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The Power of Mentorship



by Peggy Bodde

 

Mentorship is vital for leaders. It’s why I founded the Sacred Work ministry, where I provide free career and leadership coaching for women. When women say yes to leadership, they also say yes to high-risk decisions, unwieldy problems, and a range of professional challenges. Because of the many stressors leaders face, strengthening women as leaders has incredible value. I like to use the hard experiences and failures I’ve faced to mentor other women leaders, because one positive outcome of learning the hard way is helping others learn the easy way. I call this recycled strength, a term inspired by 2 Corinthians 1:3–4:

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

 

Recycled strength happens when God comforts and strengthens Christian leaders through challenges, and they become equipped to strengthen others facing the same struggles. What a legacy of faith and one that’s especially important for women as they embrace their work as valued and seen by God. Sometimes we need to feel valued and seen by another person—someone who has fought doubt and discouragement and who has felt conflicted, unseen, and unimportant. Because God made a way for us, we can repurpose our faith and make a way for others.

 

When I started mentoring women, I was too naïve to overthink the process, and that was a gift. Have you ever made a commitment and later reflected, “If I’d known how difficult this would be, I may not have done it!” God is good to invite us quietly into big adventures in understated ways. The Holy Spirit often moves us to say “yes” before we even realize He’s asked the question.

 

I’ve talked to women leaders who either want to find a mentor or become one. Both groups are hesitant or overwhelmed about taking the first step. Potential mentors talk themselves out of mentorship because they assume they’re not qualified. Their hearts are open and ready, but they’ve convinced themselves they have nothing to offer. Imposter syndrome sneaks around and steals just enough confidence to keep them still. Women who want a mentor aren’t sure how to approach someone. They’re afraid of rejection, and they pile up a stack of “what ifs.” Do either of these scenarios describe you? If so, you’re in the right place.

 

I’ve collaborated with two remarkable women, and with our combined experiences, we’ll help you become a mentor or find one. Catherine Gates served as the executive director of Women in the Marketplace (WiM),[1] a nonprofit whose mission is to equip working women to pursue their faith and careers confidently for God’s glory. Before leading WiM, Catherine was a corporate leader in the technology industry. Erica Dvorak is a marketing expert who worked for startups and Fortune 500 companies before pivoting into a new career. She’s now the founder of Faith & Gather, a lifestyle media brand for Christian women, and she hosts the Faith Inspired Podcast. Catherine, Erica, and I have all been mentors and benefited from having mentors ourselves.

 

THREE CORE PRINCIPLES TO MENTOR WELL

Whether you’re mentoring people inside or outside your team, here are three core principles to guide you:

 

Rely on the Holy Spirit for wisdom. Catherine talked to me about a time when she had to speak hard truth into someone’s situation. At the end she said, “I’m off my soapbox now.” The person responded, “You weren’t on your soapbox. You were on your Spirit box!”[2] Regardless of how closely we work with someone, we can’t know all the factors impacting them and the issue we’re coaching them through. But the Holy Spirit knows. He grants us discernment so we know what to say, what questions to ask, and how best to help.

 

You can be genuine in your faith without being overwhelming. God is detailed, intentional, and specific. Following a routine script is performative and disingenuous. You don’t need to pray with someone or quote the Bible during every interaction. As Catherine told me, “My faith is part of who I am. I don’t need to challenge the other person’s belief system or force mine.”[3] We can authentically talk about God’s involvement in our own experiences without making the other person feel uncomfortable.

 

Know what you’re willing to offer. Mentees will approach you with a variety of needs. They may want to grasp how to live out their faith at work, or how to strengthen their leadership skills. A high-maintenance boss or coworker may be causing them stress, or they may want suggestions on how to balance life and work. Some mentees want to meet regularly, while others only want your involvement for the duration of their current challenge. Before agreeing to mentor someone, know the topics you’re willing to tackle and how much time you’re willing to invest.

 

SACRED WORK

As you experience leadership and faith challenges, count what God teaches you as legacy. He has gone before you and paved the way for you to walk in. Because the Holy Spirit lives within you, you are fully equipped to lead because you know who to follow. Go first, knowing He will recycle and repurpose what you learn in the lives and careers of your mentees.

 

Remember: God wastes nothing!

 

My prayer for you: Father, thank You for the leader reading these words. Thank You that she wants to give back. She isn’t keeping the knowledge and experience You’ve given her for selfish gain; she wants to pass it on. Help her, Father, to know who and how You want her to mentor. Guide her timing and connect her to the person who needs her most. I pray that Your legacy of wisdom, strength, and comfort will flow through her and empower those she mentors.

 

1. Catherine now serves as the vice president of business partnerships for the Polished Network.

2. Catherine Gates, interview by author, December 22, 2022

3. Catherine Gates, interview by author, December 22, 2022

 

Adapted from Sacred Work by Peggy Bodde (© 2024). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.


Peggy Bodde is an entrepreneur and the founder of Sacred Work, an organization that provides free career and leadership support for Christian women in the workplace. Peggy spent 25 years as a corporate executive and then pivoted to start a freelance writing business. Her clients include marketing firms and major textbook publishers. Peggy's passions are writing about the intersection between faith and work and empowering women to show up boldly in both spaces. She lives in the heart of the San Juan Mountains of Colorado alongside her husband, George, and rescue pup, Quill. Find her at peggybodde.com.

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