The importance of mentoring
By Susie Harrington
In the VOX Young Adults’ Survey, we shared comments from many young Christians who are asking for mentors - people to invest in their lives. At a leadership event in Belfast in October, Susie Harrington gave seven practical tips to help leaders “pass the baton”. Here VOX magazine brings a summary of her message, which encourages us to build a culture of mentoring in churches across the island of Ireland.
Miles Monroe said, “True leaders don’t invest in buildings. Jesus never built a building. They invest in people. Why? Because success without a successor is failure. So your legacy should not be in buildings, programmes, or projects; your legacy must be in people.”
We were created to multiply who we are, to continue to replicate what has been birthed in us and pour that into other people. We were born to mentor others. If we don’t, God says, “Why not?” Consider these seven tips as you seek to release others to be who they were created to be.
"I'M ENOUGH WITHOUT GOD"
It is important for you to know that you are unique. God has gifted you with your own character, calling and gifting that He has worked hard at developing in you through your life story. You are the precious gift of God to the people in your world so don’t be afraid to give away what has been given to you.
In order to invest in others all you need is to stay one step ahead of the people that you are leading. So take time to invest in yourself by positioning yourself in places where you are drawing investment - both from other people but vitally from the presence of Jesus through your intimate time of worship with Him.
The danger as seasoned leaders is that our testimony of faith, of God stretching us and us allowing Him to stretch us is from years ago. When did we last do something outrageous or illogical with God? The people we are leading need to see us doing the outrageous things so always be on your own faith journey.
Remember to be kind to yourself, give yourself time to be led by still waters. Life and ministry is often a rat race so do the things that are good for your body, soul and spirit remembering that this journey of leadership is a marathon not a sprint.
RUN YOUR OWN RACE
Some of us are called to be pioneers and cut the first track through the thick jungle, others are inheritors who create a path and others enhance using the path that’s become a road and building a six-lane highway for the masses to follow. Know your race; know your calling!
But always remember to take time to stand on the sidelines and cheer on the next generation following behind you.
REFUSE TO BE THREATENED
There are some amazing talented young leaders rising up that are more gifted, more talented and have more of everything than you. As a leader you have to choose whether we are going to be intimidated, whether you’re going to hold onto what you have or whether you’re going to create platforms for other people that will go further than you.
Your ceiling needs to become their floor. We constantly need to give opportunities to others that we would prefer to take ourselves so that we can eventually do ourselves out of a job.
HOLD LOOSELY TO WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN
So often, we have fought for what we have achieved, we’ve battled for the arena in which we minister. Because we’ve had to work so hard, the temptation is to cling on to our territory, our title and our influence.
Sadly, in my experience, if we will not let it go, God will unclench our hands, slowly, finger by finger so that we feel we are left with nothing. It’s so much better to hold things with open hands so that when God asks us to release something we can. Then we will have empty hands so He can fill them again.
LOOK FOR DIAMONDS IN THE COAL
Diamonds reside in the black dust of the coalface - they are there but you need to look for them. As leaders, we need to look for the potential in people, even if it is buried in pain, rejection and hurt. We need to look with the eyes of Jesus to see the beauty amongst the ashes and to see what God is saying over the people that we are leading.
It helps as leaders to have other trained professionals such as counsellors to help and support people to become who they were created to be.
WHO'S IN YOUR HOUSE?
One of the greatest gifts we can ask for as leaders is discernment. Discernment enables us to know who to invest into. I believe God is calling us to invest in people and to be those leaders who are the unnamed, unknown, faceless warriors in the faith who raise others to greatness. It is really important to look around you and ask, “Who is in my house?” Make it your priority to say hello to the children that are in your church. It is at an early age that their opinion of church gets formed and their opinion of leadership is experienced. You never know who is in your house!
KNOW YOUR CAPACITY AND YOUR CALLING
Knowing who you are, what God has called you to and what you can give is crucial for you to stay focused and to know where and who to input. The enemy would love to dilute your influence so that you get distracted with other things.
Where is your sphere of influence? Mentor into your calling because if you go outside of it, you will lose something incredible and the people you are mentoring will get a diluted version of you.
If we are each true to what God has called us to then the multifaceted wisdom of God will be made known to each generation, each sphere of influence and sector of our community
You can’t lead where you haven’t gone yourself!
Susie Harrington co-leads a local church in Suffolk with her husband Trevor as well as “M Power” - a ministry training college and “BE” - a women’s ministry conference. Her passion is to help people realise their full potential in every area of their lives – relationships, family, friendships, work and ministry, so that they can become agents of change within their world.