March 9, 2012
Random Thoughts on Mentoring
MENTORING. It’s one of those buzz words in Christian circles, but what is it? It boils down to modeling a lifestyle in front of someone who’s watching you (sometimes called a MENTEE, although that's just a weird word to me and I never use it).
At times, this is a really formal thing. The pastor meets with his key leaders and discusses strategy. A financial advisor meets with a new investor and explains all the ins and outs of economics. A sponsor meets with a recovering alcoholic and gives ideas for getting through the day-to-day challenges. A brother in Christ meets with his friend to ask if he’s winning the fight against his pornography addiction this week. A seasoned believer meets with a new convert to guide her in the basics of a Christian walk.
More often, mentoring is happening all around us in an informal way, but we don’t always notice it. Mom lets her little one tag along all day while she does the household chores, letting Little Susie use a small broom, wash the plastic cups, and knead the biscuit dough. An executive wanting to advance in his job watches his immediate supervisor, paying attention to the decisions he makes and the way he handles his work.
It’s something we are constantly thinking about in our line of work. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes more subtle, but in a world of children and teens who usually don’t have active adult role models, you can bet they’re looking.
The young, new mother is watching how I handle her baby, how I talk and coo with him, how I read the signs of hunger or sleepiness, how I sing him Bible verses or speak a blessing to him. After a while, she’s comfortable enough to ask advice and share her concerns.
The adolescent boy is curious about how Ken repairs the motor not only because he’s imagining repairing his own some day, but because it could turn into a marketable job skill, as well. He’s also watching how Ken reacts to setbacks and frustrations with the work.
The neighbors are watching how we react to each other as a family. The men and women both notice when Ken gives me a peck on the cheek or throws the Frisbee with the girls or serves me during this time I can’t walk, and in time they ask questions that open doors to talking about God’s plan for marriage and family.
Sometimes being open to this may seem like a chore, and I have to admit that I had less time for it in the U.S. It’s not convenient that someone shows up at the moment I need to discipline one of the girls. And there are times Ken would rather throw the screwdriver than keep working, I’m sure. Sometimes I’m tempted to retreat into a shell like a turtle and claim my private life as just that, but the truth is that people NEED to see God in us. They need to know how to live out this Christian life. They need to see real people making mistakes, getting up again, and learning as we go. They need advice and guidance from people who may only be a step or two ahead of them in the journey, but who value them enough to invest the effort. And while private time is important, it's a concept that needs to be evaluated. That’s another post for another day….
We’re intentional about mentoring here, but wherever your mission field is, you can be, too. Somewhere in your life, chances are that someone is watching you and maybe even imitating your life—analyzing your choices, noting the process you take in making decisions, mirroring your actions. Pay attention to those who are looking up to you, and think about the example you’re setting for them. Obviously this applies to those who live in your home, but your sphere of influence is probably much larger than that. Who can you reach in a mentoring relationship?
So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. 1Thessalonians 2:8
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35