I remember being asked to be a MOPS Mentor. At the time, I didn’t know what that entailed, and truthfully, I wasn’t sure I wanted to find out. Still, I decided to watch some other mentors, see what they did, how they did it and copy that.
As I watched, I learned one thing: These mentors were amazing! One of them planned playdates at her house, another organized meals for moms-in-need, another offered babysitting services. And of course, there was the mentor who brought gourmet pastries and casseroles to the meetings … every single time.
And then, there was me. I made it through the preschool mommy years by the skin of my teeth. I remember the day my son started Mother’s Day Out, I came home and went to sleep – for four hours. Then there was the time that my son told his teacher that my job was “reading magazines” because that’s what the other mommies and I did while our kids played. I was the mom who purchased Rice Krispies treats, took them out of their wrappers and arranged them on a platter for class parties. Clearly, my mentoring skills were going to be somewhat deficient.
Concerned, I spoke to our Coordinator. I told her there had been a mistake and there must be someone, ANYONE, who would be a better Mentor than me. I thought my confession would give her the opportunity to gracefully agree, and that I could get out of this Mentor gig with no one being the wiser. The problem was …. she didn’t agree. In fact, she told me, “You don’t have to have all the answers, and you don’t have to do it like everyone else. Just recognize that you are a little farther down the road than these moms are, and give them what you can.”
I had focused on all of the mentoring things I could not do. I believed just because I could not or did not approach the mentor role like someone else, I would be incapable of being an effective Mentor at all.
That was all a lie. I wonder if it’s a lie some of you have fallen prey to as well. Here’s the truth: What I brought to my Mentor role, and what you’ll bring to yours, will be unique. They’ll be unique because WE are unique. We all have different backgrounds, experiences, skills and knowledge. We bring different parenting styles, family structures and individual stories as moms. Mentors and mentoring styles will be as unique as the mothers we serve. And every mentor and every style is valuable.
“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” – Oscar Wilde
I did not bring homemade casseroles and desserts to our meetings. I brought store-bought donuts and showed that the content of our hospitality is not as important as the act of being hospitable.
I did not host playdates in my home. I met moms at Panera or Starbucks and reinforced the fact that time spent with other adults was not only OK, but necessary.
I did not talk about perfect parenting. I talked about how you can mess up and your child will survive. I talked about being a mom who is just doing the best she can.
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
– Romans 12:6-8 (NLT)
God made us unique. He’s given us different gifts. Mentors, the best thing you can do is to embrace yourself exactly as God made you. He is giving you distinct experiences and skills and he will use them at precisely the right moment, with precisely the right woman. Put yourself out there, just as you are, and watch him work!
This book excerpt was taken from the MOPS Mentor Book for Free Indeed 2017-18.
Julie Salva is an empty-nesting, mentoring, teaching, writing and Diet Mountain Dew-drinking mom from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. In addition to her past mentoring role with her local MOPS group, Julie teaches Bible studies at her church and online and is one of the founders of Creating for Christ. You can find her at juliesalva.com.