'Follow me as I follow Christ'
Last week, I was sitting with a great man of faith who lives outside of Washington D.C. In recent months, he’s become a new mentor in my life. I found that being mentored in his way includes answering compelling questions about faith, life inside faith, and the damage religion has caused our world today. (More on that to come later in another blog post)
As we were sitting in a quaint little coffee shop outside of Georgetown, he leaned into the table staring directly into my soul and asked, “Andy, have you ever asked someone to follow you like you follow Jesus?”
Like a punch in the gut, my immediate reaction was to think No way!! How arrogant can someone be? Of course not. Who would ever even think about doing that?
Seeing the consternation on my face, he continued, “Remember, if we read the scriptures, the Apostle Paul asked the people of the church of Corinth to do just that.
“I know what you’re thinking, it might seem arrogant at first; but think about the relationship between the people and their mentor.
“If you ask someone to follow you, it holds you accountable to teaching and caring. If someone decides to follow you, they have willingly established a commitment to do what you say.”
I sat back deep in my chair perplexed.
Of course I want to be mentored.
Of course I want to do what my mentor asks.
But am I willing and ready to put myself in a position of caring deeply for another at this level? Am I willing to mentor in the way I am being mentored?
For those of you who have read my writings here in the past, you know that my faith guides and directs much of what I do in my life, and I realize not every one has the same convictions I do. Believe me when I say, “I don’t expect everyone to think like I think” but I do believe there are valuable lessons we can learn from people who began one of the largest faith traditions in the world.
Inside this faith tradition of old stands one of the giant men of faith The Apostle Paul. Paul has been credited to have written nearly 2/3 of the whole of the New Testament, and stood before kings, princes, governors and various other leaders of his time. So when he asked the people of Corinth to “follow” him as he followed Jesus, he was asking them to engage in a relationship of commitment. He asked them to commit to a relationship of mentoring.
Do what I do.
Become like me as I become like the leader I long to be like. (Jesus in this case)
And so as I thought about the question asked at the coffee table, I started thinking…
Willingness is actually a two-part equation.
In order to engage in a relationship of mentoring, there must exist, somewhere in relational space, a willingness for both parties to care deeply for the intended goal.
In the Leadership Design Model, we encourage Mentors to see people as whole human begins, filled with specific gifts and life goals individually designed for their lives. We encourage Mentors to see each and every person as a special human being designed for a specific purpose in this life.
At the same time, we encourage Mentorees to commit what they are learning from and sharing with their Mentor. We ask that the Mentoree takes his life seriously in all honesty and to see the world as a wide wonderful story ready for them to take the stage and explore.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where instant gratification is the norm, and self-exhibition is the common lexicon. And in our world, there lies a great void of people who are willing to commit one to another. We don’t want to take the risk of diverting someone’s stories as they see our mistakes. And we certainly don’t want to take the time to dive into someone’s stories that are full of mistakes. That would come with a great responsibility. What if I fail?
Willingness isn’t simply a desire to be achieved. Willingness is a commitment to one another, intentional about walking through each person’s story with wide eyes of wonder. Willingness is the longing to see what lies around the next corner of both our stories.
Willingness is taking a risk to know someone else, and to be known by someone in relationship. It’s a risk to be vulnerable, honest, and embrace the reality that all our stories are being written in real time. Willingness is to care deeply for the success of another, AND willingness is a commitment to the process set forth by the one we’ve chosen to lead us through our own story.
Rest assured, Mentoring isn’t for the faint of heart.
It takes courage.
It takes risk.
It takes vulnerability.
It takes compassion.
It takes a willingness to be mentored as we mentor.
So let’s climb into this story with another and ask, “Will you follow me as I follow ____________”