When I worked in the financial services industry I had a wonderful mentor who invested hugely in my life and career. I’ve also had two great mentors in the my ministry. As I reflect on these relationships now, I have to confess that the benefit was largely one-way. They invested in me, but I gave little in return. I was especially convicted of this when I read this article on providing value for your mentor – or giving them a return on their investment. Here’s a summary of the main points, with my own “adaptations” for Christian ministry in square brackets.
1. Send “TOUs” or thinking of yous. Share articles of interest or relevant news stories. Keep your mentor’s projects and areas of influence on your radar so that you can weigh in periodically on thought-provoking topics.
[Is your mentor preaching a series of sermons on the Psalms? Is he writing a book on justification? Does he have an interest in counseling? Why not do some of his research for him? Set up a Diigo account and bookmark relevant articles for him.]
2. Provide insight into the rank and file of your organization. By definition, you are more junior (in terms of age or experience) than your mentor. Senior leaders often feel out of touch with the cubicle culture and lack meaningful interaction with the front lines of their organization. You may be able to share reactions of your peers to a new corporate policy or change in organizational structure. Giving your mentor feedback or insight into employee morale is a great way to give back.