I have been blessed to have many great mentors in my life thus far. They have invited me into the business and messiness of their own lives, and walked with me through my own, sometimes disheveled, reality. I am still learning how to be a mentor myself, and there are a few things that I have learned along the way.
I am not the hero.
As a small group leader or mentor, it can be easy to fall into the “hero” trap. This is where you allow your position as a leader or mentor to feed your pride. You love the attention and power that your standing has, and so you condition those you lead to “need” you, and sometimes even put you on a pedestal, often subconsciously.
For the longest time, I cultivated small groups that helped girls feel safe and loved, but I rarely equipped them to pursue their faith on their own. While leading by example is in itself powerful, there must also be intentional disciple-making in the process. How will these young women fare if I were out of the picture? Am I setting them on a path where they can eventually lead someone else themselves? Am I stealing God’s glory quietly in my heart? These were hard questions to ask myself, and the truth was a heartbreaking reality to fathom. But it was necessary for me to stop being the hero, and instead, make Christ the hero.
I must take care of myself first.
I can’t tell you how many times I walked into a small group setting or coffee meeting with a girl, and my heart was not in the right place. Although I believe the enemy works especially hard on the days when opportunities to lead are on the agenda, there’s also some self-ownership that has to take place.
After doing ministry for a few years, it can become easy to rely on stock responses that we have often recited, and rely on our own knowledge from past experiences to be our main and only tools in the toolbox. The result is apathy in our own hearts, and appearing disingenuous to those we lead. Trust me, these girls can see right through in-authenticity. While past experiences can be powerful, and we should recycle them, we can’t only live off of our highlight reels. We need to continually be cultivating hearts that seek God’s movement in our lives. We need to constantly be changed and reminded of His love.[easy-tweet tweet=”We need to continually be cultivating hearts that seek God’s movement in our lives. ” user=”@McGraw_Steph” hashtags=”#hearts”]
When we are being transformed into His likeness on a daily basis, we will have new wisdom and insight to share with others. If we want these girls to pursue the Lord, we need to be pursuing Him ourselves. We need to show them what a faithful walk looks like. By doing so, we are filled with the Spirit, and out of the overflow, we can fill others.
In addition to spending time in prayer and reading and meditating Scripture, we also need to recognize that taking care of ourselves sometime’s means getting help. It’s ok to ask for help. It can be hard at first but pray for people in your life that you can call on whim and will remind you of what is true.
The result? We are left breathless at God’s divine appointments and strange conversations that make us feel like the other person was just reading our diary. The Spirit draws us closer to Him, and naturally to others, in organic, authentic, and life-giving community.
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