Remembering, attentiveness and envisioning

mentors can facilitate postures of remembering, attentiveness, and envisioning that allow the divine Mentor to infuse and transform emerging adults’ past, present, and future stories. Even more to the point, they can help emerging adults connect their stories to the past, present, and future story of God.

Setran and Kiesling, Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood

I have done a lot of mentoring over the years. Sometimes it’s been with Bible college students and interns from external ministries, sometimes it’s been (very!) part-time employees who have assisted us with ministry, and other times it’s been young women in the congregation.  I’ve done this because I believe that it is absolutely central to leadership in the church.  Indeed, I believe that I am only a leader to the extent that I am involved in other people’s lives, helping them to trace in their own experiences the thread of God’s activity and God’s Word to them, and opening freely my own life with him to them.

But, beyond that, I’ve never felt that I had a particular framework for mentoring.  My only methodology has been to meet for a coffee or a glass of wine and to spend a lot of time listening.  I’ve laughed and I’ve cried with them and I’ve always tried each time we meet to ask at least one direct and unapologetic question about where it’s at with God in their lives and what they think he is saying to them in these days.  Beyond that, it’s been a bit ad hoc!

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But this excerpt of text gives me a new model for thinking about mentoring.  I love this pattern of remembering, attentiveness and envisioning.  It gives a holistic framework for thinking about the work of God in our lives.  Sometimes, as young adults, I think we in our 20s and 30s need help to remember what God has done, to look at past events in our lives where perhaps we had never seen his fingerprints, and to talk together about where he might have been at that time.  And I know that I myself need help in being attentive to the present.  I need people around me who will ask me what God is doing right now and challenge me as to whether I am submitting to or hindering that process.  Then, there is the aspect of envisioning.  Young adults in their 20s and 30s need help to articulate what they hope to see in their future.  In days of increasing apathy – and perhaps even encroaching despair – we need, more and more, those whose conviction of the faithfulness and power of God gives them confidence to declare to us the hope of a good future.

Remembering, attentiveness and envisioning.  I think it could just be a good recipe for mentoring.  I shan’t give up on the glass of wine element to my method, of course, but I might well try experimenting with this new framework in my mind.  Anyway, what about you?  If you do invest in mentoring young adults – or emerging adults as they are popularly becoming known – how do you do it?  And do you agree with me that mentoring, or people investment, is absolutely essential to church leadership?

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