3 reasons you need a mentor


     So you make new mistakes. 
We do some of our best growing and learning from failure. Although none of us would ever seek it, we recognise that it is one of our greatest teachers. That being said, someone else’s failure is far less painful for you and yet the benefit can be just as great.

A mentor who is willing to expose their own mistakes and short falls and who has done the work of processing where things went wrong gives you the chance to get all the upsides of failure without the personal consequence.

It is the height of foolishness to repeat the avoidable mistakes of others and yet it happens often because we don’t lean into the wisdom and experience of others who’ve been there and done that.

     So you don’t walk alone. 

Whether a leader in business or ministry, a parent, a student, a full time worker – we are all prone to feeling isolated in our roles. We can fall to the belief that we are the only one doing or experiencing what we are doing or experiencing and bare an unnecessary weight in that.

When we reach out to mentors we ensure that we are not left to those feelings very long – if at all. The investment of encouragement and support from a relationship that is articulated and reliable gives us a sense of partnership that sustains and empowers us.

     So you give yourself every chance of success.

A well chosen mentor is a source of great wisdom and insight. Because of their own experience, qualification or status in their specific field they are situated to give great advice and direction. You tap into a breadth of knowledge and awareness that is well beyond your own abilities thus building your capacity at a rate you couldn’t achieve alone.
In a relationship of trust, correction and redirection can happen. Guidance can be given. Problems can be solved. Difficult conversations can be prepared for. Courage to do the hard things can be fortified.

What would you add from your own experience? What are the benefits you’ve reaped from a mentoring relationship?

Next in series 

/3 things to look for in a mentor
// 3 reasons you should be a mentor

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3 things to look for in a mentor

Everyone should have a mentor (read here – 3 reasons you need a mentor) but sometimes it’s hard to know exactly who you are looking for. Here are three characteristics I believe are worth considering.

Find someone who is successfully doing something you want to do successfully. 

Be it in business, parenting, leading, discipline, advocacy, finances, study, fitness or relationships – whatever you are hoping to grow in, develop or attain – your mentor should be demonstrating elements of that competency. They should be further down the path than you. They should have the wisdom to be able to assess and articulate how they came to be successful – a person who can’t describe what they did to bring them to their current stage of life, work, serving or character will not be able to teach or lead you to a similar destination.

Find someone who allows you close. 

A good mentor will let you understand something of their life – of the path they’ve walked and the context in which they’ve developed their character, beliefs and skills. Beyond what they might teach you from their learning and wisdom, a great mentor will allow the story of their life to bring application and a shared sense of journeying.

There should also be a degree to which the vulnerability you express to a mentor is honoured with their own vulnerability. The safety of such an environment will allow the relationship (and you) to flourish.

Realise you might need more than one someone. 
Because your life is diverse and you are likely to be engaged across a number of roles or circumstances it may be most beneficial to have more than one mentor rather than expect one person to meet all your needs. Across the journey I have had a variety of mentors – each leading and investing in me in particular areas. I have had mentors around communication and preaching, generations ministry, being a female in leadership and ministry, writing and publishing, leading at the next level, and those who are more invested in pastoral care of me.

Finding one person who can be all things to you might be unrealistic.

What would you add to this list? What have you found about your own efforts to have a mentor or as a mentor others?

in series 

// 3 reasons you need a mentor
// 3 reasons you should be a mentor

being who you needed 


When you think back to your younger years you can, no doubt, identify the people who were most influential in your life …and also the glaring absences of significant adult input in areas you perhaps needed them most. 

“Be the kind of person you needed when you were younger.”

This quote resonates with me as a way to frame our reflections to position us to be the best navigators we can be (you can read more about that here – navigating life’s rough water). As we consider what we EXPERIENCED and also what we LACKED we can be more dialled in to those things in the young people entrusted to our care – be they family, friends, students or members of our ministries. 

  • Someone to validate (and help me understand) my personality

I spent most of my teen and young adult life being criticised for my personality. You’re so loud! Why are you always so happy? Stand still! Stop being so dramatic and exaggerating. I came to accept that my personality was innately flawed. There was no one else like me so there must be something wrong with me. I oscillated through varying degrees of resignation and defensiveness. 

If I could speak to my younger self I would tell her that her Tigger-ness is a gift. That her capacity to see and bring joy and celebration is needed in this world. That her optimism and enthusiasm bring light and life to those around her. I would tell her that she can learn about time, place and volume in order to not inflict herself upon others in negative ways. I would tell her that others aren’t like her and she needs to understand them and help them understand her. 

  • Someone who asked questions about who I was hoping to become

Teenagers don’t have the capacity to see very far into the future. That’s not a criticism, it’s a natural function of their forming brain. Teens are not able to perceive consequences to choices, to see value in waiting for a better option or to understand how each decision they make is shaping the person they will become. 

If I could speak to my younger self  I would ask her to keep describing and refining the future she sees or hopes for. Who she wants to be – family, work, faith, reputation, character, relationships. So that she would have a filter to process decisions and reactions through. Does this lead you to who you want to be? Does this shape your character and your reputation in a positive way? She may not listen to me – but that wouldn’t stop me asking!

  • Someone who could help me understand myself. 

When I was 11 my Dad left our family and, of course, I felt the impact. Part of my response was to be quite needy of male attention and affection and so I fought really hard to get it. I joke (with embarrassment) that I could “flirt for Australia” such was my competency at eliciting the kind of response my heart was seeking from guys. 

If I could speak to my younger self I would tell her that she is enough on her own and that she will never find what her heart is really craving in the places she is looking. I would help her to not let the vulnerabilities of her heart lead her to bad choices and regret. 

  • Someone who identified and encouraged me into my gifts 

Growing up I was blessed to have people who released me to explore my giftings and passions. I was only 15 when I led worship for the first time in our church and younger than that when I was given responsibility for the babies and toddlers ministry. I was constantly affirmed for my natural capacity to engage with kids and given leadership roles at school. I was given scope to explore my sporting abilities and also those in musical arts. 

If I could speak to my younger self I would remind her how blessed she was to have those opportunities and keep encouraging her to maximise the chances to experiment and engage. I would mentor her more intentionally to learn and grow in her understanding of God’s hand on her life and His desire to use her for His Kingdom purposes. 

What about you? How do you reflect on the people you had or needed when you were younger? How might that shape the way you invest in younger people in your world?

how to fix your church 


When your children or youth are reluctant to go to church things can get hard. (Read more – against their will

If you’ve elevated and communicated the value of church attendance, negotiated and threatened your lips off and offered bribes of every incentive you can possibly imagine but are still struggling to get buy-in from your kids – there’s only one thing left to do. 

You need to fix your church

You know the old adage about not just identifying the problem but being part of the solution? Yeah, that. It’s time to roll your sleeves up and get involved in fixing your church. 

It may seem like a big challenge (depending on what your church dynamic is like) but it may take less than you think. Here are some low output-high impact first steps. 

  • Show up yourself

Passionate, genuine, supportive and committed people who show up regularly and consistently make every/any church better. Whether your attendance almost doubles the size of the congregation or fills one of 60 rows, every person who shows up contributes something vital to the dynamic of a gathering. 

It may seem a little arrogant to assert that your very presence could improve your church – but flip it over and consider what would happen if everyone thought their attendance didn’t matter and didn’t show up!

And as a side note – not surprisingly, your kids won’t be passionate about attending a place that you are not demonstrating a passion for. If your attendance is more about a week-by-week decision based on feelings and schedules rather than an anticipated fixture in your weekly rhythm you undermine the integrity of your desire to see your kids engage. 

  • Serve. 

There isn’t a church in the world with the budget to professionalise all aspects of church life. And even if finances allowed it, it would not reflect the church as Jesus declared it or as Paul and others advocated in the New Testament. 

Pretty much every service your church provides is possible because of the contributions of “someone” like you. “Someone” with skills, time, talents, heart and availability to serve one another – and the desire to see needs met, people connected, God encountered and disciples developed in a variety of ways for a diversity of people. 

The only way your family benefits from corporate worship, generational ministry, events, and shared faith experiences is because “someone” serves. “Someone” gives their Friday night or their Sunday morning over to teaching and leading – in music and word. The building is physically ready and you are welcomed because “someone” comes early to prepare for you. Small groups happen because “someone” opens their home. Morning tea is served because “someone” sets up the urn and packs away afterwards. 

Again, if everybody thought that they didn’t need to contribute you would show up to a very different kind of service, in a very different physical space and ultimately be paying for some very expensive psychiatry bills for your burnt out Senior Pastor! It’s not rocket science. You need to give something for the system to work. 

Side note – your child is much more likely to feel connected to a faith community when they experience a sense of ownership and purpose (true for you too). Serving is essential for fixing your church

  • Influence the influencers. 

All people thrive under the intentional investment, discipleship and encouragement of others. In any church environment there are going to be specific people who have influence over your child/ren. They may be positional influencers – those with the title of “leader” or “coordinator” in specific departments or ministries. They may be proximity influencers – those they’ll serve next to or find themselves spending time with. Or they’ll be influencers by personality – that cool young adult that everyone gravitates to or the super caring and connected person whose name your kids remember and repeat most often. 

If you want to spend your fixing energy wisely, direct it to the influencers. If, by your investment, care and counsel, you can help an influencer flourish you will be influencing your own kids through them. You will be making the church a better place for them (and others in kind) to connect to and thrive in. 

Invite your kids’ youth or kids ministry leaders for dinner or to birthday parties and basketball games. Host their groups in your home. Pray for them. Know them well so as to be able to assist them best. 

You can fix a lack of leadership or develop the competency and confidence of leaders by your intentional encouragement and support of those who God has appointed and who stand to impact your child’s sense of belonging in a faith community. 

***

Again, they’re simple steps but also essential. I am constantly surprised by the number of people who will speak of their disappointment in them or their families not finding a place of belonging, connection or support in a church community and they haven’t tried any of these fixing tips. They’re certainly no guarantee that your child will grow to love God and church – but their absence has a far greater likelihood of assuring the opposite.