youth worker, student ministry, youth ministry

Leveraging Peer Mentors

By Doug Franklin June 25, 2013

Successful leaders have 3 types of mentoring relationships.First, they have upward mentors that serve as wise, trusted counselors.  These individuals tend to be older, experienced leaders who have already been where emerging leaders have yet to go.

Second, successful leaders are themselves downward mentors to younger, less experienced leaders called protégés.  This mentoring relationship helps successful leaders become leaders of leaders.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, successful leaders have peer mentors.  The Bible explains this relationship clearly and concisely in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT). “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”

Leaders cannot succeed if they act as the lone ranger.  Successful leaders build relationships with people in their own age group that serve in comparable leadership positions. Peer mentoring is most effective when the leaders are both the same gender, have common interests, and enjoy spending time together.  They may or may not develop a friendship, but both people must trust and respect their colleague.

Peer mentors understand what you’re going through because they’re going through similar experiences.  Since peer mentors are roughly the same age, they understand the issues you’re dealing with in your life and ministry.  Since they serve in similar roles, they appreciate the pressures you face on a daily basis.  Peer mentors provide encouragement and support when you face tough times.  They provide a sympathetic ear and another pair of eyes to help you gain a fresh perspective on your situation.  Moreover, you offer them the same resources when it’s the other person’s turn to face a crisis.

It may be hard to add one more relationship to your already busy life.  Therefore, look for peer mentors among people already involved in your various activities.  Who participates in your extracurricular activities?  Which individuals attend your youth group?  Are there people in similar leadership positions?  Once you identify a possible peer mentor, spend time with the person talking and doing things together.  Talk about your interest in being peer mentors who will help each other become better leaders.  When a leadership issue arises, call or meet with your peer mentor to discuss the situation.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More