In the past year, our organization adopted a model to develop a mentor program for parents of children with special needs. While this type of a program may sound milquetoast compared to something as exciting as a national seminar tour, a training certification or a weekend retreat, there is powerful transformation available through such a paradigm.
Let’s examine just a few of the excellent reasons we are moving in this direction:
- Jesus demonstrated a mentoring model. If our Savior found it useful to model godly character by living amongst his disciples, teaching them as they went through ups and downs together, shouldn’t we consider doing the same? Jesus was the ultimate example of what excellent mentoring looks like. He patiently demonstrated to his disciples how to live and how to share the truth. He then had them practice what he had shared with them as he looked on. The disciples worked side-by-side with Jesus until he had made them ready to be released to replicate what he had started.
- Effective methods, behaviors or habits are worth imitating. How many times have each of us heard the saying, “No need to reinvent the wheel!”? When we know what works in a given situation, it behooves us to go out and share that with others. An unobtrusive way to do that is by working alongside a peer. This provides the opportunity to challenge one another and demonstrate in a non-threatening, non-judgmental way, “This is what I have found that works.” This saves another weary traveler the difficulty of having to figure out answers the hard way. In other words, this model is far more efficient and compassionate than personal trial and error.
- Isolation is cast out by working with a mentor. Humans tend to naturally be averse to pain. And when we live a life that includes some painful circumstances, we can find ourselves left alone, even avoided by others. When we work with a mentor, there is another person who is willing to invest in us and find common ground with us, which naturally decreases feelings of isolation. There are few things more comforting than knowing another human being has walked a mile in your shoes. And it certainly builds a person up to know that someone cares enough to share their personal experience for your benefit.
- We learn from each other when we work through life shoulder-to-shoulder. Different from the teacher-student model, mentoring puts people on much more of a peer-to-peer level. Since the mentor is just a few steps ahead of the mentoree, mutual growth can occur. There’s often teamwork and thinking things through in problem-solving that helps individuals in both roles to gain fresh insights. What a terrific opportunity to both be blessed and be a blessing!
These are merely a few of the reasons why our organization is committed to the mentoring of parents on a spiritual, emotional and practical level. Since God made us for relationship with both Himself and others, it makes no sense to neglect this opportunity to be transformed for our good and His glory! In the days and months ahead, look for many more posts on this topic as we prepare and grow our mentors.