Mentoring in Thriving in Ministry is about learning. If learning is not taking place for both the mentor and the peer learner, then Thriving would not describe this as a mentoring relationship.
Thriving mentoring for peer learning focuses the experience of shared context into questions and explorations. Thriving one-on-one mentoring focuses the individual’s experiences in the context to reflect, create new strategies and behaviors, action, and then reflect on the new action.
In both instances, the result is a new perspective, a new understanding from which to view the context, and a new set of actions for the present.
Integrated and Engaged Mentoring
The traditional model of mentoring is ‘wisdom’ from the mentor poured into the mentee. This model does not engage the mentor because the mentor is repeating what she or he already knows. This model also does not engage the peer learning because the learner/mentee is not framing and asking questions that relate most immediately to their context and leadership. Mentoring as master to mentee is not an effective model.
In the Thriving process, mentoring is about learning for both the mentor and the mentee. Mentors have experience in the peer learner’s context and therefore have both a wider and deeper view of the possible challenges. Thriving mentors are trained as listeners, as questioners, as adventures and explorers who journey along with the peer learner. Just as the peer learner discovers new insights, so the mentor discovers new dimensions of a familiar context.
7 Elements of a Learning-Centered Mentoring Model
Based on the work of Lois J. Zachary:
Mutuality – each learning partner has specific responsibilities and particular contributions to the relationship.
Learning – the mentor facilitates learning by creating a safe learning environment and by guiding the conversation deeper. The peer learner facilitates learning by discerning, planning, implementing and evaluating her own learning.
Relationship – the mentor and peer learner build trust and accountability as well as tend to this relationship over the course of mentoring time.
Collaboration – the learning model of mentoring expects that all learners are working together towards the focus of the learner’s stated goals.
Partnership – respect and listening closely for one another’s needs builds the partnership in mentoring. Both mentor and peer learner are accountable for the results of the learning goals.
Mutually defined goals – learning must have a direction. Hence the learning goals determined by each peer learner are discussed in both the peer group and with the mentor. Peers and mentors may make suggestions to more clearly refine or define goals. It is important that these goals have an immediate application in the context of the peer learner and a connection to the experience of the mentor.
Development – developing the skills, knowledge, abilities, capacities and thinking to thrive in the current ministry to which you are called and to prepare to thrive in potential new ministries that grow from your strengths is the purpose of the Thriving in Ministry program. Mentoring promotes the mentee’s development for the benefit of the mentor and the future of the church.
Mentoring in Thriving in Ministry is about taking the books from the shelves of our experience, opening those books, and integrating the insights to serve us now and in the future. As learners, we say that we are ‘living libraries’ for one another. Mentoring may be exercised by other models or called other things. In Thriving in Ministry, mentoring is about learning from our contexts, from ourselves, and with one another.