Proud to be part of this amazing leadership team!
April is my birthday month and it always brings with it some reflection. I’m really working on embracing the titles and descriptions of “seasoned”, “older”, “Titus II“, and “mentor.” I have a dear young person in my life that told me when he was 3 years of age that I would never be old because I was too short! Short or not, the age scale is moving upward and I want to embrace these roles and live them to their truest fulfillment.
This spring and summer I have an opportunity to take a further step in that journey as I have the privilege to be part of a dynamic leadership training team. The team is a great mix of women from a variety of stages in life, denominational backgrounds and leadership experience. I’m considering my role on the team at my age and stage in life and have thought about what it means to serve in the capacity of a mentoring leader. As I “grow up” I want to be a leader who:
Is enthusiastic and interested–Enthusiasm cannot be taught, but it can be caught. A mentor who is enthusiastic about her relationship with God and her ministry calling will communicate that attitude through her words and actions. A mentor who exhorts will take the time to get to know what is going on in the lives of those she is influencing. Asking good open-ended questions is a great way to make this happen and it cannot be undervalued. A fundamental principle of teaching modeled by Jesus is meeting people where they are in order to guide them where they need to be. Discovering areas where motivation is needed can come through the asking of good questions.
Depends on prayer–The mentor who depends on prayer will be strengthened both personally and relationally. One author wrote that mentoring is not an “assembly line process.” For the Christian, mentoring is spiritual labor and requires spiritual warfare. The enemy of our soul does not want to see more faithful followers of Jesus. A wise mentor will recognize that it is only the power of the Holy Spirit who can bring transformation in the life of another. No greater model for this can be found than Jesus laboring in prayer on behalf of his disciples and those who would come after in John 17. A life that is characterized and strengthened by prayer will overflow into the lives of those we mentor.
Is intentional about understanding a younger generation–Personally, I think the church in general has created an environment that is not conducive to mentoring. Mentoring is something that happened naturally in cultures/society of past generations. Churches need to be more intentional to teach about the importance of mentoring. There needs to be a challenge put forth for older people to seek out those who are younger, and vice versa. I would love to see churches provide opportunities (SS classes, sermons, leadership requirements that younger/newer must be paired with older leader, etc.) for this type of relationship to develop. Too often churches are segregated according to age; as a result there are few opportunities to build cross-generational relationships. It is important to remember that mentoring is not a program, but rather it is a relationship. It’s not about match-making, but in the church it is about creating a culture that is conducive to the development of relationships that provide opportunities for biblical mentoring to take place.
Is willing to be vulnerable—In a mentoring relationship, there is danger to project the best of one’s self. Leadership trainees need to see authenticity. They need to see that there are struggles even in those they consider “mature.” The need to see how a mature Christian deals with those struggles—mistakes and all. C. S. Lewis said it this way: “Think of me as a fellow-patient in the same hospital who, having been admitted a little earlier, could give some advice.”
What’s your view of being (or having) a mentor leader?
©Brenda Pace, 2010