Is mentoring a ministry, a vocation or a profession?
The short answer is, yes!
This question was raised in one of our recent member ‘check-ins’, and it’s a great question to consider. One look at the ACMN website gives a clear indication that mentoring happens across informal, formal and professional levels.
Following from Tim Dyer’s insightful blog last month, here are a few additional thoughts in brief, dot-point form, about what kind of qualities help mentorees get the most out of their mentoring partnerships.
By Tim with help from ACMN members on our April 2021 Member Networking Zoom
My training was largely around the concepts, skills, resources, and practices that would enable me to become an effective mentor. I was also being mentored and there was comparatively little reflection on what might enable me to be a ‘good’ mentoree.
This would all make good sense if 90% of the effectiveness of mentoring was wrapped up in the role of the mentor. However, after mentoring now for over 20 years, I am very aware that this is not the case. In the most productive relationships I have been involved in, both mentor and mentoree bring different but equally significant elements to the relationship. Mentoring becomes a genuine partnership in which both mentor and mentoree have complementary roles to play.
All of us need someone to walk alongside us. We need to be loved and to love. We need to understand and to be understood. Whether old or young, women or men, from Asia, Africa, Europe, US, Australia or NZ, wealthy or without earthly riches, follower of Jesus, Buddha, Islam or atheist, liberal, Pentecostal, progressive, conservative or evangelical, pastor, large, medium or small church, denominational leader or business leader, we all need mentors. I’ve seen this for over 20 years. I’ve had the privilege to walk alongside people with all these backgrounds. And I’ve seen 6 keys that are able to unlock and guide people’s journeys. When using these 6 keys to specific areas, mentoring people is transformative.
One thing we are never short of in today’s world is information. Yet although many of us suffer from information overload our appetite for more and more content seems insatiable. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of consuming endless information without it doing us any good.
Mentoring can contribute something tremendously valuable here. Conversations with a mentor are an opportunity to do a mental stocktake and ask questions like
What information, theories and ideas have we got in our heads?
Following are 10 components of resilience with development strategies for times of adversity like COVID-19.
What we are experiencing with COVID-19 and its implications for community life is not just higher stress, it is unusual adversity. This requires more than simply up-scaling normal self-care practices. Self-care is critical and remains needed, however in times of adversity a different capacity we refer to as resilience is required for the length of time the adversity impacts us.
COVID-19 is creating significant adversity in ministry and leadership. As I talk with pastors, there are 10 ways in which this impact is being felt.
Pastoral load is significantly increasing because of the pandemic Many church members are anxious and stressed. They are isolated, fearful and some may be ill and even dying. At times like this people usually turn to the church for solace and at present the lack of physical church support is very challenging for them and for us who minister. In the last few weeks, I have heard of ministers making around 20 calls a day to members of their churches.
Leadership in any field of endeavour brings pressure. However, leadership in the context of Christian organisations – and in being a leader for Christ in a secular organisational context – carries with it a peculiar set of stressors especially in respect of demands, limitations, rewards, trauma, relationships and idealisation. Mentors need a detailed understanding of these aspects of context in order to help Christian leaders build effective and relevant strategies for resilience and sustainability. I have posted elsewhere about those strategies; this post is about understanding context.
Endorsement of a ministering person in Churches of Christ in Queensland requires the completion of a 2 year Personal and Professional Formation Plan which involves a commitment to 3 goals and for these to be reflected in specific plans in 8 different areas. Through the year each ministering person meets several times with a companion who helps them to revisit their stated goals and reflect on how they are going with their commitments in each of the 8 areas.
Companions are encouraged to use questions that will help the conversation to go to a deeper level and invite a visiting of any resistances, struggles, arising issues in each area as well as any new empowerments and freedoms.
A six-year-old boy called Nathan asks his father why his mum is crying.
“Because you boys have been naughty” the father responds, referring to the boy and his younger brother.
Nathan immediately feels terrible that his behaviour has caused his mother such distress. Somehow the message goes deep into his soul that he is responsible for the feelings of others. He must NEVER behave in a way that will upset others like that!