3 reasons you should be a mentor

Being a mentor is one of the more privileged, rewarding, and challenging things you can do! If you’re not one, here’s a few reasons I think you should consider it.

Because it’s not all about you! 

Whatever you know, have or experience is not just about or for you. It never is. Everything that you learn in your life, the skills you possess, the talents you develop, the capacity you have is never about you learning, possessing, or developing so much as it is about the IMPACT those acquisitions can have on the world around you.

To be a mentor is to realise that you have something to give. And you do!

Being a mentor is an acknowledgement that the wisdom you’ve acquired over the years is most wisely applied in the developing of other people’s wisdom! Even if you’ve earned it through a series of terrible decisions and catastrophic failures, your wisdom can be of benefit to those who are coming behind you. Even if you don’t think you’re particularly wise, you’re probably wiser than someone … in something … and it is upon us all to see that we don’t just hoard and protect what we know but that we use it in service of others.

Because it has redemptive power.

Your most disastrous mistake. Your most embarrassing failure. Your deepest wounding. Your greatest regret. These can all find a sense of redemption when allowed to be used to protect, prepare or comfort others.

Whether your story becomes one of warning and caution, one of inspiration and conviction or one of empathy and understanding … there will be something for others to glean from it and so it needs to be shared. And although it doesn’t erase the consequences, pain, guilt or regret it ensures that those feelings aren’t wasted. It brings something of purpose and usefulness out of experiences that would otherwise seem so wasteful and hopeless.

Would I rather not have experienced a broken marriage, grief, or failure? Absolutely! But if it’s happened, would I rather see the learning and the sharing bring life, hope, and wisdom to others? You bet!

Because you know it’s hard to ‘go it alone’.

You may never have had a mentor. You may have constantly craved that intentional investment and support or you might not even realised you were missing it. But I think we can all acknowledge that sometimes life is difficult and often times we are left to navigate life on our own.

New parents, young entrepreneurs, students, newly weds, first time home owners, emerging artists, writers and communicators can all feel like they’re stumbling in the dark – trying to work out how to conduct themselves in an industry or lifestage where everyone else seems to know what they’re doing but them. It can be intensely isolating.

You remember that. You can be part of breaking that pattern for those who are coming after you.

So, what do you think? Who could you be mentoring? What environments could you connect into where your wisdom and experience can be beneficially shared? What relationships could you be fostering to bring some of these mentoring outcomes to the fore?

(And just a little something for nothing … the reality is that you ARE leading, modelling and influencing whether you choose to or not. People are watching you and imitating you. A little more intentionality could help ensure that influence is positive and helpful.)

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

navigating life’s rough water


Have you ever been whitewater rafting? Its a high adrenalin activity where you jump in an inflatable raft and hurtle down a river. The whitewater or rough patches of water come where high current waters hit rocks, obstacles and banks and, when combined with significant drops, they make navigation quite difficult. It’s considered an extreme sport. 
When you make the decision to pay someone to let you risk your life in this fashion, you are given a guide or a navigator. He or she gives you the basic instructions and lets you know the directions they’ll be shouting at you as they try and get you to the end of the river run in one piece. 

A friend and I had this experience in New Zealand a few years back. The water was freezing and the terror real in amongst the patches of smooth water where we floated merrily along and were able to take in the stunning views and peaceful surrounds. 

I think in life as in whitewater rafting the role of navigator or guide is crucial. But I think in life, we are much less attuned to our need to have one or be one – in whitewater rafting there’s a sense your life depends on the guide – you’re listening and responsive!

Parents, mentors, teachers, leaders and anyone older or more experienced than ourselves can be as life impacting as a navigator guiding us down a dangerous river. 

“Up ahead there is a sharp drop and then the current will want to pull us left … When you hear me call it, we’re going to want all of us at the back of the raft and then we’re going to be ready to paddle out.” The navigator has been down this river before. The navigator has tried or seen different ways to handle this potential danger spot and has some tips on how to get through it most safely. The navigator knows and embraces their role to keep all participants safe while also letting them have an exciting adventure. 

There is nothing that we encounter on the ‘river’ of life that others haven’t seen or experienced before us. What a tragedy it is as adults to watch young people fall into the same traps, be surprised by the same big drops or to be so furiously paddling through smooth waters they don’t take time to enjoy them. 

We need to embrace our role as navigators for anyone who would come behind us. Yes, there is a need for people to sometimes learn through experience of failure or error but to let others fly head long into what we know to be dangerous or damaging without at least giving a shout out is neglectful and, well, mean. 

We need to nurture relationships that position us to be influential voices in another’s life. I feel like my greatest success in this area has come through honest sharing of my failures and wounding. I once had a young person say of a particular part of their journey that was similar to mine “I just want to make sure I don’t do what you did” – it stung a little, but ultimately? I don’t want them to do what I did either. 

We need to invite the navigator to speak into our lives and circumstances. We need to embrace with humility the learning and wisdom others can impart from their journey.

 

5 things every kid needs || uncommon sense


#4 uncommon sense

When we were growing up we were always that family. You know – that family who went to church, that family that didn’t watch certain videos or TV shows, that family who weren’t allowed to go to certain parties or events – that family. 

There were times when being part of that family was embarrassing. Those awkward moments of needing to explain to our friends how our ‘totally mean’ parents were not letting us do, buy or see something that made us different from our peers. But, ultimately, the consistency of the decisions our parents made and the reasoning they gave us to understand something of the values those choices represented, didn’t cause our social death as we feared they might! In fact, they were part of establishing our character and gave us a strong sense of confidence in boundaries well defined and maintained.

There is a degree to which a choice to live by God’s big picture plan for our lives and to walk in His ways will see us looking different than those living by another standard. There are times when using a God-lens to look at a decision or a choice of opportunities will cause us to form a different conclusion to those who view life through a different lens.

To grow and establish themselves in faith, our children need uncommon sense that will help them make wise choices. They need a sense of God’s perfect and amazing plans for their lives that empowers them to say ‘no’ to behaviours and attitudes that would take them down a different path. They need to be inspired by His love for them and His promises towards them in ways that cause them to process and translate life through HIS eyes – drawing them to wisdom.

We are often tempted to condense the Biblical narrative and the gospel down to a behavioural code to live by – particularly as it relates to young people. We teach obedience and sharing, apologising and forgiving, generosity and listening as the ‘moral’ to a Biblical story when the bigger picture is one of a completely new way to think, respond and act. God’s love in us calls us to see others and ourselves in a different light. His activity in our hearts ought to draw us to consider our actions and decisions as HE would consider them. More than ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ – why would He do that? What would motivate Him to turn the other cheek? What would cause Him to give so generously and unreservedly of Himself?

Where have you found that ‘uncommon sense’ needed in the lives of your kids? How have you gone about teaching them the values and ‘why’ of our motivation to make wise, God-honouring choices? 

5 Things Every Kid Needs || Think Orange

#1 a really BIG God

#2 someone else

#3 another voice

#4 uncommon sense

#5 nosy parents

 

The Warning Light of Jealousy #4

King Solomon (who history acknowledges as the wisest man to have lived) made this observation.

“I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Eccl 4:4

He looks around him and sees that everyone’s work and everything they’re trying to achieve is motivated by their jealousy over what everyone else is doing or what they have achieved. And he says, it’s dumb! It’s meaningless! Continue reading

AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU – #3 Grow in Understanding

I spend a lot of time thinking, reading, learning and writing about relationships because I find that most of my own personal challenges manifest themselves in that space but also the majority of the kinds of things I find myself talking to others about come back to the area of relationships too. Whether I’m speaking to children or parents about family conflict or frustration or people who are struggling to connect well with others in their ministry teams or people having difficulties at work or school – I find myself constantly needing to process with people a greater understanding about themselves and then about others.

Prov 4:7 Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you get, get understanding.

Other translations say, “though it cost all you have, get understanding/insight”.

I can’t even number the times I’ve made bad calls or responded inappropriately because I haven’t fully understood where another person is coming from – what their motives or intent are, what information they did or didn’t have, what other factors are influencing their behaviour or choices. I, like you I suspect, can be quick to assess and quick to judge because I automatically think that they know everything I know – in which case, there’s no excuse for their behaviour. It happens too often – hopefully less often – but too often.

Likewise, I could write pages about the number of times I’ve been misunderstood and judged accordingly – and critically. Whether a motive of mine has been questioned or I was saying something in jest and it was taken seriously or someone thought I did something that I didn’t … and then I’ve had to receive the hurtful rejection or criticism … and it’s hard!

Relationships take a beating when people don’t take the time to understand or have the grace to give others a chance to explain.

“Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.” Never let your decisions – particularly of the negative kind – be made on the basis of presumptions and assumptions. Do whatever it takes to understand fully so any response or reaction is based on truth.

  • START at “I don’t understand” – don’t finish there!

When you come to that place in an interaction that you exclaim (or even just think) “I just don’t understand you!” you have arrived at a great place to START to really work on that relationship. When we acknowledge that we don’t understand we are best positioned to clarify misunderstanding and misalignments. “I don’t understand” is the gateway to “help me understand” which is the key to unlocking all sorts of wonderfully healthy things needed for your relationships to flourish.

  • Choose to fill the “gap” with TRUST.

At our Kids Min Team Retreat I made a commitment to my team that I would always seek to fill the gap of understanding with trust. That when I don’t know why they did or didn’t do something, or when I hear something about what they’ve said or done, or there’s a chance for disappointment in an unfulfilled expectation … I would presume the best until I knew otherwise. I committed to trust that whatever I didn’t know or understand would be enough to have me not need to react … so I will wait.

It’s really hard to do – but it’s really worth it. It can save us a whole lot of unnecessary hurt and set us up in the right position to move forward in our relationships.

As far as it depends on you … how much energy do you invest into understanding others? What would it look like if you were to let “I don’t understand” be the starting point for relational interactions? How might things change if you were to fill any gaps in your understanding with trustinstead of suspicion, doubt or judgement?

#1 As Far as it Depends on You (read now)
#2 Grow in God’s Love (read now)
#3 Grow in Understanding
#4 Grow in Forgiveness (read now)
#5 Grow in Humility (read now)
#6 Grow in Persistence (read now)

How far can I go?

When it comes to the topics of “Sexuality and Relationships” and youth and young adults the two most frequently asked questions are “How will I find ‘the one’?” (refer last week’s post on making decisions) and the big one “How far can I go?”

How far can I go? It seems like a pretty reasonable question. “Where is the boundary? Where is the line that I shouldn’t cross? Tell me what I can and can’t do – define it for me and then I can manage my behaviour accordingly.” Continue reading

Understanding Others – #1

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this before, but everyone else is not like you! Have you caught that? Bizarre but true! People think differently, they respond differently, they behave differently … they value different things, make different decisions, choose different life paths.

Those differences confront us at every turn – in the little and the big. When planning a meal for a family with a wide range of food preferences, sitting on a train and observing people’s sense of socially acceptable behaviour or trying to resolve a conflict with a friend or spouse.

In Proverbs 4:7 it says “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it costs you all you have, get understanding.”

If you are interested in improving your relationships, in reducing your frustration levels, in experiencing greater peace in your daily life (and who isn’t?) you might want to consider these words of Solomon more closely.

There is incredible power – to heal, to calm, to enable, to free – in the simple (but not easy) process of understanding others. There are few things more able to defuse anger, disappointment, wounding or annoyance than a healthy dose of understanding. Anything that can help you to perceive and receive things through another’s lens, anything that provides greater context for what you are witnessing or experiencing, anything that positions you in a place of empathy and assistance (rather than opposition and resistance) can only be beneficial.

I’m a great proponent of personality theory. The idea of doing some thinking and exploring (reading, talking and listening) around the areas of temperament and nature that can help us first to understand ourselves … then to understand others … then to understand why others don’t understand us … and then to help others understand why others don’t understand them … etc.

There are a million and one diagnostic tools available to help in this area. One of the simplest and most readily applicable I know of is “Personality Plus” by Christian author Florence Littauer (clickhere for more information). Over the next few blog posts we’ll use her framework to give us some insight into understanding ourselves and others more.

Please hear my heart in this.

Solomon advises that wisdom is supreme and understanding is worth any price we need to pay for it.

In my own life, coming to understand myself more through this kind of lens was nothing short of transformational – it freed me to celebrate how God had uniquely wired me while being more empathetic to how others received me. It changed ALL of my relationships, it impacted my work life, it grew me in wisdom and my ability to relate to, encourage and lead others. (All of these things are definitely still a work in progress!)

Let’s see if we can’t move a little further along in our journey towards understanding others.

More in this series
Understanding Others #2
Understanding Others #3
Understanding Others #4