Every now and then, someone asks why we have guys sign a covenant to be in a mentoring group. Such a religious word! And fraught with doctrinal conflict. Let me explain why the word is so important.
The word commitment is everywhere. Commitments are a dime a dozen. We commit to meet for lunch, but if something comes up, it’s no big deal to cancel out. We commit to exercise and we don’t. We commit to eating better . . . and we don’t. We commit to all kinds of stuff that we don’t do. One of the frustrations I’ve had with small groups over the years is the lack of commitment. Not only will people not come when there’s any amount of resistance, they rarely do any outside prep to make the sessions more meaningful. And it hasn’t been just my groups . . . I hear it repeatedly from folks at my church and others.
The word contract carries a little more weight. It’s a business term that communicates the terms of an agreement including what happens when someone breaches or fails to live up to the terms of the deal. Binding contracts require an exchange of consideration (e.g., money) and usually spell out consequences for failing to perform. It’s obvious why people would choose a commitment over a contract. Less engagement, lighter consequences, and a lower level of obligation involved. And when a contract is either fulfilled or broken, it’s over and done.
That brings us to the word covenant . . . “a formal, solemn, and binding agreement.” Unlike present-day contracts, covenants carry no expiration date and obligation doesn’t go away even if there’s a breach. While a contract is enforced by the government; a covenant is regulated by God. Unlike a contract that involves the exchange of property or actions; a covenant binds two parties together personally. Now understand, the Radical Mentoring covenant has nothing to do with theology, denomination, or otherwise. When groups sign the RM covenant, they’re making a commitment to each other. They’re signing up for equal sacrifice. Equal transparency. Equal inconvenience. Equal effort to do the assignments, share their hearts, and pursue the best version of themselves.
Here’s what’s in the Radical Mentoring covenant . . .
We are hereby making a covenant commitment to the following:
- I commit to pay it forward by investing in others for spiritual purposes. I will be a disciple-maker in whatever way the Lord leads including the possibility of leading mentoring groups of my own.
- I recognize that this mentoring process is based upon Jesus, His message, and His plan for our lives. I will be vulnerable about my relationship with Him, for the purpose of growing my faith.I commit to total confidentiality. What is said in the group stays in the group. This confidentiality does not supersede the law and must never cover up a current or future threat to the health or well-being of another person.
- I understand that my mentor and group will make a significant investment in me. Because it would be unfair and disrespectful to do otherwise, I commit to the entire season and to finishing well. I also recognize that my mentor pledges to give the same level of commitment, dedication, and energy to me. He will visit with each of us in our workplace sometime during the year; and he will attempt to teach and lead from a humble, transparent, and loving heart.
- I commit to attend every meeting and retreat, to be there on time, and to complete all my assigned homework. No exceptions, unless providentially I understand and agree that I will have to say “no” to important things in order to meet this commitment, and I am willing to do so. After we lay out our schedule for the year, I will manage my other commitments around the dates we’ve selected for meetings and retreats.
- I will take direct, unfiltered feedback and I will do everything in my power to receive it in love and to learn from it. I will avoid defensiveness, realizing that when I defend, I lose the opportunity to learn. I commit to being open in examining myself: my personality, my past, my habits, my anger, and my responses to people. I want to learn and be more like Jesus in every fiber of my being.
- I desire to be an all-in Jesus-follower, husband, father, son, friend, disciple-maker, and leader
We don’t talk much about “the fear of the Lord” these days, yet it’s found 300 times in the Bible. It reminds us that God is powerful and holy and worthy of respect. “Covenant” carries that same kind of gravitas. As a result, the men who’ve signed an RM covenant and participated in one of my seventeen Radical Mentoring groups have attended over 99% of the sessions and been prepared virtually every time.
That kind of participation rate is unheard of in our culture today.
Why? Covenant. There’s power in that word.
Scripture: They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul. (2 Chronicles 15:12)
Mentor Tip: Make a big deal out of signing the covenant. While each man will bring his signed copy to your Kickoff Meeting, have a fresh copy with extra signature lines for each man and mentor/co-mentor. Review the promises being made, circulate it and have everyone watch as it’s signed, then sign it yourself. Bring copies for each man to your next session.
ACTIVATE THE MEN IN YOUR CHURCH
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