Without a doubt, I have found that the number one reason women don’t mentor is because of the fear that they don’t have anything to offer. Nothing can be further from the truth, but the belief of this lie paralyzes us from moving forward when we have the opportunity to act. We all have something to offer, and maybe the reason people think they don’t is because they haven’t taken the opportunity to regularly consider who they are. Who are you? If you have never done so, set aside time this week to write down the answer to that question.
At its core, leadership flows out of our being not from our doing. When we know who we are and whose we are, we are compelled to act because our purpose requires it. Therefore, one of my points of note to mentors and those considering mentoring is to ensure they are self-aware and caring for their own souls. Regularly setting aside time to be with the God and ask yourself the hard questions, evaluate motivations, rearrange priorities, and consider the important relationships in your life (both those where you are currently investing and others God might be inviting you into) is critical and intentional work in the life of a mentor. Oftentimes, getting clarity about our own insecurities and motivations require us to be still in the presence of the Lord. In his presence, we can quiet the noises and distractions in our head. In his presence, we can set our intentions on him and what he will have us do with our lives. Settling down to listen to the Lord, frees you from the “shoulds” or what you feel you “ought to” do, and brings the necessary conviction concerning the “musts” or those assignments God has strategically placed in front of you.
For healthy leaders and mentors, settling down to enter the presence of the Lord is a necessary rhythm of one’s life. For me, this rhythm includes the choice to regularly practice a Sabbath day of rest. I normally take my Sabbath at least from sun up to sun down on Sunday. At the end of this day, my mind if free and relaxed, so I am able to sit down and plan the rest of the week. This planning includes all the important “yes” and “no” responses, and everything from appointments and meetings, work out and reading plans, and those people I plan to encourage or intentionally invest in that week by writing a letter, sending an email or text, teaching, praying, etc.
Mentoring is an investment of one’s time. It most certainly takes time to invest in others, yet today we are focusing on the healthy ways for mentors to invest in understanding their own worth, priorities, and work to sustain their ministry over the long haul. Taking a weekly Sabbath is one way we can do that.
In addition to settling down to determine the weekly investments and commitments, I recommend making longer term considerations as well. Every three to six months, I evaluate priorities by asking important questions like: Have I focused on the work to which I am uniquely called? Where did I miss the mark? Is there an opportunity to recover or correct? Do I need to shift the commitment of time in one area so I can better focus on another? How can I invite others into the work God is doing? Settling down for this assessment takes time, and can set you on a more focused path for the next three to six months. This evaluation can include one intentional focus and a couple goals moving forward.
An example of a focus would be: I’m going to finish (insert life giving or purposeful project here). This can include finally planting that garden, organizing your office, or applying for the next job. This longer focus might take some time, research, planning, but you have a realistic idea of when it can be done if you just steady your hand to the plow. Settling down in the presence of God can help you identity this important “what” for the next 3-6 months.
Likewise, this focus can be accompanied by smaller goals. For example:
To improve my health, energy, and sleep pattern, I will walk, run, or go to the gym three times per week. (Following through on this goal may include scheduling this activity on your weekly calendar and/or telling a friend who can join you or keep you accountable.)
In the same way that you settle down for a 3-6 month personal assessment, I recommend an annual time of reflection. This time is important for practicing the discipline of celebration and thanking God for all he has done. I’m keenly aware of how blessed or spoiled we are by God. As Americans, we take our daily blessings like having hot running water in our home, having an education or the ability to read, write, see, hear, walk, or not being sick in our bodies for granted. Years and years pass with these blessings to the point where we see this as our normal, without acknowledging the grace of God daily at work in our lives. I hope giving thanks to God is a part of our daily existence, yet I have found setting aside time annually to reflect, thank God, and write down his many blessings and provisions, even in the hard areas, is an important rhythm. And again, this gives us better clarity and understanding going into a New Year.
Are you a mentor or leader? Do you know who you are? What are some areas where God might be inviting you to settle down and replace lies with truth, understand your purpose and assignments, and prioritize your weekly, monthly, and annual commitments?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2015