We encourage our mentors towards faithfulness in mentoring and challenge each mentor to a relationship that goes past the two-year commitment. However, one of the greatest obstacles that hinders a long standing relationship is the unrealistic expectation of the mentors when they first begin. The hope of this blog is through sharing recurring patterns observed in mentor-protégé relationships, mentors will be able to better endure the marathon.
The Honeymoon Stage – Mentors often start out with a Utopian dream. Their blissful forecast generally shows signs of one of these four; the presupposition of protégé perfection, the expectation of problem-less protégé progress/ development, effortless communication, and “fun every hangout” (This is usually seen when mentors break the bank in extravagant places during the first few hangouts in hopes of appealing to their protégés.) While we hope that our mentors would want the best for their protégés, we want them to also remember that mentoring is a difficult marathon and not a quick sprint.
The Wall Stage – This is when the “rubber meets the road” and mentoring moves from a whimsical ethereal concept unto real life. The mentor begins to realize the tough nature of keeping a mentoring commitment to a human being. Phone numbers change, emotions wane and unrealistic mentor expectations become unmet. After the mentors hit the wall there are generally two responses…
The Fight or Flight Stage – In this stage the mentor begins accessing how they will deal with the revelation made possible in the Wall Stage. Will they honker down and fight through the tough nature of mentoring or will they fade away to pursue the next project. Our prayer at this stage is that they would pursue a “come what may” posture. No matter the obstacle the mentor will lead out and model faithfulness even if the fruit of their labor is not clearly seen. While the “flight” mentors fade away the “fight” mentors show a desire to pursue prayer, creativity, and wisdom in arranging hangouts. (ex. Some of those practical ways to fight include meeting with their protégés early morning for scheduling purposes, show up to the protégés lunches periods and extra circular activities.)
The Genuine Relationship Stage – This is the “gravy” space of the relationship coordinators job. This is when we see that the mentor understands that his/her job is simply to share and live out the gospel consistently in from of their protégé. The expectation is not that the relationship will be problem free rather the mentor understands that they will cling to God in the midst of their tough times. In this stage mentors also learn to appreciate the good moments and milestones in their protégé’s life. (ex. birthdays, class promotions and birth of a child in the family)
The Life-Long Relationship Stage – This is the dream for all of our matches. In this stage our mentors don’t just see this as not just being a program, chore or a race to the two – year line. In this stage our mentors see the need to be present in their protégé’s life as a mentor and a friend for the rest of their lives. In Champions of Hope’s dream sequence, we long for this day for all of our matches, some 15-20 years down the road we hope our current protégés will be calling their mentors for advice on how they can better mentor their protégés in the future.
-Zach Middleton, Relationship Coordiantor