great Southern Region. Well, he was driving and I was navigating. Normally we are a crack team at this as I’m good with maps in any direction and he drives well. However, the town had recently installed a vast number of roundabouts. What they had not yet installed was any directional signage. Google maps didn’t exist. Juggling a tiny torch and trying to scan for bearings that night was beyond me. I was crumbling. I couldn’t see the way for all the roads.

The exit options on the roundabout were sometimes two, sometimes three, four or five. It seemed they presented themselves too fast and in the darkness they were no longer hopeful roads that
might lead to a warm room and bed, they were purveyors of panic!

The points of decision were coming at me too fast and with limited visibility, both inside the car and
out, I transformed from ‘Supernavgirl’ into a sobbing distraught blob despairing of ever seeing a
warm bed for my children ever again.

If only I’d had a mentor with me right then.

Maybe the conversation and actions that evening evening would have gone like this…

‘Let’s pull over to the side of the road and pause. And let’s do that at each turn if needed because the pause will give precious time for clarity and wisdom to emerge. Let’s take the time on the side of
the road to do the tricky work of translating the landscape we see and the map we have, in the light
of the destination we have in our mind and heart.’

I might have been reminded that navigating relies on several things including, but not limited to:

  • Getting accurate bearings for where you are. Max De Pree says the first task of leadership is to define reality.
  • Getting clarity about the destination. If there is no destination that matters, perhaps any
    road really will do. If, however, it does matter it holds us to course and all recalibrations are
    towards it.
  • A knowledge of possible routes and the markers indicating when each choice must be made.
    Sometimes its tiny side exits that confuse. If we can note their presence we can ignore them when they come into view.
  • Observation of the conditions to be encountered. Are the roads sealed, flooded, or
    potentially blocked by a rock fall? Is the only route risky and what can be done to prepare? Is there a safe option which is only a couple of kilometres longer?

I know it’s a metaphor, but a metaphor lets you and I translate it to our mentoring context. I’m
proposing that one of the things we offer as a mentor is a metaphorical pitstop, a side of the road
moment. That pause on the side of the road helps to define reality, to clarify or re-clarify the desired
outcomes and to recalibrate their journey in a space of quiet peace and wisdom.

“Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were
not seen.” Psalm 77:19

Self-Check List for Mentors

By Sally Jones

The focus of a good mentoring relationship is always on the formation of the mentoree.  My role as a mentor is to come alongside them and equip and empower them to move towards achieving their goals, and when I do that in a session I aim to give them my undivided attention. One of the things that my mentorees often say they appreciate the most about mentoring is that it is the one relationship where it is actually okay for it to be all about them – what they need to grow, what they need to focus on to be who God has called them to be. However as I journey along with them, there are actually a few things about myself that I need to be attending to!

The one question I regularly ask myself is this:  What do I most need to be fully present to my mentorees?

The answers to this will be many and varied depending on the context, but I want to suggest they need to include:

  • Preparation time – mentoring takes much more time than the actual session.  Have I allocated adequate time in my diary for any reading, researching, thinking or any other preparation I might need to do?   Have I completed any commitments I may have made to my mentoree in the last session? It’s pretty obvious when a mentoree has hurriedly thrown together (probably just before they arrived!) something I asked them to spend time reflecting on – and it will be just as obvious to my mentoree if I have done the same.

  • ‘Transition’ time – how busy are the 30 minutes before a mentoring session is due to start?  We all have busy lives but it’s important to allow ourselves space to transition from the space of phone calls, emails, meetings, battling the traffic, putting the kids to bed, etc., to the mentoring space.  As far as possible, I need to attend to the things which might distract me from being fully present.  I find the key to this is finding a quiet spot, being still, and spending some time in prayer – for my mentoree, for myself and for the upcoming session.

  • Development time – what skills do I have which might need sharpening? Are there areas of development or issues arising in the lives of my mentorees that I need to be learning more about?  When was the last time I went to a workshop or conference to add to my knowledge and experience? Being intentional about my development and growth as a mentor enables me to give my best to my mentorees.

  • Self-reflection time – as I journey with others in their spiritual formation, am I making a priority of my own formation and growth?  Who is asking me the kinds of questions that I am asking my mentorees?  Who is speaking into my life, encouraging, equipping and empowering me?  We cannot give to others what we do not have ourselves.  Time spent focusing on my relationship with God will enable me to do the same for others.

What items would you add to a self-check list for mentoring?

Voices: Mentoring Training 2017

 

How do we journey with our mentorees as they seek to listen and discern the voice of God? Our lives are filled with myriad voices that clamour for attention. Sorting the whispers of the Spirit from the noise of the world is a constant challenge. Everyone is welcome to join us this year for one of our 2017 mentoring training days as together we reflect on guidance, listening to God, wisdom, prayer and discernment in the context of mentoring relationships.

 

Keynote Speaker – Sally Jones

  • Operates her own Sydney based practise in mentoring and spiritual direction
  • Co-teaches the Mentor Equipping training program (3 years of training and supervision)
  • Is a member of the committee of the Australian Christian Mentoring Network and a member of the Australian Network of Spiritual Directors
  • Sally spent 8 years working with International Teams Australia, a Christian Mission Agency. For 5 years she was actively involved in the Sydney Refugee Team, co-leading the team from 2011

 

There will be a local presenter in each of the workshops.

Cost:

$100 per participant

$75 for current ACMN Members with a 2017 paid membership (please note, this is not the same as being a registered user of this website)
Notes, morning and afternoon teas provided—(does not include lunch)

To register:

We are using the Eventbrite registration system to manage attendance this year. Please follow the links below.

Brisbane – 21st August

Sydney – 22nd August

Melbourne – 23rd August

Adelaide – 24th August

Perth – 25th August

 

Where can I contact the organiser with any questions?

Please contact acmentoringnetwork@outlook.com for further information.

Modes of Mentoring: a tool for use in contracting

By Rick Lewis

People often ask, ‘What’s the difference between mentoring and…?’ Conversations starting from that question typically emphasise the distinctives of mentoring and separate it from, for example, coaching, or spiritual direction, or supervision, or counselling or whatever. But it’s a mistake to give the impression that there are clear, agreed boundaries between these disciplines or that mentoring is a completely different helping process. The fact is that all these helping approaches – and more – do share significant areas of overlap, especially when it comes to methodology.

Furthermore, mentoring is carried out in many different ways. It does not always look the same. The specific shape of a mentoring partnership will vary according to the personal attributes of the mentor and the mentoree, the relational dynamic between them, the circumstances in which they find themselves, the impact of an organizational context, the areas for focus within mentoring, the desired outcomes, and other factors.

When I am in conversation with someone about possibly commencing a mentoring partnership I would typically start by sharing my very general description of mentoring as ‘identifying and promoting the work of God’s Spirit in another’s life’. Once we’ve established that, it’s helpful to clarify in more specific terms both what the other person is looking for and what I am able to offer. Otherwise, we could have very different ideas in our minds about how that general description is applied and therefore have diverging expectations that could lead to frustration and disappointment.

For this purpose I have developed a little tool by which I briefly describe ten common modes of mentoring and get some rough metrics about which of those modes fits with what they are looking for. I set out the ten modes on a radar diagram like the one below. Usually I’ll have it on a piece of paper and put it on a table between us so we can both write on it.

I describe the modes in this way:

  • Apprenticeship is for people starting out in a particular field of endeavour and are looking for someone to show them the ropes and practically demonstrate the necessary skills.

  • Dialogue is for someone seeking to develop their knowledge of a topic or area of study and looking for a conversation partner to push their thi8nking to the next level.

  • Fathering/mothering is for people who are wrestling with questions of identity and looking for someone who can help to clarify who they are, their gifts, abilities and potential.

  • Accountability is for people who know what they want to do but also know they will struggle to remain true to their best intentions without someone to check in on the critical issues.

  • Consultative mentoring is for people facing major decisions who require someone to help them consider the options from every angle so they can make well-informed choices.

  • Therapeutic mentoring is for people rebuilding their lives after some difficulty. This mode is often helpful after the completion of a period of professional counselling.

  • Sponsorship is for people seeking to develop fresh opportunities, expand their network and overcome relational barriers through connection with a trusted advocate.

  • Spiritual direction can be a discipline in its own right. As a mode of mentoring it is for people focussing on spirituality and seeking a guide to develop spiritual practices.

  • Coaching, too, is an established craft. It may also be a mode of mentoring in which a specific skill is honed with the aid of someone who knows how to promote peak performance.

  • Supervision is for professionals seeking to pursue high standards with someone to help them reflect deeply on their practice and to inquire into possible blind spots.

Then I ask the other person to rate each mode according to what they are looking for – less interested in a mode marked towards the centre; more interested marked towards the outer rim. No two people have exactly the same pattern. It’s an effective conversation starter and gives the mentor an opportunity to share their strengths so that both people can assess whether there is a good fit.

The ACMN is a peer learning community, so I’d like to ask for your insights on this. I’m currently developing a short questionnaire built around these ten modes to help with the metrics. It will have three questions per mode to help people assess if that’s what they are looking for in mentoring. If you have some suggestions or comments I’d love to hear from you.