Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Heart of a Mentor

A mentor is focused on seeing others succeed, rather than using others to accomplish something that makes them successful.  This is the heart of a mentor and also of a servant leader.  A mentor develops the person they are mentoring by letting them discover truths for themselves, guiding them and assisting them on that journey of discovery.  Why bother asking questions when you can just tell them what to do?  After all, you are more experienced and you have good answers to give them!

To give them the answers keeps them dependent upon you to solve their problems.  If instead, through wisely asking questions, offering options, and helping them to think about what they can and want to do to solve their problem, you are developing powerful people who will powerfully make decisions to change their own lives and the community they are a part of. 

It can be challenging to keep this perspective and behavior in place, especially when your mentee expects you to give them answers!  But the heart of a mentor is not to help them in the short term and feel good about themselves, the mentor seeks to develop and empower the mentee for the long term.

Jesus had that heart.  It never ceases to amaze me that he said to his disciples that they would do greater works than He did.  He very often didn't give answers, but instead told stories and said "those who have ears to hear, let them hear."  He expected initiative on the part of his disciples and followers.  He wanted them to exercise their minds and spirits to discern truth for themselves. He was developing them for the future- believing in them, that they could be leaders of leaders for His Kingdom.   

Do you get greater joy when you see others you have invested in succeed, or when you succeed?  A mentor, like a Father, delights when their mentee goes beyond them in capacity, influence and success.  We rejoice when our children surpass us; when they get better jobs than we had, when they earn bigger salaries, or when they get promotions at a younger age than we ever did.  Why?  Because we love them and want the very best for them.  We want them to go further and climb up on top of our shoulders to reach greater heights. 

This is what we need in the Christian world.  Mentors who are fathers and mothers in heart. We don't need more bosses and supervisors, those who use people to achieve success and discard them when they fail or when their success threatens to outshine their own.  Pride gets in the way of effective mentoring.  Love makes a way for it.  Love them.  Encourage them.  Stand with them.  Speak truth with grace.  Cheer for their successes.  Affirm them.  Praise them.  Correct them with gentleness and patience.  You'll have the tremendous joy of watching many whom you have mentored go far in the Kingdom, building upon the foundations you've laid, and rising to places in God that you only dreamed of.   

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