No matter what the subject, someone will always know more than you do and may be eager to pass it on. I’ve been mentored by teachers in areas like leadership, small groups, assimilation in the church, event planning, setting long range goals and objectives, marriage and child development, etc. Learning with a teacher- mentor is more focused and personal, and therefore can be faster and deeper. Try it….you’ll love it.
A mentoring relationship with a teacher-mentor can be informal or formal. The time can be short. The subject matter can be large or small. I remember when I accepted my first full time ministry staff position at Briarwood, a church of about 3000 at the time. I was hired to develop an assimilation process. It was in the 80’s and this was a unique position and at the time few churches around the country were into this. By nature I’m a pioneer and therefore love to start new things. I was young and knew little about assimilation. For some reason the church saw potential in me and gave me this wonderful opportunity. The first few weeks I called several of the largest churches in America to learn what they were doing with assimilation. What I gained was specific need-centered mentoring. Notice in this case that I, the mentoree, took the initiative. I knew I had a need and was able to specify that need. I did not wait around for someone to come along and help me. I approached others who I thought could be learned from. The words “up to speed” connote the important function of teacher-mentors. They can organize information and present it in such a way that the mentoree covers ground rapidly—much more than would be the case if it just happened over long periods of time. This kind of mentoring ought to be going on all the time with middle and upper level leaders. The pattern: a challenging assignment, recognizing a need for knowledge or understanding, identifying a teacher-mentor who can meet that need, and receiving empowerment through the mentoring process.
Teachers are special kinds of mentors. They have knowledge in a specific area, the ability to organize that knowledge, and the desire to empower another. It is not just information that is put in a notebook but material that is relevant, practical and will be used immediately.
Teacher-mentors are always available. You simply have to look for them. On the next post we will talk about how to find them and their function. What teacher-mentor has helped you most to get moving in the right direction?