I learned the importance of sitting around the table at a very early age. Mostly because there was good food involved but there was never a shortage of life happening around the table in my house. The table actually became one of my most favorite places to be, as long as people chewed with their mouths closed, that is.
As my family and friends would gather around the table, we would eat good food that was lovingly and skillfully prepared by my mom and stories would ensue. Laughter would always find its way to the table and sometimes there would be tears. But, for the most part, those who sat around my childhood table left feeling satisfied, in both belly and soul.
Until I joined in on the launch team for this book, Table Mentoring: A Simple Guide to Coming Alongside by Sue Moore Donaldson, I would have told you that I was a tad bitter any time the subject of mentoring was broached. I actually had a conversation with my daughter in law recently about mentoring. I think I managed to encourage her that finding a mentor was a positive thing even amidst my own personal hang ups.
Mentoring relationships are not new to me but I’ve not really had the blessing of experiencing a good one that lasted. But honestly, each time a program or bible study or anything emphasizing mentorship is mentioned, I reach for the antacids. It’s one thing for me, an adult, to be hurt by an unhealthy mentoring relationship but it’s quite another for a mom to see her kid’s hearts wounded by one. Which I did. All of the best intentions carried out poorly can usher in damaging results. This was my story with mentoring. My heart became skittish at best and hardened at worst.
Intellectually, I know that mentor relationships can be good and healthy. They are even biblically supported. But for my deep feeling heart with a serious aversion to risking the pain of misplaced trust, mentor relationships would prove to be a bit much for me.
The word “mentor” usud to meet me with a polite smile and the view of my back as I respectfully walked away.
Fast forward from this little trip down memory lane… I have now taken the time to do some processing on the topic of mentoring. It seems less like an evil scheme set out for the sole purpose of causing pain and more of a blessing that we get to share life with another. All the better if it includes a cup of coffee or tea.
Matthew 28:19-20, the passage we Believers call The Great Commission” starts with, “Go ye therefore…” Then it says, “into ALL the world.” ALL the world??? The world, in case y’all haven’t looked at a map lately, is rather large. And the crux of the message in this passage is “make disciples”. Ummm… making disciples, to me, sounds a lot like mentoring.
I prefer to think of this scripture as starting with, “As you go…” I will As I live my life. As I go about my day. Thinking of it in this way releases the pressure off of me to do it all and allows me to go about my life caring, sharing and doing what Jesus has for me to do.
I cannot possibly go into all the world. But I can go into my world. (tweet this)
I know that mentoring programs can be good. They can be. My heart, however, often tells me otherwise. So where’s the balance between the head and the heart when it comes to mentoring?
I’m glad you asked.
The balance for me comes in knowing that I can mentor AS I GO. It doesn’t have to be forced. While mentoring will take purposeful intention, it doesn’t need to involve rigid structure.
Mentoring simply requires two hearts that are open to sharing life together. (tweet this)
Isn’t that what Jesus did? As He went… into His world… he hung out with people who wanted to hang out with Him and He made disciples. He came alongside people to show them the Way.
In my pondering and processing, I’ve come to realize that all those years of sitting around my parent’s table, I was actually being mentored. I opened my heart ears and listened to those older and wiser than me tell stories of bravery and tales of tragedy which often boasted a fish story-like triumph. I learned about grieving and loving and living life around the table. In all of those years of tales and tears, I found my way closer to Jesus. And all those years of me being mentored around the table prepared me to do the same.
I appreciate how Sue’s book puts my anxious heart to rest suggesting that mentoring can be organic, fluid, ongoing, not forced. It doesn’t even require a table! I appreciate that she eludes to the fact that God will direct us to who we should mentor if we will be open to His prompting. I appreciate that she encourages me to make disciples in my world as I go.
What do you think about mentoring? Being mentored? Have you, like me, had less than stellar experiences with it? Would you be open to being a mentor? If not, what would it take to change your mind?
With an international move in our near future and settling into a new neighborhood, I will be taking what I learn from Sue’s book and seeing how it can impact my relationships. I will “table mentor” as I go. I urge you to check out Sue’s book and let God take you down a simple path of mentoring. I truly think it will be a worthwhile journey. And hey, take someone with you!
If you order Table Mentoring through Sue’s website, welcomeheart.com, use the code mentoring15 to receive 15% off your purchase. This coupon code is good through September 10, 2017. If you prefer Amazon, order here. (but no 15% discount).
“Grab a book or two, read through it, and get ready to experience the powerful impact of table mentoring!” ~Kelly Smith, MrsDisciple.com
If I can’t convince you to purchase this book, I think my friend, Kelly, might be able to. Check out her blog post, here.
super post, andrea, and thanks for your honest sharing. mentoring is not all sweetness and light but always worth it. I look forward to hearing how God fills your table in your new home and neighborhood!
Thank you, Sue! Congrats on the book launch. I know its blessings will be far reaching.
You make me proud. I have always felt like sharing family meals is one of the best things a family can do. That doesn’t happen much theses days because everybody eats at different times and different places. That’s a really meaningful article.
Thank you, Mom! This means a lot to me.