Friday, August 1, 2008

Listen to the Littlest: Mentoring

"I'm right behind you. I think I can, I think I can be just like you in everything...maybe, if I keep stretching I can do what you do!"

John Maxwell says you know if you are a leader if people are following you. Titles or positions do not establish you as a leader.

This swan picture caught my eye. That little cygnet (oh yeah, that's a baby swan) is intently watching every gesture of Mom. When I study this picture I'm sobered to my responsibility to those I see following behind me as proteges and students. Suddenly cliches come to mind that guide me as a leader:

  • Do no harm
  • Be prepared
  • Do the right thing
  • Think before you speak

I have always been cautious about who I would follow. When my spiritual mentor came into my life I was spiritually parched. Although she pursued me to become my mentor; my skepticism caused me to stall. But once I saw her continual peace and joy I was the ardent seeker to develop this mentor/protege relationship.

She listened to me with earnestness and validation. She was a constant, sure and lovely arrow pointing to God. When frustrated and spent, I would want to quit the journey to forgiveness of myself and others. Quickly and firmly she would sober me to reality with firm exhortations.

I'm an avid reader and she directed me to the writers that were key to my breakthroughs. Now 20 years later, we are peers and I thank God daily for her leadership, and she is the dearest friend I know.

Since my husband died this April she has taken up her widow mentor role. When I am perplexed she is quick to offer me godly wisdom that again points me to God's best on this widow journey.

My family and friends are keenly aware that this woman is as significant to me as anyone in my life. My children respect her as if she were their own kin.

I've been blessed with many wise Godly leaders, but only one mentor. When I look at these pictures of swans I see this elegant, holy, fun and wise woman as gracious as a swan. God mercifully sent her into my life when I was almost hopeless. I must say I wouldn't want to revisit that pain, but if that was the only way I could have this beautiful woman in my life as mentor and role was worth the cost.

Now, I am mentor to one young woman in particular. I have to be myself; not an imitation of my mentor. But I hold onto my mentor's qualities that kept me going in the right direction.

As an arrow pointing to Jesus Christ, she was available, but she laid down boundaries that I never violated. She was a kind, passionate listener, but she would call me to colors when I was out of line. She understood dying to self and being alive in Christ; so forgiveness, love and strong gentleness were the only acceptable options in relationship conflicts.

Her faith in God gave her the grace to handle her own responsibilities and to never assume God needed her help with His sovereignty!

I cannot be my mentor, but I can recall why I never left her...even when she told me what I didn't want to hear.

She was genuine, transparent, vulnerable, and confident that Jesus Christ was enough.

Prayer was a major part of every day of her life.

Power through the workings of Holy Spirit was her constant message.

She laughed often and when she entered a room I'm convinced the entire electrical atmostphere was triggered to new life.

So, I look behind me and I see some "little ones." Left to my skills I'm frightened, but it has never been about me. Holy Spirit is here; I died to my "whatever" and now I trust Christ in me. Where I am weak, He is strong.

One of my favorite books in my library is dedicated to parents, Listen to the Littlest. The book emphasizes the power of active listening. Listening and honoring the "littlest" ones in my life is a big part of my calling as leader and mentor. My mentor honored me when I was her little it's my turn.

St. Peter expressed the high calling of parent, mentor, leader and witness:

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).


Dorothy Champagne said...

That is my favorite verse. I just spent the last week as a counselor at Middle School camp with my daughter. What an eye opener. I found that the younger girls - not only looked up to the adults - but more so looked up to the eighth graders. Even our children who are young need to be taught that they, too, are leaders and that people are looking up to them. Thank you for this!

Melanie said...

Hello, Kay. Thanks so much for visiting my blog this week.

I really enjoyed this post. The words you write are so very true! The verse you ended with from 1 Peter is one I've thought about several times this week. Oh, how I want to be ready to give that answer when someone comes to me asking!

Have a blessed weekend!

Lelia Chealey said...

Hello Kay!
So nice to "meet" you. :) Thank you so much for your sweet comment on my blog. I can't imagine losing a child. OR a spouse like you have. I'm so sorry about your husband. I'm sure you're experiencing a whole new meaning of leaning on the Lord!
So neat you are reaching out to others through blog land. I will definitely be coming back to read more from your heart after God. I looked up the word thrive after reading your blog title. "grow vigorously". GREAT TITLE Kay! That's the kind of Christian I want to be too. Just chasing Him like a little kid chases a butterfly.
I loved what you wrote here:
She was a kind, passionate listener, but she would call me to colors when I was out of line.

Sounds like you are following in not only God's footsteps, but your mentor's as well. Recently at She Speaks, in one of the sessions I attended the speaker made me realize how my blog is my ministry. The platform God has me on right now in my life. Let Him use you Kay for His glory in blog land. There is a lot of hungry women seeking God needing that special mentor sent from heaven to help and guide them to the throne.
Thriving together!! :)

Clay Feet said...

When I read things like this I begin to feel a little jealous. Not only is it nearly impossible to find mentors but to find them for men is even more difficult. Sometimes when I complain to God about this He seems to tell me that part of my training is to be able to relate to others who have similar difficulties like I have had. I sense that many times I need to rely on allowing God to be my direct mentor - which is certainly not something to complain about. It would just be nice sometimes to be able to relate to a flesh and blood person in that kind of relationship.

I really like the part about active listening. I really want to learn that skill much more and have been trying to stifle my urge to dominate conversations and remind myself to actively listen more. And when I do it really is more rewarding in the long run.

I am growing to enjoy your site more each time I visit. With this title I wonder if you are familiar with the materials of Jim Wilder who conducts Thrive conferences each year. It sounds like you might really connect with the things he shares there.

© 2008 Kay Martin

Thrive In Christ

Who I Am In Christ by Neil Anderson

For several months we will center on this book to pursue Thriving in our Christian journey.

Neil challenges us with: "Do you know who you are in God's eyes? We are no longer products of our past. We are primarily products of Christ's work on the cross. Who we are determines what we do.

You are not who you are in Christ because of the things you have done, you are in Christ because of what He has done. He died and rose again so that you and I could live in the FREEDOM of His love."

That's just the introduction. More to follow.