Fall 2013 marks the seventh year I have joined others in my local church to begin one of the VantagePoint3 processes. As a facilitator, or a participant, each year the emphasis on mentoring another person seems to send shivers of emotion, often hesitation, around the room.
Most adults have a hard time imagining that he or she can be a mentor to someone else. Yet, when asked, most adults would like to have someone investing, listening, praying, and asking questions of them and their lives.
Last year in a VP3 group, the facilitator asked the twelve how many were mentoring another individual right now. About four hands went up. She then asked, “How many of you have a mentor that you meet with regularly?” About four hands went up.
Then she asked, “How many of you would like to have a mentor yourself?” All twelve hands went up. We all crave the investment of another in our lives, seeing things that we cannot see ourselves and helping us navigate the life of faith.
But why is it that adults, even seasoned ministry leaders, hesitate to themselves walk alongside others in this life of faith?
Let me share with you two reasons why we hesitate to mentor, accompanied by two pieces of encouragement for saying “yes” to mentoring. We likely hesitate to mentor, or walk alongside another, because we place too high an expectation on what is supposed to happen, or be produced through the time together. And secondly, we hesitate because of the cost to our calendar… our time.
Joyce Rupp, in her book, Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons from the Camino (Orbis Books, 2005) helped me to put a finger on the deeper joys I have experienced in my time walking alongside others as a mentor and spiritual friend.
1) It is in the walking, versus the destination, that the purpose for mentoring lies. As a mentor, you are not responsible to get the other person to a certain place in a specified period of time. You are not “producing” something. Rather, the goodness of what you have to offer a friend is in the showing up and listening. My dog Jake is just beside me when we walk. He offers a companionship and presence that I can trust. His communication is limited, but when he shares, it feels good. As mentors, we could take a few cues from this.
2) The path of life is full of ups and downs. Daily life could be better appreciated for the pilgrimage and adventure it truly is. Slowing down, taking the foot off the productivity pedal, invites clarity of thought and purpose as well as refreshing rest and renewal. When we slow down and stop being so intense we can enjoy our lives more versus the constant push to get something done. When we come alongside another, over a cup of coffee, or in a shared walk, combined with intentional conversation, we join with God as well. And in this good company we will find refreshing rest (Romans 15:32). We may be surprised to find that “add” to our calendar was actually an investment in our spiritual growth. Another counter-intuitive way the Lord is at work in our lives.
Walking Alongside Others: A Mentoring Guide is a valuable resource available to assist anyone interested in being a companion to another in their life of faith with Jesus. This practical booklet walks you through the basics of being a mentor yourself and de-mystifies this centuries old practice of spiritual encouragement and friendship. It is available to purchase in our online store.