A few weekends ago, I had the pleasure of preaching at one of our partner churches, Grace City Church in Irvine, CA, while their Lead Pastor was out of town. Because this was an outside service, they warned me that it’d be quite warm. But after checking the forecast and seeing the morning temp was only 75 degrees, I wondered why everyone was worried. However, as the service started, I noticed most attendees were set up a little ways back under a row of trees. Mere seconds later, as I started pouring sweat, I understood why.
While I’m not a preacher, I am a recovering perfectionist who tends to always put extra pressure on myself to “get it right.” So, I had my iPad all set up with my sermon roadmap and notes, and things were going great for the first 15 minutes. But then I looked down to check notes and was greeted with a red thermometer icon and the message “iPad needs to cool down before you can use it.” That’s when I really started sweating. The bad news was that I didn’t not a paper copy of my notes (last time I make that mistake!). But the good news was that I knew where I was headed, and I was mostly conscious of my remaining notes. I may not have quoted all my Scripture references perfectly, but the rest of the sermon went well because I was prepared…enough.
As I reflected on this experience later, I realized a parallel to leading and navigating a mentoring meeting. One of the things Radical Mentoring provides mentors for every topic is a Meeting Guide. While the Meeting Guide contains talking points, questions, and points of emphasis organized on a detailed timeline, the purpose isn’t to give you a script to follow but to provide you a roadmap and help you prepare. As we often say, the best mentors are facilitators, not teachers. You’re not teaching a lesson; you’re facilitating a conversation that develops out of the life circumstances of your mentees and the wisdom you’ve gained through your experiences.
Over the years, I’ve encountered two extremes, both from talking to mentors and from personal experience leading mentoring groups. One extreme is the “over-prepared” mentor who follows the Meeting Guide word-for-word and minute-by-minute, leaving little space for natural conversation to occur or the Holy Spirit to show up. The other extreme is the “under-prepared” mentor who relies solely on past experiences and just enough assumptions to stagger through a three-hour session. While God can absolutely work in any and all scenarios, both of these extremes almost always leave mentees feeling lukewarm about the experience.
The best mentors are prepared…enough. They’ve read the book, done the homework, memorized the Scripture, and prayed for their mentees. They’ve looked at the Meeting Guide, and they know where they want to go. They’ve prepared questions and a story or two that will encourage their mentees to take off their masks and lean into the conversation. But they’re also ready to adapt and accommodate the needs and issues present in the room.
Mentoring is important work. But it’s also really fun! What’s cooler than helping those coming behind us understand what it looks like to follow Jesus and “live this way of life”? So, make time to plan and prepare, but don’t hold the agenda and the process so tight that you stifle the meaningful dialogue that is bound to happen when we leave God space to work.
Now go forth and prepare…enough!
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