Mentor Mythbusters: No Time for Stories

Mentor Mythbusters: No Time for Stories

Posted by Kevin Harris on July 1, 2019

Over the last few months, I’ve been asked more than once if the Story Retreat matters. I hear things like, “My men are busy . . .” “We don’t have time to get out of town . . .”

Over the last few months, I’ve also heard from leaders that the Story Retreat was the most formative thing that happened in their groups. Their men share things like, “I’ve never told anyone this before . . .” “I thought I was the only one . . .”

Confession time. I had my current mentoring group spread their stories over our first three months of meetings . . . and I have serious regrets.

Yes, all my mentees shared their stories and heard everyone else’s story, but our group’s growth was hindered because I did not make stories a priority. John Maxwell said, “the speed of the leader is the speed of the team,” and I could not agree more.

Having a retreat specifically to share stories stresses the importance of our stories and allows the group to bond quickly. Not doing so has the opposite effect . . . no one sees or experiences the significance of the retreat.

The mentor sets the tone . . . with the homework, memory verses . . . and the Story Retreat.

The authors of The Cure describe, “a place so safe that the worst of me could be known, and I would discover that I would not be loved less, but more in the telling of it.” This is the Story Retreat defined . . . where the group forms trust and where grace shows itself in the faces of the other men.

Todd Conklin, a mentor from theChurchat in Oklahoma, describes the retreat this way . . .

“Once I created the vulnerability [by sharing my story], I was surprised by the amount of vulnerability that came back at me through my mentees and their stories – there is just a lot brokenness out there. I was shocked by some of the revelations that some of these men will tell. They felt safe because we obviously created a safe environment. There are plenty of guys looking for a community like that.”

In our Radical Mentoring process, we offer three possible agendas for the Story Retreat: a weekend, an overnight, and story day. We created these distinct options because we don’t want your group to miss out on what we think will be a divine appointment for your mentees.

Challenge: Yes, your men are busy, and you are busy. That won’t change. But trust me, make the Story Retreat a priority . . .  if it matters to you, it will be important to your mentees.

Comment here.

Responses (8)

Todd Miechiels
Todd Miechiels Posted: July 1, 2019, 9:16 am


I want to really encourage your current and aspiring Radical Mentors to lean into the importance of being both intentional and reverent in creating space for the men to share their stories. I find that often times leaders hesitate to do this with their men for deep seeded reasons that are rooted in pride and/or fear. If it’s not their own pride and fear, it can be the pride and fear that they perceive in their men. In either case, perfect love casts out all fear, and above all sharing stories with each other is an incredible context by which to demonstrate, give, and receive unconditional love. As always, thank you for your encouragement and friendship!

Kevin Harris
Kevin Harris Posted: July 3, 2019, 8:02 am

Thanks Todd – no one knows the power of story like you do!

Al Hart
Al Hart Posted: July 1, 2019, 12:23 pm

Could not agree more with Kevin. Though I work in a recovery program, the importance of men sharing their stories is ABSOLUTELY a huge moment in the life of your group. I always have men say that some of their story they have never shared before and it is VERY emotional. It bonds and builds the group incredibly fast.

Kevin Harris
Kevin Harris Posted: July 3, 2019, 8:02 am

Thanks for sharing this with our tribe Matt!

Pat Morgan
Pat Morgan Posted: July 1, 2019, 9:19 pm

I struggled with this in my early years of mentoring. We’d do launch nite, get to know each other a little bit, then pull out the calendars to begin planning the year. Then I’d say, “It says here that we’re supposed to do a retreat so can we do that some weekend in the next month?” And the answer would be an emphatic “NO! Our schedules are already packed for the next six months.” So we’d do a story day instead. It’s OK, but it ain’t no retreat!
In recent years when I’m talking to new prospects I tell them, “Launch Nite is January 18th, and we will be doing a one-nite retreat out-of-town on February 17th or 24th. Please hold those dates open for us.” And we’ve almost always been able to get it done on one of those days. I recommend you try it this way. It works.

Kevin Harris
Kevin Harris Posted: July 3, 2019, 8:01 am

I think you are right Pat! When I wait to try to schedule it on launch night it is harder to pull off. If you give them the options earlier on in the process, you let them know how important the retreat is and have them saving the dates.

Great input from a long-term mentor!

Dave Christopher
Dave Christopher Posted: July 8, 2019, 9:07 pm

I completely agree about the story retreat. In each of the past 2 years of RM, we’ve done this in our second meeting – it really sets the course for the rest of the semester. Guys opened up there and the remaining meetings. Trust was established early.

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