Last weekend I had the chance to speak to a group of women in leadership at an E. Free Church here in the cities. We had everyone from the 79 year old woman who has been serving her entire life, and still has more fire in her than some of my own peers, to the 27 year old who recently took on a position of leadership for the first time. The only similarities among them were that they all loved Jesus and they all had a heart to serve the women around them.
I was invited to come and talk to them about mentoring. To be honest, I didn’t really know what I could tell these women that they didn’t already know. When I first arrived, I asked the leader of the event how old the youngest attender was. Come to find out, I was the youngest one there! I really was the odd one out when it came to life experience and history in ministry. But truth is truth regardless of how old the voice, right? Whatever else, I wanted these women to feel encouraged and leave with a renewed perspective of why they do what they do.
The biggest thing we discussed was what redefining our idea of mentoring. Most people have a top-down model in their heads. A person seeking mentoring has little experience and wants to become a better person, so they seek out a mentor who is older, wiser, and has time to focus on them and their issues. This idea is rather rigid and really self-centered, if you think about it. Visually, this looks like two people sitting across from one another at a coffee shop having a conversation about life. This is not a bad thing, but mentoring is about so much more than just coffee and conversation.
The alternative is a constellation of mentors (stealing vocabulary from Cadre Ministries…thanks guys!), where I am being poured into by mentors but I am also pouring into the lives of others around me (peers) and following me (disciples). In order to pour into someone’s life (or put more accurately, to overflow into someone’s life) we must be a part of their life. Not just sitting at coffee shops, but working, serving, playing together. This is so much more how Jesus did it–he took his disciples everywhere! They watched him lead, teach, care, and rebuke. Then he sent them out to try it themselves.
If every believer was overflowing what the Lord was doing in their life, truly sharing life, with those around them, the kingdom of hell would have a lot more to fear.
Whenever I hear “constellation” I think of Daniel 12:3 which, speaking of the last days when the dead will rise, says, “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” The light of millions of stars could shine Jesus into the darkest crevices of people’s hearts.
Mentoring is not for the purpose of making individual people stronger, smarter, or feel better about themselves. It is about building them up to build up the Kingdom of God. The Church is not a school, or a philosophical idea in which we help students iron out the rough spots in their thinking; it is a place where we ought to be equipping warriors with the weapons they need for the battle! This spiritual life is a battle, and not one of us can fight it alone. We need as many warriors as there are stars in the universe!
Whenever I start to wonder if this is all worth it–all the time put into an individual who walks away, all the energy put into developing a group that ends up turning on you–I remember that this is what Christ has called us for and has promised to be with us to the end. “Go and Make Disciples.” Until He returns I can do no less.
Women’s Mobilizer, ACC