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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mentoring and being mentored

David "mentoring" N who's in absolute awe

Recently I feel God has been bringing to my attention the importance and value in discipleship, mentoring, and being mentored.  Over the years I have had the privilege of all three, and have seen damage AND growth come from them depending on how they're taken on.  Maybe we need some definitions to help?

Mentor-someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person

Disciple-(other than the first 12 in the Bible of course)-To teach; to train, or bring up.
To make disciples of; to convert to doctrines or principles.

Back in high school, I had a rough experience when our small group leader explained that we in the group are accountability partners to each other. Although the purpose was to keep one another encouraged, we were not all trained in how to communicate and how to listen to each other regarding how to address sin in our accountability partner’s life.  Unfortunately, my friend and I were unsure how to go about this, and when she attempted to encourage me, she ended up telling me unproductively, and I did not know how to productively interpret.  So after one week, I thought I could not nor had I ever done anything right with my life.  And if anyone knows me, they know that I am much more sensitive to critique than I seem at first.

Thankfully I have an awesome Mom who encouraged me and helped me heal from the tough words I felt.  She also (thanks Mom!) talked with the small group leader about us being an accountability partners.  I should also say that my Mom, although biased toward her own child, didn't write off all the "errors of my ways," but encouraged me to really reflect on the possibility that I may actually have sin to deal with.  That maybe I don’t have to be defensive and I can think about how I can pray for the Lord to help me in the things I may not see on my own.  Since then, I have learned how to be a friend back to much more sensitive people.

I am now 27, I mentor a high schooler, lead a small group through our church, host a mom group, and am pregnant with #2.  Although I would say I have mentors in my life (my Mom, some friends that are a little older and/or more experienced), I am realizing there is much to be said about meeting with someone on a regular basis that can mentor from an experienced and loving view.  So finding this person is my "next step" (as our church likes to call them). 

Mom Group...can't imagine adding another boy in this pic

I encourage you to find someone who follows God's commands:

"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." Titus 2:3-5

Pick someone who is looking to follow God in every step of their day, who has shown fruit in their life (try to live out God's Word, and are humble in their walk), and are reliable to meet regularly. Also, if you are married and your spouse loves Jesus, check-in with your spouse and make sure you both are in agreement with who you will be meeting with.

 

N learning drums from Dad at church

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dramatic lives mean what in the end?

Stepping on egg shells-symbolic?
 As a child, everything is a big deal.  Temper tantrum for not getting the toy first, having less candy than any sibling on Halloween, going to bed earlier than your friends, etc.
As an adolescent, you're learning some things are not all about you, but you're still focused and freaking out if you're getting taller/not growing at the rate it seems everyone else is, or being in a higher math/English/ and/or social studies class than your friends (well...used to be your friends as you may no longer "fit" or see them).

Teenagers, you know not everything is about you, but you love when they are.  Having your friends throw you a party, a boy/girl liking you, getting a license/phone/computer/ car/job, and all the drama in between.

 College, hopefully by now either a pastor, friend, or God Himself has made it pretty clear life is NOT about YOU.  Sure, it feels good when it is, but dang is that temporary and drained out like sand in a hourglass only leaving us wishing there was more.  You may learn this the hard way through "living the college life" like I did, or hopefully you were wise enough to learn from people's mistakes.

John 4 tells the story of the woman at the well where Jesus concludes with “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
How powerful and comforting that SHOULD be!  But learning to grasp the true meaning behind this, and the so many other times Jesus tries to explain how we should live our lives, isn't easy.  It isn't a dramatic 180 change either.

"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." Psalm 26:3
Perfect peace?  That sounds nice! But first I have to trust in Christ :/...once again not this dramatic "oh Lord I trust you and all is well now!"  It's the little things that may even go unnoticed by the outside.  Like our attitudes.  Body language. Quick responses.
Nathaniel "at peace" for a moment

I've been reading in a book called Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic about how we as the parents are responsible for exemplifying grace, love, and walking daily with Christ.  One chapter is about our language.  Like any adult around children, we have to watch the words we use, but I am afraid that sarcasm, jokes, and slang are becoming "respectable sins" (the title of another great and convicting book) to make huge of a situation that should be small.  She shares of a morning trying tend to her 5 children under 5, and how the chaos of it all is "overwhelming".  For her, she has decided to cut that word specifically from her vocabulary.  Kinda silly sounding, huh?  But it gave her room to say "But I can't" when God wants us to have joyful hearts always.  It doesn't mean moments weren't overwhelming, but the words we say have so much more power over us and those around us than we realize.
I'm sure you know people that exhibit overly dramatic responses to life, just so, in turn, someone will agree with their dramatization.  After all, what's wrong with venting?  But, I wonder what would happen if we spent more time venting to Jesus, and venting to the people close to us who can then point us to Jesus?  This may be a much better approach than publicly venting and looking for affirmation, because it is far less likely that our source of true strength is going to come from our public dramatizations. Heck, I've been tempted to publicly post some thoughts just because I'm ticked, tired of, done with x,y, and z. But instead, I have found a great reward of peace from Christ when I am able to depend on him and vent directly to Him, or my husband or close friends, who, in turn, encourage me back to Jesus.

1 Thess 4:11 and 1 Timothy 2:1-4 talk about the value in living quiet lives.  That we would reach out to those around us in love, but quietly.  Any attention drawn for selfish reasons is drawn away from Christ.