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So what do I do? Rather than showering them with explanatory words, I do the hand-signals as I say the phrases, showing them how to do it. And they follow. Why? First, because when I show instead of tell, they understand clearly what I mean. And, second, they gain confidence that they can do it because they saw me do it first. This is what strong mentors do! They show us how to live.
In todays world we need models in many areas of life. We need strong role models to show us how to handle alcohol, money, sex, stress, temptation and burnout. We need mentors to show us how to share our faith, how to deal with anger, how to show compassion, how to deal with disappointment, grief and how to do a spectrum of Christian service.
I personally could fill hundreds of pages describing ways various people have mentored me across the years. Here is just one example: One church where I ministered had over two dozen elders. Of course this group included a variety of personality types, but each was uniquely gifted and qualified to shepherd. However, as is often the case among todays church leaders, several of our finest and sharpest men also worked jobs that kept them out of town much of the time. Bob Scott was one of these. I love and respect Bob as much as any man I know. We have double-teamed many a thorny ministry situation. But Bob and I are wired up as differently as is possible in two human beings. Bob is one of the most left-brain men I know, while I am off-the-charts right brain. I have difficulty keeping up with my car keys. Bob is so organized that he considers that a major character defect. I accuse him of being a boring bean counter who thinks in rigid columns. He is cerebral, analytical. I am intuitive, relational. I like stories. He likes facts. Need I say more? But we are alike in one way: we both tend toward being control freaks.
Well, Bob traveled a lot and missed many elders meetings. While he was gone, the other elders and staff would carry on without him working on projects, doing research, running legwork, and finally laying plans. Then, when Bob returned from his trips, he would occasionally blow into an elders meeting and, by my perception, want to re-write the whole script, scrap all the work and change everyone elses minds. I grew more and more irritated.
|They gain confidence that they can do it because they saw me do it first.|
What are you doing? I demanded.
Well, youre talking pretty fast and saying a lot of things. I need to write them down.
And what are you going to do with your notes? I asked suspiciously.
I just ... need to think about them, he calmly responded.
By this time I had begun to settle down and feel sort of cheap. I even warmed up a little and even began smiling. Eventually, I think I went so far as to attempt a couple of feeble football jokes. But here is the amazing part: the next week Bob took all of my input, along with input he had gathered from several others, and compiled a multi-paged questionnaire covering the various areas of his performance in tasks and relationships. He told no one about our conversation. He simply distributed his questionnaire to a circle of people who interface with him and asked them to rate him. What is more, when he got the results back would believe it, he made some definite and obvious changes!
My, did I learn something. About non-defensiveness. About active listening. About humility. About honesty. About vulnerability. About willingness and courage to actually change. I couldnt forget that. In fact a few months later, I asked Bob for a two-hour lunch on my nickel, explaining, This time, Ill bring the pen and pad and you do the talking. I really want you to help me evaluate my ministry and my relationships.
For over two hours, Bob talked and I wrote. The resulting pages stayed on the corner of my desk for many months. I read and re-read them. The man significantly changed my life by his attitude and his actions. He was a strong mentor who showed my how to live. If Bob had merely told me these concepts: non-defensiveness. Listening. Honesty. Humility. Etc. They would only have been abstract ideas. But he showed me.
How about you? Do you have some specific strong person you want to pull up beside, so they can show you how to live and then you can emulate their strength? And whom can you show how to live? How is your GGTW list coming? (Guys and Gals to Watch)
What a treasure is the warm memory of good shepherds who mentor us by the way they live!
HEARTLIGHT® Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
Copyright © 1996-98, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759.
Copyright © 1998, Lynn Anderson, Hope Network. Excerpts from his book, They Smell Like Sheep, Howard Pub. Co., Monroe, LA. Used by permission.
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