To start the year, we have another guest post from Andrew Miller, who’s posted before. Be sure to check out his own blog.
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, but today is a gift. (That’s why it’s called the present.)”
A quote from one of my favorite animated movies is quite insightful.
So 2016 is history and you might say there are many things about 2017 that are a mystery (and I’m not even going to mention politics…)
There are some things that don’t have to be a mystery though. Like actually following through on resolutions for once… (I’m preaching to myself here…)
Have you made any resolutions? I’ve made a few but they’re pretty insignificant compared to my most important resolution: to invest more into my relationships this year.
I’m going to ask you the same question I asked myself: “Do you think you’ve invested enough into your relationships this past year?”
It can be a difficult question to ask and even more difficult to answer.
If your reply is, “yes I have!” that’s great! If you haven’t, there’s always room this year for improvement (hence why this year doesn’t have to be a mystery!)
No matter how you did LAST year, THIS year gives us 365 more days of opportunities to be encouraging one another.
So if you’re committed to investing in people this year but aren’t sure HOW you go about doing that, here are 6 pieces of advice that might serve you well this coming year.
1. Set the example.
Before you start investing in someone else’s life, you have to start with yourself. Make sure YOU are setting the example for what their life should look like. Are you living Christlike? Is your life a reflection of God’s grace to you? If your mentee’s life looked just like yours, would you be proud or encouraging them in their lifestyle?
The best mentoring comes not from the words you speak but from the way you live your life. We’ve all heard the phrase, “actions speak louder than words.” The more we hear that phrase doesn’t make it any less true.
Remember that the main idea of mentoring is “doing life together.” And that means doing life together in a God-glorifying way. And that starts with YOU.
2. Identify your mentoring opportunities.
The anxiety of finding the “right” mentee is sometimes discouraging. Not every younger person that comes along will be right for you. But there may be more mentoring opportunities out there than you think.
Start by looking around you. You don’t have to travel very far to find people around you that are in need of someone to just listen to them, to care about them. That could be at your work with one of your coworkers/employees or even at school with one of your peers or students.
However, one of the best places to start looking for people who are attempting to seek after God with all their heart is within the church. Look to your local church to find someone who would be willing to be encouraged with this mentorship. That’s one of the reasons the church exists, right? We are to be building each other up as brothers and sisters under the unity of Christ.
I also think there is a false stereotype that a “mentor” is a person of an older age. That’s usually the case due to the fact that people who have lived longer have more life experience and therefore can offer more “life advice.”
However, sometimes there exists a person who is younger that has more wisdom whether that be life wisdom or spiritual wisdom. This may happen when an individual becomes a Christian later in their life and starts seeking wisdom.
So don’t be afraid if you have a younger person giving you advice. And don’t be afraid if someone a little older than you seeks your opinion or guidance on something.
There is something we can always be learning from each other. So let’s start sharing.
3. Set aside time.
This is a type of relationship after all. Relationships take time. Sometimes they take more time than we expect or want them to, but they still take some amount of time and energy.
Sometimes developing these relationships and investing in them take sacrifice.
If you don’t know this secret about relationships, I’m giving it to you now…
Relationships. Take. Work.
No matter how you slice it, they require time and commitment. Whether it’s a friendship, romantic relationship, or mentorship, you will need to plan to spend some amount of time (on a regular basis) to develop the relationship.
It’s sometimes easy to forget this. We’re all pretty busy people doing fantastic things. We get busy, have other priorities, and just lose track of time.
Even when you’re busy, however, you should still be able to find time.
What’s the loose definition of mentoring? “Doing Life Together.”
One of the greatest mentors I’ve been told about was a pastor named Tom Craig. I unfortunately never had the opportunity to meet him, but it is easy to see the impact he made on the people around him. He was a busy man but he still found time to invest in people.
If he was on a trip to Home Depot, he would call up one of the teens in his youth group to see if they wanted to ride along. If he was out running errands, he would be developing relationships.
Everything he did was centered around serving, developing, and growing people. Everything.
How much of our life is centered around people?
4. Have a plan.
You don’t always have to have something in mind to say as you shouldn’t plan out EVERYTHING you’re going to discuss.
However, it would be helpful at times to have a general idea of what you’re going to be studying/doing/talking about.
If you have regular conversations-over-coffee, think about what you’ll talk about. Ask yourself, “what is this individual’s greatest need right now and how can I help them?”
It may require listening to them and understanding the challenges they are facing in their life to know how you can help them.
Or if you’d like to go through a book as well, have a couple books in mind and talk to them about it.
Whatever route you choose, make sure your plan’s end goal is to grow both of you closer to God.
We’ve heard the saying, “readers are leaders.” Not only does reading make you a better leader, but it gives you more to talk about.
Like I said in the last point, going through a book together would be VERY beneficial for both you and your mentor or mentee.
Might I suggest a book on relationships? (Relationships, a Mess Worth Making by Timothy S. Lane)
Or even a C.S. Lewis book? (The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity)
No matter what you choose, the book should be challenging your heart and your mind.
6. Be “THAT” guy/girl.
I saw a quote the other day that really captures much of what mentoring is.
Did you have someone in your life guide you to where you are now? Was there someone strengthening and encouraging you along the the way of life?
Maybe it’s time YOU give back.
Maybe it’s time for YOU to become that person in someone’s life.
Remember – it starts with you.