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Can Men Mentor Girls?

Neely McQueen —  September 1, 2011 — 12 Comments

Women Forbes??? Imagine my surprise when I found an interesting article in it related to youth ministry.

This morning an article came across my news feed about how men could mentor women better. I began to think about the many mentors in ministry that I have had over the years, several of them have been men. And while they were never an official mentor relationships, they still deeply impacted me and how I do ministry now.

The truth is there are girls watching you and learning from you. Can you mentor them?

What does Women Forbes says:

Because women miss out on the bonding that takes place in the gray space where the professional and the private overlap and men work and play together, women get left out of the success loop.

I thought this was an interesting statement. One can see it in youth ministry. It makes sense for male youth pastors to spend their time with guys in the youth ministry but the mentorship and the guidance that happens in those times can be valuable…and we can find that girls miss those moments. So, how do we help the girls grow in leadership, especially leadership within the church.

1. Hire a female on your team- one who can care for the girls in your ministry. Even if the hire is an intern that doesn’t get paid but still plays a leadership role in your youth ministry. If women can be in these roles than young girls have someone to look up to and seek our for mentorship.

2. Provide a set Student Leadership program that is open to guys and girls. Make sure this program includes time for play and training…both are valuable to mentoring.

3. Train up your female volunteers to provide mentorship.

What do you think? Can men mentor girls?

 

Neely McQueen

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12 responses to Can Men Mentor Girls?

  1. My heart wan’s to say yes, my brain is screaming no!!! I’ve had experiences where I could speak into the life of a teen girl, but would rather have long term mentoring done by a female or host of them. It’s just such a hot potato issue… and also a trap in today’s culture… hate to say it, but sometimes its been at the point where you want to jump in and help, but stay on the side because of “appearances” The best i’ve done is built a team of female leaders who i can pass the ball off to in very organic ways so it doesn’t seem like i’m dumping girls on them (to either the leader or the teen). PS no offense intended by the usage of the word girl…

  2. I think men could mentor girls, but given that a man’s possible discipleship influence is so much more limited than a woman’s, and that there are so many risks/dangers in it, practically we should stay away from it. I don’t think the few unique things that men could offer over women are worth it.

  3. Seems like there are risks to a male-female holistic life mentorship, but as for mentorship in very specific areas, I think that it’s best for our girls to learn from the best person available. For example, many of the female musicians in our youth group have received training and mentorship from our male worship leader. And conversely, many of the teenage male cameramen and video directors have received training and mentorship from a female intern who used to work in television production.

    Personally, I was “mentored” as a teenager through my first few jobs by one of the male deacons at church who also happened to be CEO of a major company. He made a point to engage in one-on-one conversation … always in public places at church like a side pew or in a lit hallway … with a handful of teenagers in our youth group and talk with us about goal-setting, education, handling challenges at our minimum-wage summer jobs, leading in ethics amongst our peers, etc. His very frank “business talk” along with his interest in my development truly shaped who I am today professionally.

    So in specific contexts with appropriate boundaries, yes!

  4. http://matthewaaronfry.blogspot.com/2011/09/can-men-mentor-girls-my-response.html?showComment=1315008271789#c1065988158713909295

    Matthew Fry blogs on this too, interesting take, he comes at it from the flip angle (and also between adult staff).

  5. Hey Matt! I checked out the link…looks like he took down the response. I was able to find it in my google reader. Interesting thoughts. I love when a male youth worker is an advocate for women in ministry. I think he may have misunderstood my point a little.
    I would disagree with one statement…he said gender doesn’t matter. And I would say gender matters big time! Even his point that 90% of his ministry classes were guys…clearly gender is an issue.
    Maybe I’ll write a follow up blog!!

  6. Neely, I took down the response because I rushed through your post and didn’t pay as close attention as I should have to write a proper response. I saw the mention of Forbes and assumed it was referencing a professional mentoring. I apologize for rushing through it.

    I referenced that 90% of my ministry classes were male because it was in these classes that I often would hear the statement that referred to a pastor as being male, whether intentional or not it still reveals this hidden bias. It frustrates me to no end to see job descriptions stating that the search committee is looking for a “man of God.” As if a female is somehow incapable of filling the position.

    The individual I mentioned in my post has invested in me over the past year and a few months. She’s given me opportunities to grow by allowing me to take risks and have ownership in a successful ministry. It has not only helped me gain experience in ministry, but also by building my confidence in myself as a youth pastor.

    Any mentorship (professional or student to adult) needs to have boundaries. Her and I have the benefit of working at an employer that has guidelines for co-ed employee relationships already established. I feel that in any mentorship there must be guidelines that are established and if it is an opposite sex mentorship then it is even more important to have these guidelines.

    I definitely agree that it is much easier for me to invest in a male student than a female. If I am with one of the male students in our ministry I am able to relax a bit more and not have to worry as much. When you find yourself with issues in regards to genders and mentoring I definitely agree that having someone (or multiple someones) that you have trained up and ready to mentor the appropriate gender. Our high school pastor (who is male) has his wife and another key parent that are the main individuals involved with mentoring the girls.

    Great topic!

  7. Also, I now plan to write a better response that more fits the topic your blog deals with :-)

  8. Here is a better response (than my first attempt) to the question…

    http://matthewaaronfry.blogspot.com/2011/09/can-men-mentor-girls-my-reponse.html

  9. Yes, men can and should mentor girls, but with appropriate boundaries as some of the posts have already indicated. I serve girls who are “UNchurched”, in “UNmarried” homes, with little to no male influence in their lives. Many of them feel unattractive, unappreciated, and devalued by their male peers and have no adult “male/ mentor/ father figure” to affirm their worth. To my surprise, many of these young ladies have stated that I am the closest thing to a father they have, although I have not done much more than greet them with a smile and given them advise on occasion. I believe we have to balance mentoring between “Godly and Holy” women and men so that the child, male or female, can experience what God intended for families to be originally. Awesome discussion question!!! Thanks.

  10. I honestly feel a woman would be better to mentor a teenage girl. But if a girl wants to ask something I can help or answer I feel a man could be useful. But if a man isn’t (and be honest guys) he can’t help in a certain problem or situtation he should reassure the girl he is going to find the person or persons to help her. There I feel a man could be helpful. And when a girl sees that a man would go all out to help her even though he can’t,I think the girl would feel good that she is worth the time, help,effort.etc, put forth for her. Honestly I may be wrong here,but it may give some boost to her damaged self esteem. Thanks for letting me post. Hope to hear back from you. Wishing you the utmost best.

  11. I love all the comments on this post! Such great insight. Our girls need us to engage them and mentor them to fully understand God’s best for them!
    Question- if it’s better for a woman to mentor a girl…what happens if your ministry doesn’t have any women?
    And if it’s okay for a man to mentor a girl…what are appropriate guidelines?

    Love the conversation!

  12. I do not believe men should mentor young women one on one…women are naturally drawn to those who validate them, nuture and encourage them…it becomes a emotional connection that develop quickly in to a dangerous situation. A touch, a hug, a deep conversation can start the wrong kind of connection that the girl may start to see as romantic. Women should mentor young girls with men as the spiritual leaders where they belong. I have seen this tear relationships apart and create turmoil within families and churches. Mentoring is important, but a group setting is the best way to handle mentoring young people and teens…Adults should only mentor men with men and women with women…How many times have we heard of friendships “accidentally” developing in to more…and they say “we did not men for this to happen”, well if you never go there….It will never happen.

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