In moments when we feel we're doing life alone, maybe we are. Have you ever considered how you might benefit from mentoring a peer and being mentored yourself by a peer? Read on as Natasha Sistrunk Robinson challenges us to a new kind of community.
Power of Peers
By Natasha Sistrunk Robinson
When I was an athlete in high school, it was my peers who provided the motivation and encouragement to be Number #1. It was my peers who had friendly competitions to become the academically best in class, and to represent our families, communities, and school well.
During my college years of receiving physical, military, and leadership training at the United States Naval Academy, it was my peers - in addition to my professors and military instructors - who took the time to motivate and support me on the difficult path to graduation.
We need a committed community of people surrounding us if we are to grow and become our best selves.
Even in ministry, I have found invaluable benefits for encouraging mentoring as intentional discipleship within the context of small mentoring communities, instead of one-on-one mentoring relationships. There are several benefits for mentoring within a small peer group:
1. It relieves the unrealistic pressure of a single mentor.
2. It creates an environment of positive peer pressure and accountability.
3. It creates a community of ownership, learning, and growth because we are all in this together.
4. It creates a dynamic learning experience because of the diversity of voices and thought.
5. It reflects the biblical reality that God said it was not good for humankind to be alone.
Aloneness. Isolation. Exclusion. These are words I have heard from too many women either in personal conversations at church, in my home, on the phone, or through social media.
Somewhere in our deepest places, all of us have had this feeling of loneliness. The question becomes then: What are we going to do about it? God cares and he has provided an answer. It dawned on me several years ago as I was leading and creating these opportunities for personal growth and relationship development for others, that I was not intentionally doing the same thing for myself. I realized that I had a responsibility to create the kinds of communities that I needed to thrive holistically, and in cultivating these healthy and loving communities, others would thrive as well.
We all need a safe, loving, and helpful community of peer mentors. As I wrote in my book, Mentor for Life, "We can learn to trust others with our needs and ask, expect, and even teach others how to love us well."
I need the safety of like-minded peer mentors to nurture, encourage, pray with and for me, love and lift me up as I am becoming the person God intended. The blessing of a true mentoring relationship is that it is mutually beneficial. As freely as we are willing to bless people, we must also be willing to receive the blessings of others in our own lives. This is the grace of God for you.
Natasha Sistrunk Robinson is the author of Mentor for Life: Finding Purpose through Intentional Discipleship and the visionary founder of the nonprofit, Leadership LINKS, Inc. She is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary Charlotte (cum laude, M.A. Christian Leadership) and the U.S. Naval Academy. A former Marine Corps officer, Natasha has over 15 years of leadership and mentoring experience in diverse settings. She is a sought after leadership consultant, mentoring coach, and national speaker. Connect at www.natashasrobinson.com, on her blog www.asistasjourney.com, Twitter @asistasjourney, or www.facebook.com/NatashaSistrunkRobinson.