Tag Archives: mentoring

Why Mentoring Matters

designMentoring matters because we need help! As individuals, we need help in finding a meaningful place where we can invest our lives. Potential mentors need help because they can’t accomplish everything on their own. The culture needs help to make this world a better place in which to live.

Mentors serve others as coaches, advisors or trainers. We provide ideas and encouragement. We help other people develop their strengths and improve on their weaknesses. Families, organizations and communities benefit from the work of mentors. Many of the greatest leaders on earth enjoyed the advantage of having someone personally train them.

John Maxwell said, “One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.”

Not compelling enough?

Consider:

If no one serves as a mentor, everybody starts at ground zero and has to learn everything by him or herself.

If no one serves as a mentor, organizations are left to start from scratch when there is a leadership transition.

If no one serves as a mentor, vision and wisdom dies when the leader dies.

If no one serves as a mentor, emerging leaders miss valuable training and struggle unnecessarily.

If no one serves as a mentor, organizational progress is stymied – we all pay the price.

The world is a better place because of mentors. Among some well-known mentor/mentee relationships are General Colin Powell: mentored by his father, Luther Powell; Dr. Martin Luther King: mentored by Benjamin E. Mays; Henry David Thoreau: mentored by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Quincy Jones: mentored by Ray Charles.

I want to encourage you to be a mentor. Regardless of your age, skill level or experience, you know more than someone else. Regardless of your field of service or expertise, you have something of value to share. You have the responsibility to share your knowledge with others.

Here are few ideas on becoming a mentor:

Identify: How do we find the right person to mentor? If they are open and teachable – there’s your person. Talk with them about your idea and see if they have interest.

Idealism: forget about finding the perfect person to mentor. You’re better served to find someone who is already close to you and who trusts you.

Improvement: those who enjoy the tutoring of a mentor increase their performance. Training pays off!

Investment: like a great stock, infusing others with valuable resources such as knowledge results in great dividends for everyone involved.

Intentionality: You must make a commitment to make mentoring happen. It will not just occur automatically.

Innovate: don’t feel like you must follow a curriculum or be bound to a program developed by others. Be yourself and go with the flow.

Inspire: be sure that your goal is to make the life of the other person better. Motivate them, challenge them and help them to grow. Of course, you will also grow through the process.

Influence: when a friend knows you care enough about them that you are willing to mentor them, you will influence them to be the best they can possibly be. Who knows, perhaps you can alter the direction of someone’s life.

Mentoring matters. It’s worth your effort. Someone is waiting for you.

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Investing in Others: Buy Low and Never Sell

designPlease don’t take financial investing advice from me. My pattern has been, “buy high and sell low.” Actually, to my shame, I don’t even put that much thought into investing money. I tend to ignore it, hoping that magically, my money will increase. Not a productive plan.

When it comes to relationships, especially ministry relationships with younger ministers, I seem to have more of a knack. One of my greatest joys in ministry is to invest myself into the ministry of a younger man. This isn’t something I have to remind myself to do – I tend to gravitate naturally to it. For that, I am grateful.

I feel as though we should find people younger than ourselves – unproven, raw and green – and “buy into them.” And we shouldn’t “sell” on that relationship unless it is absolutely necessary. Perhaps it is because my elders invested so heavily in me. Some never gave up on me, although they had every reason to do so. Maybe I innately grasp the truth that, if I invest wisely, my influence may live on after I’m gone. It is certain that we have heard too many young people say, “no one else believed in me or gave me a chance.”

The Apostle Paul is the standard bearer when it comes to investing in others. Rather than viewing his famous relationship with his spiritual son, Timothy, let’s consider his lesser-known, but equally as efficacious relationship with the Thessalonians. Paul writes to them from his heart: “…Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” (1 Thessalonians 2:8 NIV)

Here is a very busy man with a lot of responsibility that is willingly and joyfully investing his life into the lives of others. They didn’t have it all together. He had little or nothing of earthly value to gain from his investments. Yet he saw something in them that motivated him to give of himself to them.

We all need to love someone enough that we give our time and attention to them.

Paul expresses his compassion for his friends:

“…we were like a mother feeding and caring for her own children.”1 Thessalonians 2:7b (NLT)

We see tenderness and empathy and patience. In this passage, unlike others, we do not see Paul demanding progress nor censuring them for their failures. Rather, he presents his relationship as a mother – feeding and caring for his friends.

Too many of our relationships are performance and productivity based. I am guilty of running short of patience when a leader is slow to develop or, even worse, unproductive long-term. Perchance this is the case because I have been the one who is unproductive.

The “buying low” part of this equation has to do with recognizing potential. Anyone can spot an Apple stock, once it has developed. In other words, there are plenty of people to jump on the celebrity bandwagon. Once a person becomes successful, everyone wants to be his or her friend. It takes true perceptivity and discernment to be able to identify a diamond in the rough.

But, what do I have to gain from my investments?

While this is a reasonable question and we should not be ashamed to ask it, the point is not about returns – it is about investment. Many of us who impart into others expect and even demand productivity. However, an honest evaluation of our relationships may prove that we have actually become a burden to those in whom we are investing. We consider ourselves as serving but we actually are being served.

Paul says,Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.” 1 Thessalonians 2:9 (NIV) He makes it clear that he is the one sacrificing. This is not a pity-party – he is simply pointing out that he has been a giver and not a taker.

   Leaders: If we only take from a relationship, we cannot consider ourselves the investor; we have become the beneficiary.

Relational investments are expensive. When endowing and entrusting others, especially less experienced people, we owe them. We owe them the extremely valuable assets of honestly, integrity and character.

You yourselves are our witnesses—and so is God—that we were devout and honest and faultless toward all of you believers.1 Thessalonians 2:10 (NLT) In the times in my life when I was hesitant to invest in others, perhaps it was because of a lack of these elements in my life. I simply didn’t have enough to share!

     Relational investments are expensive for a reason. The resources we are investing and the return we are expecting are not monetary – they are eternal.  

Buy low and never sell. This is all about promise and potential. It’s about patience and productivity.

So, find a less-experienced person than yourself. Same gender. Less-than-perfect. Build a relationship. Serve them. Pour into them. Care for them. Be patient with them. Invest in them, and watch how you both grow.

 


Respect the Generations

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Having grown up in the church and making my livelihood in ministry my entire adult life, I have an observation: every generation thinks they are right. In the family of God, there is a big problem between people who just can’t seem to accept the way the “other generation” prefers to do church. There are divisions about music style, Bible versions, proper attire for church services and even whether or not coffee should be served in church. This problem is not going away and it keeps the church from being as effective as it could be. Rather than fighting the devil, we fight each other.

I have a proposal for our consideration: Let’s not disrespect what God is doing among generations other than ours. This goes for every generation.

For the elders: Of course the younger generation is making some mistakes. We all do when we lack the experience and wisdom that is needed in life. They want to change everything and they have no idea of the ramifications. This is part of the growth process. They act like they know it all. Keep in mind that those who went before you thought the same thing about you, and it was probably true. Our job is not to force the younger crowd into our interpretation of the “right way”. Our job is to encourage them to experience God in a fresh and authentic way. That way will be different than your way, just like your way was different from those who went before you. Remember, there was a generation before you that could have criticized every thing you did. Hopefully they supported you. Offer the same benefit to those who are coming along behind you. They are counting on you – they are looking for heroes, not critics.

For the younger: Remain teachable. Those who have been around longer than you know more than you do. Don’t presume to have it all figured out. Be sensitive and respectful.  They have paved the way for you. If they hadn’t paid the price, your life would be harder. Show gratitude. Find a mentor, a spiritual grandfather. Listen to him. Obey the Scriptures: I Peter 5:5-6 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (NIV)

For all generations: Let’s share mutual respect and support. Celebrate the differences. Operate with grace and tolerance. Be intentionally multi-generational in ministry. If a church does not include every generation, it is out of balance.

And finally, stay humble (we are not God).  It is very presumptuous to think that whatever we prefer is what God prefers. Our ways are His ways, my music is His music, and so on. On judgment day, God will sort out Bible versions and hymns vs. hip hop. Until then, let’s embrace those who are different than we are.  The future of the church and the salvation of the world depends on it.


Jealous Husbands Don’t Scare Me

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There is one reason why I am not concerned about a jealous husband coming after me: I have not been doing things that I shouldn’t be doing. I have not cheated with someone else’s wife nor have I cheated on my wife.  Please don’t take this as bragging and I know better than to get prideful; but there is a deep sense of comfort that comes from knowing that my conscience is clear.  I remember hearing my pastor talk about this topic when I was a kid and I didn’t really understand. He spoke of the freedom of walking down the street with confidence, knowing that no one was gunning for him because he’d been messing around – because he HADN’T been messing around! I understand now and I treasure the fact that God has taught me the value of relationship integrity.

I know too many guys who have been guilty of adultery and I also know many who have been victimized by it. While Hollywood normalizes these activities, the results in real life are always devastating; lives are being destroyed.

Let’s pray for men in general and husbands specifically. Pray for purity and fidelity among us. Pray that we older guys can model for younger guys what it means to be a man of purity. Pray that young men in America will not believe the lies being pushed by our culture that say manhood is determined by sexual activity. Pray for fewer reasons for crimes of passion. Let’s ask God for forgiveness of our sins and that He will help us to overcome our temptations and make us more like Christ.

I Corinthians 16:13 in various translations…

KJV: Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

MSG: Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute.

Douay-Rhelms: Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, do manfully, and be strengthened. (I love that: “do manfully”!)

Whitter: Keep your guard up, dig deep in Christ, don’t be a weakling, win the war!


kids go farther than their parents

I was witness to a great event today as a young girl began a ministry with the full support of her mother. Her mom has been in vocational ministry for many years – and this girl is only nine years old.  She feels called to help orphans around the world.  A couple of heroes, both mom and daughter.

Here is what I think: In many cases, kids do what their parents do, but they take it further. This can work for us or against is. Allow me to explain.

Whatever parents do in moderation, will be done in excess by their children. Parents who drink a little too much will possibly have kids that become alcoholics. Parents who model sharing in front of their kids have a good chance of raising generous kids. This is not a law and there are obvious exceptions, but I stand by my theory.

This is a very positive thing for us. Our daughter, Jessica was raised watching my wife and I do ministry. Now she does ministry way beyond anything we have ever experienced. And I want her to soar light years beyond where I am.

I felt inspired to tell the mother/daughter team this morning that the seeds planted by mom will come to fruition with the daughter. With absolutely no disrespect to the mom, I fully believe that the daughter will take it further.

You parents, what does that say to you?