Mentoring

The Benefits of Mentoring

“Why don’t you become volunteer or a mentor?” “I don’t have time to do that. I have enough problems of my own, I don’t need to take on anyone else’s problems.” “Life is just too busy and hectic to do that.”  These are some of the excuses that many of us use when we are asked to volunteer our time and possibly be a mentor. It is true for most, life is busy. But speaking honestly, how many of us create our own busyness sometimes? Busyness for many means being productive, but after a busy day and reviewing how you spent your time, how productive were you?  Better yet, how much did you really produce that was beneficial? Mentoring or volunteering does not mean a full time job it’s usually a couple of hours a week.

The, “I have enough problems of my own” excuse really does not cut it. It’s been proven that for most of us who may be experiencing problems of a different magnitude, the best thing you can do is take some time away from your problems and volunteer your time. Sometimes the time away from your own problems can give you greater clarity in handling your own problems.

So what does being a mentor mean? Most dictionaries give a very basic definition such as: a mentor is a trusted counselor or guide. I prefer a simpler definition, “spending some quality time with someone helping them with needs they may have”.

So what is in it for me?

I am sure you have heard the saying, “it’s better to give than receive”, but did you know that this is actually backed up by research? Many of us feel too stressed and busy to worry about helping others, or say we’ll focus on mentoring and volunteering  when we have more ‘spare time’.   However, evidence shows that helping others is actually beneficial for your own mental health and wellbeing. It can help reduce stress, improve your emotional wellbeing and even benefit your physical health.  Social scientists say that when a person practices altruism it promotes positive physiological changes in the brain associated with happiness. Altruism means unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others, charitable acts of kindness. Altruism can be as simple as offering your seat on the bus to an elderly person or pregnant lady. The evidence in practicing altruism can reduce stress as well as improve mood, self-esteem and happiness. There are many different ways that you can help others as part of your everyday life.

Psychological benefits to Volunteering and Mentoring!

Psychological benefits of mentoring others include: (1) When you help others, it promotes positive physiological changes in the brain associated with happiness. These rushes are often followed by longer periods of calm and can eventually lead to better wellbeing. Helping others provides social support to that person, but is also encourages us to lead a more physically active lifestyle, distracts us from our own problems, allows us to engage in a meaningful activity and improves our self-esteem and competence.

(2). Volunteering and mentoring brings a sense of belonging and reduces isolation.  Being a part of a social network leads to a feeling of belonging, face-to-face activities such as mentoring a new employee with your work, volunteering your time with your church or at a social club where you will be around other people.

(3). Keeping things in perspective is helpful.  Often, we don’t realize the impact that a different perspective can have on our own outlook on life. Helping others in need, especially those who are less fortunate than yourself, can provide a real sense of perspective and make you realize how lucky you are.  This, in turn, enables you to stop focusing on what you think you are missing. Helping you to achieve a more positive outlook on the things that may be causing you stress.

(4). It helps make the world you live in a happier place. Carrying out good deeds doesn’t need to take a lot of time or even cost money. Small changes can make a big difference, such as volunteering, mentoring, doing something for a good cause or just simple random acts of kindness.

Below are a few organizations who rely on volunteers and mentors:     

  • Big Brothers & Big Sisters of America
  • Nursing Homes
  • Senior Centers
  • You’re local School System
  • You’re local Library
  • Your local Church or Worship Center
  • Crisis Pregnancy Centers
  • Rehabilitation Centers for youth and adults
  • Organizations that help the homeless and those down and out in life
  • Organizations that rescue those caught in sex trafficking
  • Any organizations and Non-Profits that deal with issues that interest you

A good quote to remember; “It became my mission to work with young people to help show them the way, not save them! But help them understand that there are choices that can be made that will make the difference for the rest of their lives.” By Jose A Aviles, Peer Mentorship in High School: A Comprehensive Guide to Implementing a Successful Peer Mentorship Program in Your School

Conclusion:

Even the Bible is big on mentoring. Although the word “mentor” is not used in the Bible, there are many passages in scripture that focus on the idea of mentoring. Here are a few of the verses that speak to being a mentor and the mentee. 2 Timothy 2:2, Titus 2:3.4, Proverbs 27:17, Proverbs 22:6, Psalm 71:18. 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Proverbs 1:5. In many ways, what Jesus Christ did with his twelve disciples is a great example of what a Mentor does.  He spent 3 years with them teaching and modeling for them what he wanted them to do after he was gone.

I served as a mentor for many years and it was very rewarding. I probably learned and gain as much as my mentee’s gained.  Playing even a very small part in someone else’s growth and success is rewarding on so many levels, and it’s educational. You can rest assured that as much wisdom as you impart, your mentee will teach you some new and valuable things as well. It has been said “Mentors change lives, but mentees change mentors’ lives more.”

So stop worrying about the what-ifs and jump in. Life isn’t going to get any less busy or complicated. Make “someday” today and be a mentor. What a great time to start since January is National Mentoring Month.

Jim Katsoudas