Do No Harm…

“It was so traumatic!”

The woman was describing to her mentor a situation in which she had ended up in a heated debate with several of her work colleagues.  Although the mentor could see that it had indeed been an upsetting, frustrating, and intense encounter for the client, she did find herself wondering about the use of the word ‘traumatic.’ Was this the mentoree’s actual experience, or just a bit of hyperbole?

The man sat trembling in front of his mentor.  That morning he had visited a member of his congregation in hospital, and had experienced an unexpected and overwhelming sense of  impending disaster. He found himself desperately wanting to get out of there as soon as he possibly could.  He couldn’t quite understand why his physical reaction had been so overwhelming – and why he still felt on high alert. After all, the congregation member was expected to make a full recovery. “I’m just over-reacting… it’s nothing really…”  The mentor wasn’t sure what to think – it certainly did seem like an over-reaction, but looking at the trembling man in front of him, he knew that something serious was going on.

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Going Deeper to Go Further – Keith Farmer

Dr Keith Farmer was a founding member of the ACMN, which began in September 2009 after a gathering of mentors at Stanwell Tops that Keith organised. Having been a pastor and a theological seminary principal, as well a registered clinical psychologist, Dr Keith Farmer has been mentoring Christian leaders in Australasia for many years. He recognises the pressure of ministry and life, and also the alarming risk of burnout, and has produced a valuable resource to speak into this area, a book called Going Deeper to Go Further. Keith will be launching his book and presenting at a seminar on Ministry Health next week in NSW (see here for more details).

Copies of Keith’s book are available here, and Rick Lewis (chair of ACMN) has written a book review:

Going Deeper to Go Further – by Keith Farmer

This is the book Christian leaders need right now. Pressures that have been building for decades have come to a peak in recent times, bringing many able leaders to the brink. This is a serious book, but also a deeply encouraging one as Keith Farmer presents a hopeful and well-informed vision of how Christian leaders can flourish even in times like these.

There’s a deep understanding of the dilemmas facing Christian leaders – from within themselves, from their cultural context, and from the organisational structures within which they work. As the book moves from insightful diagnosis to practical solution, Farmer presents solid theological foundations, a simple and specific methodology through mentoring and finally a well-rounded overview of the processes by which Christian leaders can ‘go deeper to go further.’ Testimonies from several leaders who have walked this path ground the ideas in practical examples. For me, the greatest strength of the book is the way Farmer maintains the perspective of Christian spirituality throughout, anchoring our hope in the love and grace of God.

Dr Rick Lewis
Author of Mentoring Matters
Founder of Anamcara Consulting

Using Written Exercises in Mentoring

Mentoring sessions typically consist of conversations conducted verbally, whether face to face, via video link or on the phone. This usually serves us well and, as mentors, we quite rightly put a lot of effort into improving our conversational skills in asking good questions, listening deeply to what is said and providing appropriate verbal feedback.

However, we can add another string to our bow if we develop our use of written exercises in mentoring. Written exercises can be carried out within the mentoring session itself or could be done in preparation for or as a follow-up to a mentoring conversation. What can written exercises add that can’t be achieved through verbal communication?

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Creating Emotionally Healthy Mentees

As we companion with people in the mentoring journey, it becomes vital that we guide people in all areas of their lives.

Previously we’ve considered the importance of our mentees having a healthy balanced life in their physical, social, financial, mental, spiritual and we began on their emotional lives.

Today, some key ingredients for creating emotional health in our mentees.

First, the problem. Many people have been suffering from trauma through restrictions, isolation, health and economic impact due to Covid. As we meet with people, now more than any other time, we need to be aware of their emotional needs. Emotional depletion leads to potential for burnout, distraction from ministry pathways, marriage and family disruption. It can affect all areas of our lives.

So, if that’s the problem, what’s the solution as mentors? Continue reading “Creating Emotionally Healthy Mentees”

Reflecting on Perspectives

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour.  The Sovereign Lord is my strength; (Habakkuk 3:17-19a)

I was reminded of this text recently by a friend who was clinging to God’s faithfulness in the midst of a really tough situation. And I had to think, what a classic example Habakkuk gives here of the importance of a right perspective. Not allowing the circumstances, as challenging as they were, dictate his outlook. Not denying the harsh reality immediately before him, nor allowing it to discredit the ultimate reality that he knew to be true – that God is good and faithful. And he allows this perspective to determine his actions – he chooses to rejoice.

We explored this theme of Perspectives for ACMN’s twelfth annual training webinar in early August this year. It was an online event due to ongoing Covid restrictions, and we had participants join us from all around Australia, and even a few international guests!  Our seven presenters were all members of the ACMN Committee, and they brought us a smorgasbord of ideas and insights.

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Ms Represented and the Fatherhood of God

Women, anger and the Fatherhood of God

Have you watched Ms Represented[1] on the ABC?  It’s a documentary series on the history of women in politics in Australia and I would highly recommend it to both men and women.  It made me rejoice as I thanked God for the people who fought hard so that I can vote.  It also made me furious at the misogyny that women in the house of representatives still live with.  You will be aware of the recent avalanche of stories about gendered sexual violence. Christian Porter, Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame are just a few of the names making headlines in this area as perpetrators are being called to account.  Yet there is another, related narrative, that it is men who are under attack.  The criticism of ‘toxic masculinity’ has been perceived in some circles as a judgement that all masculinity is toxic.  How do we speak about a God who reveals himself as Father through the Son when these masculine terms themselves are cause for suspicion by some? 

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Kurt Lewin’s Force Field Analysis

Kurt Lewin (1890-1947) is known as the father of social psychology. His thinking gave rise to so many processes we take for granted today such as action research, change process theory and sensitivity training. He coined the term ‘group dynamics’, did ground-breaking work in analysing organisational culture and gave us the psychological equation B = ƒ(P, E), meaning that human behaviour is a function of the person in their environment. That seems obvious now, but it took Lewin to make it clear.

Perhaps the most useful thing Lewin came up with for mentoring is his ‘Force Field Analysis’, a tool that I use all the time in mentoring sessions in an informal, unstructured way and occasionally as a formal exercise. The FFA provides a framework for identifying the factors that influence a situation:

    • factors that drive movement toward a goal – ‘helping forces’
    • factors that block movement toward a goal – ‘hindering forces’

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