You will not find the word “mentoring” in the Bible, but there are many examples of that process. Webster defines a mentor as someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person. Jesus mentored His disciples every day He was with them. The apostle Paul used mentoring when writing to fledgling churches. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, he tells the Church, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” In Philippians 4:9 Paul tells them, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen from me put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Most successful leaders have benefitted from being mentored. In fact, successful leaders often seek out mentors. In today’s world, you can learn just about anything from written text or watching a video. There is nothing wrong with either method, but it is much better to be guided by someone with experience and skill in the area. Reading a book on karate or how to play chess is light years behind studying under a karate master or chess champion. Can books or the Internet help with karate or chess? Yes, but in a limited way. It’s not until you find someone who is good at martial arts or chess that we’re really able to learn and improve. But there are two sides to mentoring - benefitting from the experience of others and sharing your experience with those that may benefit from it.
Forest Hills Baptist Church hired me nineteen years ago. In my first month, I heard about a meeting of local church facility managers. My head was still spinning from all the information that was being thrown at me. I thought this meeting might be of benefit to me. It would be great to meet others facing the same issues I had. I learned a few useful things of a technical nature and met several other FMs. The leader of the meeting was Mark Helstein. At the time, he was Vice-President of something called the NACFM. He sought me out and invited me to come visit him at his church. I accepted this opportunity, eager to learn more about being a Church Facility Manager. What he shared with me, changed my outlook and career. While he did answer all of my technical questions, it was his heart for the Lord that made a difference in my life. I was already a Christian. I knew my new job was more than a job. I knew it was an important part of the ministry of my church. I was not prepared for the passion I heard in Mark’s voice as he talked about his job. He described the honor of being the caretaker of the Lord’s property. He told me of the legacy of the Levites, how they were entrusted with caring for the temple and tools the Priests used. Before I left, Mark prayed with me. He prayed for me. His passion and words prepared me for many of the trials I would face on my new job. Trials, some of which, would come from church members, church leadership and church committees. The mentoring process had begun, and I am a better CCFM today because of it.
Mentoring is not confined to city limits or state lines. Paul continued to mentor Timothy from another continent, even from prison. Modes of communication in our day are vastly improved over the first century. We can reach anyone in the world with ease. I have both mentored and been mentored long distance. The next question is, “How does a mentoring relationship start?” It starts with meeting someone and developing a relationship. The keyword here is meeting. I suppose it is possible to develop a mentoring relationship with someone you have not met. These relationships are very rare. In most cases, you have to meet face to face to develop the kind of relationship that leads to mentoring. It requires an environment that allows the discussion of ideas, commonalities, needs, processes or systems. Where can a meeting like this take place? These opportunities are limited. In the case of Mark and me, it was a local meeting of CFMs. The other two environments that come to mind are our National Conference and our Certification Program. They are the perfect settings for long term relationships to be initiated and nurtured. Both of these events include classroom settings and after hour fellowship, environments that encourage the sharing of ideas, values and needs. They provide the opportunity to get to know others on a deeper, personal level. Only in this manner can you get a feel about whether or not a good match for a mentoring relationship is possible.
If you have attended a National Conference or CP training, you know what I’m talking about. The National Conference will educate you, inspire you, and offer a renewal of spirit that you can take back to your church. The Certification Program gives an overview of every facet of our jobs. This program will fill in the missing pieces of the Church Facility Management puzzle as well as provide a path to enhance your career in a professional way. At the same time, both of these events provide the perfect environment to establish and cultivate life long and life-changing relationships.
If you have not attended a CP session, now called CCFM sessions, I encourage you to do so. We have a session coming up next month. It will be in Houston, October 7-11. You have until September 30th to register.
Bottom line - seek out people willing to invest in you. Seek out those that can benefit from your experience.
Stay tuned for the final part of Why We Need Each Other in next month’s newsletter. Remember to pray for the NACFM and our members. Blessing to all!
Yours in Christ,
16 Leadership Lessons I Learned the Hard Way
Normal teenagers don’t read leadership books. They play baseball, chase girls, and wait on their budding mustache to bloom into all its glory. But as my wife continually reminds me, other than my sweet mustache, I wasn’t normal.
In my defense, I came by it naturally. Our home was filled with leadership books. They were left on bedside tables, stuffed in briefcases, and alphabetized near the theology section of our home library. As a young businessman and civic leader, Dad devoured anything that helped him wrap his mind around his growing responsibilities. As his only son and namesake, I followed suit. By the time I graduated high school, I could quote John Maxwell and Peter Drucker like a seasoned executive.