Organic Mentoring: A Mentor’s Guide to Relationships with Next Generation Women by Sue Edwards & Barbara Neumann
How do women grow in their relationship with God and with a mentor? This perennial question is tackled by authors Sue Edwards and Barbara Neumann in their new book entitled Organic Mentoring. Not content with repackaging traditional models of discipleship, Sue and Barbara set out to listen to what women engaged in mentoring relationships need, what they hope, and what works for them. With transcripts of interviews with young women, guidance from the Scriptures, and wisdom through experience, this book is sure to be an encouragement to those worn out by mentoring relationships.
With an alarming statistic to begin the book, namely ‘that 80 percent of young women abandon traditional mentoring programs in the first six months of participation,’ the authors set to dive into how culture and women are different these days (23). One of the factors aiding to the stunting of growth for traditional mentoring programs is the program mentality. The list on p.27 indicates some differences between older women’s understanding of mentoring programs and younger women’s thoughts on mentoring. The big takeaway in this list is the overwhelming insistence that younger women desire a transparent relationship that focuses on the lived experiences of the mentor, not just on the impartation of sound biblical wisdom. I would also add that the importance of lived experiences and stories is important for older women as well, but in a different way.
One experience that Sue had with Sylvia explains the way traditional and postmodern women view the world but also how God can use women to shape others. “When Sylvia and I (Sue) me for coffee, she told me her story, peppered with expletives and “potty” language. She described her abusive stepdad who labeled her a tramp when was still a child, as well as his constant sexual innuendoes… she had a demon tattooed on her back” (48). The jarring words and transparent lay it all out on the line conversation must have startled Sue. Sue wanted to yell at her and beat her silly with the Bible but she knew that wasn’t the way forward. Instead, walking with her, showing her unconditional love was the way forward. This kind of mentoring relationship where transparency exists and a real investment of time and love for another person speaks volumes to the way God uses women to shepherd others.
Part of the organic mentoring process is the fluid environment it produces. Nowadays, not every woman wants one mentor for a long period of time. Barbara writes, “Many young women prefer to customize their mentoring experience to accommodate changing situations (90).” Preferring a non-linear path to mentoring, many women are facing personal, family, even sexual issues that need different mentors who have trod that same road before and offer their lives to share. Overall, I think this book is a wake-up call to both men and women in the church that we can’t do mentoring the old ways we have always done it, because today’s women live life differently.
Thanks to Kregel Ministry for this book in exchange for an honest review.