Most working moms don’t have enough time with our own families. Between working all day and barely keeping our homes in order, who has time to invest in friendship? For many of us, time with friends is a pure luxury.
Yet I’ve come to realize that meaningful friendships aren’t just a luxury, they are a necessity. The key is investing in the right relationships. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
In Powered By Happy, author and executive Beth Thomas encourages us to “Hang With a Gang That Get’s It.” (Chapter 4) In other words, spend time with people who build you up. Friendships are worth the effort, but we must invest wisely.
1- Avoid Negative Circles and Gossip Sessions
A reader recently explained to me why she no longer attends bible study. As a new mom with little time on her hands, she decided that “group prayer” was really nothing more than a “gossip session.” Not only did she decide the study was a waste of time, the negativity actually started to bring her down.
Have you ever noticed how exhausting it can be to spend time with people who constantly complain? While a little venting is healthy, it can be draining to spend dinner with a friend who complains about her boss the entire evening or can’t seem to move the conversation off of her ex-husband.
I am not suggesting that we only spend time with people who have it all together. I am suggesting that we spend time with people who are more interested in the solution than the problem. Let’s face it, negative people – and positive people — are contagious.
2-Develop A Personal Board of Directors
Thomas likewise encourages us to develop a group of mentors – or, as she calls is, a “personal board of directors.”
Who are the women and men you trust most to give you advice and counsel? Who are the professionals you most want to emulate?
Over the last year, I have been intentional about spending time with a core group of mentors. Specifically, I try to have coffee or lunch with a woman I admire at least once a week. I’m not talking about women who lead storybook lives of “happiness.” These are real women who struggle with the tough issues – like career disappointment, broken relationships, and serious illness. Yet all of these women are rock star mentors because of their faith in God and positive attitudes.
What does a “personal board of directors” look like? I personally think it should be a diverse group – in terms of age, family status, and career path. (I also believe that women benefit from male mentors.)
A couple of years ago, I approached a neighbor who has three amazing, grown children who love God and each other. Even though our career paths are completely different, I asked her,
“Would you mentor me? You obviously did something right with your children.”
She was both flattered and humbled.
3-Seek To Be a Mentor
Likewise, we should look for opportunities to invest in others. A little over a year ago, a brand-new lawyer named Acacia sought me out as a mentor.
Here’s what I thought: I am a wholly inadequate mentor because I haven’t figured it out. I don’t want anyone to emulate me. I don’t have time. Yet I do have the desire and passion.
Here’s what I said: “I have no time. I am completely overcommitted. You will often have to email me three times before I respond. But never take my non-responsiveness as disinterest. I’d love to meet with you on a regular basis.”
So we started meeting. And praying. Believing that God had brought us together for a reason.
Acacia is now a dear friend and a true mentor to me! I’m so glad I didn’t put this relationship on hold or wait for mentoring to become convenient. Together, we are blessed to co-chair The Gathering of Women – a sold-out event of some 200 women who will meet this Friday. One of our goals is to connect professional women of faith who need mentors!
It’s easy to dismiss relationships during this busy season of life. (And if you’re in the middle of nursing and diapers, you must give yourself time and grace.) Yet investing in the right relationships can give us strength and encouragement, as well as the community we desperately need.
Are you too busy to invest in meaningful friendships? Have you considered gathering your own “personal board of directors” or serving as a mentor to someone else?
Looking for additional mentors? Be sure to check out these authors I know and admire:
Work, Love, Pray: Practical Wisdom for Young Professional Christian Women and Those Who Want to Understand Them, by Diane Paddison (2011) (Recently trending as a top book on Women & Business)
The Christian Mama’s Guide to the Grade School Years: Everything You Need to Know to Survive (and Love) Sending Your Kid Off into the Big Wide World (Christian Mama’s Guide Series), by Erin MacPherson (Just released with my endorsement!)
And in Working Women of the Bible, we discuss 13 incredible, timeless mentors!