Tuesday, January 26, 2010

WORDS FROM THE WISE


"Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts." (Colossians 3:16, NLT)

I was recently speaking at a disability conference where I had an opportunity to meet a number of new leaders in the community. The discussion arose as to what a toll raising a child with special needs takes on a marriage. "I've been to therapists. I don't need another therapist! I need a mentor!," exclaimed a mom when offered free psychological resources by a fellow-leader.

Days later, I was in a chat room discussing similar issues with other parents of special kids when a mom mused, "I get more out of this group than I do from hours at a therapist!" I mentioned the mentoring comment by the mom at the conference. To my surprise, one of the other participants hadn't heard of the mentoring concept in the framework of parenting.

There's no doubt that the Lord loves that model of mentoring. Time and time again, we see characters in both the Old and New Testaments taking others under their wings. From Joshua and Ruth, to Timothy and Titus, God favors the passing on of wisdom from one individual to another. It's that person who has walked a mile in our shoes, but who is just a few steps ahead of us that can be an invaluable resource.

So what should a mentor look like? Here's a little acrostic to help:
  • M odel - A mentor should model behavior and techniques that the mentee would aspire to. For example, if a parent is having difficulty with having a reasonable family life with a child who has ADHD, they would want to connect with a parent who is modelling the type of family life they'd like to have. So often, valuable tools are more caught than taught. Modelling shows an effective method in action.
  • E ncourager - The mentor can relate to the mentee's feelings of defeat or inadequacy. Cheering another to the finish line can often be the only thing that helps us to hang in there on difficult days. In the Christian context, pointing the mentee to God's promises and stories from the Word that mirror our own experience can be a great lift.
  • N ot Out To Impress - The mentor is willing to be transparent, to share their own struggles, to discuss how they got through a similar challenge. A mentoring situation cannot work if there is going to be "window dressing" or acting as if life is under control at all times. A mentor is most useful by being vulnerable themselves.
  • T eacher - Explanation, referral to resources or introduction to other friends can render the mentor a wonderful instructor. How often do we joke that we need classes & a license to drive a car, but there is no school & license to become a parent? When a mentor comes alongside another person, the student becomes the teacher and learning gets passed down the line.
  • O vercomer - Mentors are individuals who refuse to throw in the towel and walk away from a trial in defeat. They know God has a plan for their lives and that their struggles can be recycled for good. They hold tight to promises like Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." The mentor is on the other side of a situation or has learned to thrive in the midst of it.
  • R elying On God - The mentor knows their own limitations. In their humility, they realize that it's the Good Lord who got them through trials that were too big for them to manage on their own. They point the mentee to a wisdom that is beyond the human. And they pray for God to direct them as they mentor that fragile student.

Oh, how rich is the value of that mentoring experience! It may be another couple that helps you and your spouse to adapt to the unique struggles you face. It may be an individual who has a listening ear and a heart for what you're going through that points you in the right direction. I personally grew from parents who went before me in the overwhelming world of raising a child with a bleeding disorder. I also feel I could not have made it through without a woman who was my "big sister" all during my youngest child's high-risk pregnancy. Those people are still dear to my heart as friends today.

If you are in need of the lift of another person's valuable life experience, I encourage you to seek out a mentor today! If you have made it down some rough roads in life, why not use that to bless another by mentoring them? Either way, it can be one of life's greatest gifts.

*For more information on connecting with a mentor, contact us through our website at www.snappin.org

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