During the month of March, we’ve dedicated Thursdays to talking about mentoring, why it’s important and practical tips about how to go about doing it. Today’s post is by a man who’s worked hard to mentor younger ministers, as well as get mentoring. Jim is the preacher at the Crestview Church of Christ, and is one of the best ministers and encouragers I know. Jim consistently writes great content for leadership/ministry at his blog over at www.godhungry.org. You can follow him on Twitter here. And I highly recommend checking out his blog here.
For much of my adult life I have desired to be mentored. As a young minister, it was very clear to me that I had much to learn. Consequently, I was very intentional about seeking out people from whom I could learn. Over the years I have gained from the following:
- Several trusted ministers who were very patient as I came to them again and again with my questions and difficult situations. Some of these people have been a very important part of my life for many years.
- Relationships that I had for a particular season of ministry. That is, for a season I learned from these people and stayed in contact.
- Occasional coffees and lunches with particular people. These were more than conversations. I often came to these moments with numerous questions I needed to ask.
- Individuals through their biographies and autobiographies. At other times, I saturated myself with the writings of Henri Nouwen, N.T. Wright, Gordon MacDonald, John R.W. Stott, C. S. Lewis, etc.For many years I wouldn’t have used the word “mentor” to describe what I needed from these people. I just knew that I had much to learn from others.As you read this note, I want to ask you:
Are you being mentored by anyone?
As you think about this question, know that I continue to be mentored by others. I am still intentional about learning from others. I look for people from whom I can learn.
Are you willing to be mentored?
The following are a few questions that might be helpful in reflecting on this:
- Who am I learning from right now?
- Am I serious about growing and changing?
- Do I really listen to trusted people?
- Is there anyone in my life with whom I talk and then actually follow through on something that person suggested?
- Am I serious about moving from “What shall I do?” to “What kind of person wilI I be?”Look for someone from whom you can learn. Ask to spend some time with that person. Go prepared. Ask good questions. Listen. Write down what you wish to remember. Listen to this person’s words and watch this person’s manner. Be fully present when you are with this person.
Are you investing in anyone else’s life?
First, I am not talking about someone who might be presumptuous and think someone would be blessed just to spend time with him. Blessing someone through a mentoring relationship works best when that person is living out of the soul, not the ego.
Mentoring is more than dispensing information or trying to get someone to recognize one’s wisdom. It is the willingness to make oneself vulnerable
and available to another. It is the willingness to be fully present with another. It is a willingness to step into another’s life (if invited) to add value. It can occur one-to-one or in a small mentoring group.
This kind of investment can be helpful in the following ways:
• Mentoring can help shape another’s life.
• Mentoring can help a person as he travels through life.
• Mentoring can put various problems and struggles in perspective. • Mentoring can encourage and help another see the future.
Most of all, you can bless another by simply paying attention to him. Before you conclude that you have very little to offer, let me remind you that there is only one you and you may be used uniquely by God to make a difference in another’s life.
Finally, three suggestions:
(These are simply places to begin.)
- Begin by praying that God would lead you to a person from whom you can learn.
- Attempt to schedule a time (perhaps coffee or lunch) to be with someone from whom you would like to learn. Simply tell that person you would like to ask questions about ministry and life. Come prepared with questions.
- Consider inviting a person to coffee or lunch who might have less experience in life and ministry than you. Be fully present and listen to that person’s words and heart. Affirm whatever you see that is good, right, and godly. In other words, don’t try to do anything or fix anything. Simply be present and see what might develop from that relationship.