Table mentoring: to advise and counsel another in an intimate setting, such as around a table; discipleship over brownies.
My first experience with table mentoring began around a 1970’s style dining room table. A couple invited my husband and me over for dinner. One night of chicken casserole turned into years of shared dinners, chicken nugget lunches with the kids, and late night talks over chocolate pie. Jeanna was just five years ahead of me in life and marriage, but her head start helped set the pace for my roles as wife and mother.
A few years later, our church offered a formal mentoring program. I filled out a questionnaire and waited for my match. A soft-spoken mom of three introduced herself and invited me to her home. She loved Jesus and her family—which were my goals going into the relationship. We started meeting around a table at Chick-Fil-A a few times a month. She taught me about biblical womanhood, being a godly wife, and putting Jesus first.
The Mentor Sandwich
For the next round of matches, I threw my name in as a mentor and a mentee. While I didn’t feel qualified as a mentor, the women who led the group reassured me. I loved Jesus and loved his Word; that was enough to qualify me. I befriended two new women: a young new believer and an older mom of four. It was a mentor sandwich, and I sat happily in the middle.
That year got hard. I delivered my first child, and being a mom didn’t come as easy as I expected (don’t laugh; it happens to a lot of us Type A’s). Hormones and a colicky baby left me frazzled. The very last thing I wanted to do was read my Bible. But a new Christian was coming over, so I needed something to talk to her about. I also scheduled a meeting with my mentor which gave me even more accountability. So I kept reading and praying and meeting with my girls.
When we mentor another, we are kept accountable to what God is teaching us. (Sue Donaldson, Table Mentoring)
Mentoring Changes Lives
I was transparent with my mentor. We sat around her oak kitchen table as I shared how hard those newborn baby days were. I knew she understood; she had done it four times over. She never shamed me or admonished me. She welcomed me with understanding and showered me with encouragement.
My trials helped me understand my younger friend. I tend toward self-righteousness; I think people should do the right thing because it’s the right thing. My struggle to read the Bible consistently gave me a new appreciation for her struggle. As we ate slice-and-bake cookies hot out of the oven, we talked about our shared desire to be consistent with our Bible study. We both grew in that vulnerable place.
Those years of formal and informal mentoring helped me grow as a Christian, a wife, and a mother. Without that added instruction, encouragement, and accountability, I would have walked a crooked, uphill path to where I am now.
Without #tablementoring I would have walked a crooked, uphill path to where I am now. Click To Tweet
The most important aspect of mentoring is strengthening another’s walk with God. Make that the focus of each time together. (Sue Donaldson, Table Mentoring)
Table Mentoring: A Simple Guide to Coming Alongside
Because of the powerful impact of mentoring in my life, I look for opportunities to promote mentoring. Mentoring should be a part of every believer’s life. We all need someone a few steps ahead to share her wisdom with us. And we all have a little wisdom we can share with someone a few steps behind.
My author friend, Sue Donaldson, has an incredible mentoring resource. Her book, Table Mentoring: A Simple Guide to Coming Alongside, is a short and comprehensive resource on all things mentoring. She covers all the “wh” questions–why, who, when, where, and what to talk about. The book also includes tips on avoiding the awkward and embracing the lovely. You can read through these short chapters solo, with a friend, or an entire group. Sue provides everything you need to come alongside someone to learn and/or teach.
If you order Table Mentoring through Sue’s website, welcomeheart.com, use the code mentoring15 to receive 15% off your purchase. This coupon code is good through September 10, 2017. If you prefer Amazon, order here and help support this website (but no 15% discount).
Grab a book or two, read through it, and get ready to experience the powerful impact of table mentoring!
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