You have to be an example before you can inspire, mobilize, motivate, and equip effectively. It’s always great to have talented and intelligent mentees. But, you will not attract these potential high level leaders unless your life exemplifies what they dream about and want to become.
Mentoring requires a transparent lifestyle. A transparent lifestyle is open to examination and welcomes people to be involved. This does not mean a lack of privacy, but does mean an attitude of hospitality, honesty, and openness regarding all aspects of life. This is not just in the work life, but also in family and leisure lives. Mentoring is a lifestyle, not a job.
We all operate in three spheres – family (which includes friends who are like family), work, and other (which includes leisure, community, and friends who are not as close as family). In the mentoring relationship, mentees should move from one sphere to the other until they are a part of the family sphere. They need to be able to see you in all three spheres of life. And conversely, you need to be able to see them in all three spheres. In Christian mentoring, it is essential that mentors and mentees have clear visibility into all aspects of each other’s lives. Mentors must be examples in all areas of life, and mentees need these examples in order to develop into mature leaders. Mentors must be able to see the current situation and the progress related to all areas of life in order to truly be a mentor.
How people define success is often the first step in developing a mentoring relationship. People are inspired by some aspect of our lives. My personal definition of success is “producing reproducing leaders”. But I have never had anyone come to me and say they would like for me to mentor them because I develop reproducing leaders. They approach me based on their definition of success, which may be about ministry success, numbers of churches started, diversity of churches started, combining business and church planting, number of countries in which I have catalyzed churches, business success, family success, marriage success, speaking ability, writing ability, perceived wisdom, and more.
Another way we inspire is by casting a vision that captures a person’s imagination, and helps him or her to redirect his or her life to help cause the vision become reality. Helping people envision something they have never considered often is a life changing event. Thinking new thoughts and dreaming new dreams are powerful inspiration for many.
We can never really know why people first approach us, but it is important that we manage these early days of potential relationship. When our lives and/or visions inspire, we then have the opportunity to mobilize. Mobilizing is the process of helping people to choose to change not only thoughts, but actions. Often, the first step to change involves becoming dissatisfied with the status quo (continuing to do the same things and getting the same results).
The change process is not easy. New ideas, new paradigms, new processes, new relationships, and more can be very unsettling. At this point in the relationship motivation will be required to keep the process moving. Listening, encouraging, vision casting, correcting, and equipping are integral parts of motivation. Of course, the biggest motivator is success. When people begin to see success they become much more excited and motivated to continue the process.
I know the mentoring relationship is going well when the mentee begins to equip other leaders. He or she becomes a mentor to as many people as his or her capacity allows. We learn more and more deeply when we engage in equipping others. When you see your mentees begin to inspire others, mobilize others, motivate others, and those they mentor begin to equip and mentor others, you know you have found success.
Invest in others and you will see a great return on your investment. You will see churches planted and Church Planting Movements (CPM) established.
Blessings!David Watson Irving, Texas