Five ways mentoring transforms my ministry
Throughout my experiences of leading and being responsible for my peers, young people, and children, one thing has remained invaluable: mentoring. Being mentored has transformed how I approach positions of leadership and ministry – and here’s why:
There’s someone there to listen.
We all need to be listened to, right? We all need that space where we can express what we’re thinking and feeling, and where we can begin to understand our emotions and responses. Particularly in intense times of leadership or pastoral responsibility, I have found a mentoring relationship to be a lifeline. A mentor is someone who, through listening, helps me to reflect on what I’m saying, thinking, and feeling, without judgment and with insight.
I am challenged.
Without challenge, there is rarely growth. I always find that my mentor asks the most unexpected, challenging questions. It is because of these questions that I find talking through different circumstances and issues (for example, a small-group pastoral situation, or a practical team issue) so incredibly fruitful. When I am challenged to look at situations from a different perspective, I find that there are new solutions and lessons to be learned that I never would have seen on my own.
I am encouraged.
In the midst of ministry, it can be easy to get discouraged or to focus on the problems to be solved rather than the progress to be celebrated. Mentors are amazing at getting me to see the positives in different situations, thus encouraging me to continue ministry with joy. Long-term mentors can also see the changes that have occurred in me over time, and are great at reminding me where I’ve come from and how much I’ve learned and grown!
I am held accountable.
It’s good, when talking about strengths, weaknesses, or challenges, to set goals by which to mark and achieve growth. A mentor can both help to set these goals, and can keep mentees accountable to working towards these goals. This practical approach to mentoring has been helpful to me by spurring me on to committing to new spiritual disciplines and approaches to ministry.
Some of the most fruitful, prophetic times of prayer that I’ve encountered have been with mentors. As you give yourself the space to reflect honestly, and as someone other than yourself has listened to what’s going on in your ministry, a space is opened up for honest prayer and listening. At the end of a mentoring session in which I was beginning to voice a call to pastoral ministry, my mentor prayed that God would show me Bible passages in which Jesus is revealed as a Pastor. In the following weeks and months, I began to see Jesus more and more as the Pastor who longed to tend and care for me, even as I pastored others. God speaks through mentoring, and it is a wonderful gift.
So, from a mentee’s perspective, mentoring relationships can be incredibly fruitful and strengthening. Whether you’re being mentored through a specific project or role, or just generally through life and ministry, expect to be challenged. Expect to be encouraged. And most of all, expect to hear God speak.