“Have you ever really had a teacher? One who saw you as a raw but precious thing, a jewel that, with wisdom, could be polished to a proud shine? If you are lucky enough to find your way to such teachers, you will always find your way back. Sometimes it is only in your head.”
– Mitch Albiom “Tuesdays with Morrie”
I think that is the essence of mentoring. Believing in someone as they learn to believe in themselves. Drenching them in Christian love even though they are rough around the edges, sometimes as destructive as a bull in a China shop. And through it all leaving an impact that, as cheesy as it may sound, truly does last a lifetime.
I’ve been blessed to have a few such teachers…or mentors…in my life. The kind I find my way back to in my head…and sometimes on a phone call. And every time I do I’m reminded that with the gift of being mentored…being taught, comes the responsibility to mentor…to teach.
Who are you teaching today?
Mentoring seems to be the topic of a lot of conversations I’ve had recently. So, I thought I’d do a throwback to a post I wrote about one of my great mentors…check it out here.
I’ve lost count of how many articles I’ve scanned, blogs posts I’ve read, & conversations I’ve had centered on the topic of prolonged adolescence. 20 & 30 somethings don’t often get a good rap. Society thinks they’re stuck in college or even high school. Refusing to grow up. Wandering without direction. Relying on their parents for far too long. The list goes on. And we seem to be the hardest on men.
I’m not denying that there’s some truth in that. But I don’t think it’s limited to men or 20 & 30 somethings. And I think at some point we all have to take a bit of the responsibility for the problem.
I look at men & yes, I see a generation…multiple generations…that are falling short as leaders. Men who seem to have momentarily misplaced their true identities. 30 somethings without careers. Families falling apart, sacrificed on the altar of ministry. Responsibility put on hold to chase seemingly crazy & selfish dreams.
I get all of that. And I’m not trying to say that it’s okay.
But there is another part of me that is full of nothing but compassion for my brothers. A part of me that looks & says at a certain point I can’t blame the 20 & 30 somethings entirely because it’s a generational issue. As a result they often lack mentors to help guide them. They don’t have people who can say “I’ve been there. I get the struggle. And I’ll love you in the struggle but care too much to let you stay there.”
I think buried underneath it all is oftentimes an identity issue. It’s something that we all struggle with at the core of our human nature. A battle that seems to only be made tougher by the pressures of our society and the pervading notion that what you do, not who you are, gives you worth.
I see multiple generations of men who are struggling to discover & live their true identities. And honestly it makes me sad. My heart breaks for them because as their sister I want them to experience the joy in living in the freedom of Christ as the person He has designed them to be.
So to my brothers, as your sister in Christ I care about you. About your faith. About your dreams. About your (future) wives & families. My prayer for you is a community that offers a little more tough love & a little less judgement & criticism.
And as I said, ladies, I don’t think it’s limited to men.
What do you think? Am I letting men off the hook to easily?
“Yes, we need emerging leaders, but we also need emerged leaders who will work alongside them.”
–The Art of Curating Worship pg. 51
A “good” leader. That seems like such a relative term these days. Even the term leader is tossed around haphazardly most of the time. Everyone seems to have their own variation on a definition which, most of the time, has been tailored to fit their own personal needs.
But when I strip away the world’s definition of a leader…even the church’s definition of a leader…I’m left with Scripture’s definition of a leader.
And I think that is a leader who humbles himself. Before God and those he’s* leading.
One who is eager to train and equip others.
Who is willing to admit they don’t have all of the answers but is walking in obedience anyway.
One who holds decisions with open hands.
One who encourages and empowers.
One who hasn’t made himself a leader but whom others have called leader.
One who has been given authority, not one who is a self-proclaimed expert.
One who at the end of the day is always willing to surrender to the whispers of the Spirit because he recognizes that he is just a steward, that he doesn’t own any of what he’s been entrusted with.
I like the quote above because an emerged leader who will work alongside emerging leaders exemplifies a humble leader. He is encouraging and empowering. He has been called leader and given authority. He is humbly walking in obedience while training and equipping others. I’m not sure what “style” label I would put on that type of leadership…but maybe that’s part of the point.
What is the best style of leadership you know?
This is the fourth post in a series of twenty. For more on the background, check out this post.
*Note: The use of the word “he” doesn’t mean I think leaders should only be men, it’s purely for simplicity of words & message. :)
When I re-read this post, I laughed…almost out loud. This is the first paragraph…
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying before: “Man is not an island.”
Well, let me tell you, I’ve tried, for much of my life, to prove that wrong. I am by nature an introvert. Most of the time I am much happier being by myself. While I enjoy people around people at times it takes a lot of energy out of me and after a few hours I’m usually exhausted. I love extroverts, I admire their ability to interact with people all of the time and not get tired, but that’s just not me.
I laughed because of how much I’ve changed since I wrote that a year and a half ago. I have become much more of an extrovert than I would have ever imagined possible. I think that at my deepest core I am still an introvert. But, I am definitely an extroverted introvert. I don’t get nearly as drained from being around people as I used to and in fact these days if I go too long without human interaction it drives me crazy.
And these days I’m more deeply grateful than ever for the people in my life who…
help me see and understand things about myself I can’t see for myself
hold me accountable
remind me who I am, what I believe, and what I’m all about
bring me back down to earth when I’m flying too high
help me up when I’m in the valleys
know just the right thing to say, just the right thing to do
help life make sense when it gets cloudy.
You can check out the rest of the post here.
And if you don’t have at least one person in your life like that…find one! Community is great and not to be undervalued, but one on one relationships where you get to know another human being deeply and be known deeply is something I think we’ve forgotten the value of…or maybe we run from because it can be messy, scary, and uncomfortable…or maybe we just don’t make time for it.
Here in America we live in a culture that gets offended when you ask about it…age. Personally, it’s the tone with which people ask the question that gets me. More often than not, when people first meet me they assume I’m younger than I am (and then they tell me that one day I’ll wish that was the case). Apparently I look young. I’m okay with that. What I’m not okay with is people looking down on me because of my age. I find this to be the case often in the church. Why that’s the case I haven’t yet been able to figure out. But, it’s not anything new either.
Yes, I am (by comparison) young. I have a lot to learn. Sometimes my passion needs to be reigned in a little bit. I am still at times naive. Sometimes I’m overeager. My passion and excitement can cause me to be judgmental. Bottom line: I make mistakes…a lot of them.
But, I’m also a loved and uniquely gifted child of God. And I respect the older generation. I respect their wisdom and knowledge. I admire their leadership. I can learn more from them than I’d ever imagine. And I crave mentors from among them.
Many churches today have become divided by age, by generation. And we are all to blame for that. In doing so I think we’re losing out on some extremely valuable relationships. We’re losing opportunities for cross generational mentoring and learning. Whether 15, 25, 35, 65 or anywhere in between, we’re all a piece of the puzzle. God has given us all unique gifts to be used for His kingdom. And the truth is that none of us can do it on our own. In fact, more often than not I think God can use us to accomplish the most for Him when we work together.
It’s a beautiful thing when we can forget about age and open ourselves up to relationships that can make a lasting impact on our lives and the Kingdom. It’s a lesson I’m learning…not using age as a defining fact in what relationships should or should not look like.