Visiting Kansas City this past weekend (in preparation for the big transition) brought so much joy. It was a welcome home, a transition redeemed. I will never forget the warm hugs and friendly faces and sweet words.
Really, the feeling was bigger and better than as-if-I’d-never-left. As bitter as my departure from Lafayette will be, returning to KC this Friday will be sweet.
While visiting this weekend, I drove past many familiar places. My old loft, my old workplace, favorite coffee shops and ice cream shops and bars and restaurants. Treasured neighborhoods and friends’ homes. Church. My heart swelled with excitement at the thought of returning to these.
But then the location where I’d been a volunteer? My heart sank.
A little background: During my first stint in KC, I volunteered as a leader with a para-church high school ministry. Entrusted to my care were some precious, witty, beautiful high school women. I was charged with leading their small group, spending time in community with them and mentoring them.
Our interactions were meaningful. I still hold every conversation, every ice cream cone, every cup of coffee so near to my heart. They opened my eyes and my heart.
And, in spite of the joyful moments, I have much regret.
I know I could have served them better. (And I’m not trying to be fake-humble; I really, honestly could have served them better.)
I felt overwhelmed and uncertain and anxious. Honestly? When they stopped calling and texting, I also stopped. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t given up. I wish I had pursued them with energy and enthusiasm.
Had I mentored them differently, I could have loved them better.
I trust that God used me, as weak and floppy of a mentor as I was. And I no longer beat myself up about this. But I hope to improve my abilities as a mentor, so I’m ready the next time I’m in a situation where I might make an impact.
Enter Elisa Pulliam. She is a woman with a big heart. And though I only know her through the inter-webs, I’ve felt her hand in my life.
She recently wrote the e-book Impact My Life, which aims to simplify and beautify the mentoring experience.
When she announced the book’s launch, I felt simply compelled to read. If only I’d had such a book, I said to myself, when I was charged with loving those young women.
My favorite passage in the entire book arrived in Chapter 22. It’s the crux of mentoring, the crux of a strong and solid and purposeful relationship:
The people you love don’t need you as much as they need Jesus. You simply need to live each moment, humbly and boldly giving off the aroma of Christ because of your deep, authentic and life transforming personal relationship with your Redeemer (2 Corinthians 2:15). While serving tea may be the key to cultivating a warm and inviting setting for your mentorees to open up, it is truly the cross that holds the key to their heart and opens the door for them to experience life transformed.
Impact My Life is both practical and inspirational. The book tackles everything from common misconceptions and excuses (“But I’m too young!” and “But I’d be a hypocrite!” and “But I lack wisdom!”) to the facets of a good mentoring relationship (what meetings might look like, how to encourage growth and much more).
I’m in no formal mentoring relationship right now, and this book was immensely helpful. For those in leadership roles — think: small group leaders, community leaders, etc. etc. — it would be even more so.
Through Impact My Life, my coulda-been-better mentoring experience is being redeemed. Thankful for that.
So as I transition back to KC, I’m praying about where God might use me. I’ll still make mistakes. I’ll still trip over my own two feet. But when the next mentoring opportunity arises, I think I’ll face it feeling empowered instead of overwhelmed. And not because of me and what I can do, but because of God and what He can do. And I can’t wait.
(Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this e-book free of charge, but the opinions and thoughts expressed are mine alone. Photo is a screen shot taken from the e-book’s cover. And Elisa is a friend, but I’m just posting about this book because I liked it.)