Why Mentoring

Why Mentoring

Cheryl Lawrie

Young People

What mentoring can mean to young people

The experience of being an adolescent can be bewildering and lonely. Physical and emotional changes aside, beliefs that may have previously made sense no longer hold the same truth, while the expectations of parents and others are changing. No longer a child, the adolescent is in the midst of discovering how to be an adult.

Young people survive this confusing time best when they have three supports; a relationship with an adult role model, a way of discovering the beliefs and values by which they can live their life, and by belonging to a community.

Young people have always needed these things. In the past, many communities have developed them almost instinctively. Perhaps now, when the needs of young people may be greater than ever before, communities need to re-learn how to support young people through adolescence. Mentoring is one way of doing this. You can probably think of people who took on this role for you, many of them unofficially and informally. You will, no doubt, be thankful for the role they have played in your life.

Having a mentor is an opportunity for a young person to learn faith through watching and walking alongside a person of faith. They watch how a Christian works through issues, makes decisions, and lives a life of spirituality and discipleship. They see faith being integrated into life. They are challenged to do likewise in their own life.

Having a mentor also helps a young person develop healthy self esteem and confidence. It gives a forum where the young person can talk about their problems and concerns, where they can be challenged, nurtured and supported as they make decisions about their lives now and in the future.

Mentoring creates relationships which in turn help create community within a church congregation. It is a way of inviting people to share their lives and their faith together. You will find that your faith grows through this experience as well.

From Cheryl Lawrie’s book, Mentoring and Me, Uniting Education, Melbourne, 1998. Used with permission.

It says on Cheryl’s CV that she works for the Victorian Synod of the Uniting Church as the Coordinator for Ministry with Children and Families, and that she’s worked in the past with Uniting Education (the national education agency for the Uniting Church) as an education consultant, and for the Victorian Synod as a Regional Youth Resource Worker. It also says that she has a degree in theology, and is studying a post graduate diploma in education and training.

Her work in the last five years has focused on a couple of major areas, in particular resources that help congregations to find ways to form and express beliefs, and to develop communities that ‘grow’ healthy kids and young people. The writing of the Belonging Kit was a part of this, along with training leaders, Australia-wide, in its implementation.

Cheryl has also worked extensively on researching and developing models of mentoring for children and young people, and for those undertaking study for the ministry. During 1999 she was part of a team that developed an ongoing program of mentoring for new field staff employed by the Victorian Synod. She is particularly interested in the role of mentoring as a factor in the building of healthy communities, and has trained people across Australia to develop and coordinate mentoring programs, and to be mentors.

Cheryl is also known for her appreciation of any music by Luka Bloom, any book by William Dalrymple, and any food that involves chocolate.