Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The Proper Care & Feeding of Your Mentor
Guest Post: Kimberly Jones


Normally in this space I would introduce the guest poster by sharing how we met. Kimberly takes care of this in her post, so I will dispense with that tidbit of information here and let her tell you. I asked Kimberly if she would share insights about the proper treatment of a mentor. I've been serving as one of her mentors for a while and quickly noticed that she knows how to treat, and keep a mentor. Therefore the reason I not only asked her to share today, but the reason I kept her as a mentee when I got rid of almost everyone else for the last six months. (LOL) I didn't request nor expect her to say any of the amazing things she's said about me here. In fact, I was really uncomfortable with it at first and even thought of not publishing it because I didn't want it to seem self serving.  Ultimately I decided to share this because of the principle of the thing. She speaks valuable truth regarding this issue that applies to all. While I'm humbled by her accolades, please look beyond them to the heart of her message, which is, the proper treatment of a mentor.
 


Have you ever wondered where Luke Skywalker would have been without Obi-Wan Kenobi? Obi recognized the force was strong in Luke, but without the guidance and discipline he brought, it was just potential energy and nothing more.  What about the New Directions? They would have never even made sectionals without the help of Will Shuester much less win nationals, despite what Sue Sylvester seems to think. He saw much more than a motley crew of teens. He saw broadway stars, actors, and songwriters.

Mentor (n.) a wise and trusted counselor or teacher

The beauty of having a good mentor is in the finding and keeping of one. It’s oft a long and wide search to find a good mentor. A mentor should be someone of your gender whom you trust, respect, understand, and who’s been where you’re walking and are headed. 

When I graduated from college I was so lost, so confused, so directionless and with no one to turn to. I floundered through life for almost 3 years. This is not to say that I didn’t have my parents or many wonderful women of God in my life through the local church. To deny the influence of the amazing women who surrounded me would be an outright lie. I’m saying it was hard to find someone who truly understood me. Many people have tried to encourage me and speak into my life and even though they meant well, because they did not adhere to the same values as I or fully understand where I’ve been and where I’m headed, their words fell flat, on deaf ears, and, in some cases, did more harm than good. Sometimes a well-meaning pat answer is worse than nothing at all.

One day my parents [who are lead pastors of a church] started talking about a lady named Deanna Shrodes who wrote a funny blog and was a pastor’s wife. They spoke of her blog often and I found I could relate with the topics too. I began reading her blog and was surprised at her candor. I wanted to meet this lady! 

I finally got to meet Pastor Deanna when she and her husband spoke at a conference held at the church my dad pastors. It’s a rare thing when I meet someone and click with them instantly. I’m awkward, not much for small talk, and shy at first meeting. She was powerful, confident, and unafraid. I wanted to be something like her. I wanted her to be my pastor. Being that my dad is a pastor, I never fully felt I had a pastor because I didn’t view dad as my pastor. To me, he was my dad.

Although Pastor Deanna and I are separated by a good hour and half drive, I speak with her frequently through Facebook messaging. She gives me sound advice and I try my best to obey and heed her words. She is taking her precious time to pour from her wisdom, experience and heart into me. She is in no way obligated to expend her energy on me. I am not part of her church, not one of her clients, and I am not directly in her path or sphere of influence. As a result, I don’t get upset if she doesn’t respond immediately. She is a wife, mother, friend, pastor, faithfully writes this blog daily, and is a job coach on the side. Plus, how many other people are vying for time with this godly, wise woman? Because of her caliber, she is in high demand. 

I don’t get bent out of shape if she tells me something I don’t want to hear. She’s not there to tell me how wonderful I am or raise my level of self-confidence. She is there to speak the truth to me in love, especially when it hurts. She is also there because she wants to be and that’s the part that means the most. To know that someone is choosing to pour into my life means more than gifting me with every single Joyce Meyer book ever written or teaching series ever recorded. (If you know how much I adore Mama Joyce, then you’ll understand the depth of this statement.)

I recently heard Nelson Searcy at a Fusion Seminar say that “You attract what you are.” He was speaking about church growth and assimilation, but how true is that statement in every situation of life? We become whom we emulate because as a man thinketh, so is he. It’s important to choose a mentor wisely, but it’s even more important to keep this person properly cared for so they’ll stick around. While we’re in the fight of our lives, so are they. Bearing one another’s burden can be gruesome and tiring.

Maybe as a mentee of a mentor, I have a role, too. Maybe I’m supposed to guard Pastor Deanna and protect her just as she does for me. After all, I am under her authority and all authority is given by God. Shouldn’t I in turn be loyal to my mentor and protect her integrity, time, and focus? Shouldn’t I continually lift her and her ministry up in prayer, too? She has committed to pray for me. She is also imparting wisdom to me that could shape my very destiny. I can’t afford to not pray for her in this case! 

When you give, you receive. The Bible also instructs us to give out of our need. I wish I’d figured that principle out sooner. If you need a mentor and someone to pour into you, begin where you are and pour from yourself into someone else. If you keep that influence and wisdom inside of you, it becomes stagnant and turns murky like a glass of tea left out for days. To keep yourself fresh, you must allow the Word of God and His spirit to continually flow through you like a faucet. Mentoring is not a one way street. At the same time Pastor Deanna is pouring from herself into me, I am to be a vessel who then pours from my overflow into another. There are others who are younger than me in my path and some who have sought me out who I can then pour into. That’s the beauty of giving. Mentorship is a cycle. 

Perhaps someday it will be spoken of many, “Where would ____________ be without the influence of Deanna Shrodes?” I know that will be said of me. 
  
Kimberly Jones is a multi-talented visionary, writer, event planner extraordinaire, future wife and adoptive mother, and hopes to go down in history as a girl who went after the heart of God to show a lonely generation how they are loved.  She serves on staff at City Life Church of Orlando and blogs at makingapearl.wordpress.com.

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