Matt and Jan

My last post was about Young Clergywomen and the need for women mentors.

Mentoring between genders might seem fraught with extraneous issues, and it’s true that choosing a mentor is not something you can just do.  The Spirit has a hand in putting people together.

But I see a new model of mentoring for the 21st Century Church.

Meet Matt and Jan (that would be me.)  Matt and I worked together in a parish for a couple of years and it was a great experience in terms of dual-mentoring.  Matt was in his late 20s at the time.  I was old enough to be his mom.  He had a degree in economics and was a renaissance man in terms of technology, legal documents (!), social media, spiritual gifts, and apostolic church.  I was what some might call “a seasoned pastor.”  I graduated from seminary in the 80s and had been ordained in a mainline denomination for over 20 years.

Matt often introduced me to people as his “boss.”  And my response was an awkward “He’s sort of like my boss too.”

The truth is that we mentored each other.  I might talk about the importance of loving people whose spiritual practices he didn’t understand.  He would hand me a book to read.  I asked him to pick out the church’s new copy machine because he would know what’s out there in terms of cool bells and whistles.  He would ask me if we could take a group to the next emerging church event.  I would share an interesting article from Alban.  He would share his copy of Relevant.  He might tell me about a new church management software.  I might teach him how to do a Hebrew word study online.

It was fun.

Ministry can be exasperating, angina-inducing,  and spiritually exhausting, but God wants us to have fun as well.  Especially in these shape shifting days of God’s church, it’s important that we mentor each other:  men and women, younger generations and older generations, institutional and not-institutional disciples.

How do we do it?  I have a couple of thoughts on what makes c0-mentoring thrive:

– Both sides need to be willing to give up “the power” – especially the older seasoned leader.  To My Older Pastor Colleagues:  You don’t know everything.  It’s okay.

– Don’t lord over each other what we know.  (Yes, you can read Greek.  Hurrah.  So, you do Prezi.  Good for you.)  Don’t roll our eyes when someone asks “a stupid question” (Who is this Walter Bruggemann?  What’s a PDF?)

– You have to trust each other.  There can be no possibility of sabotage, jealousy, or one-upspersonship.  You are on the same team.

– Every church should have someone on staff (who is not only working with youth) to offer leadership in ministry.

My life was positively changed forever by working with Matt.  And that’s what a mentor does.

I hope that you, too, get to have this in your ministry.



3 responses to “Matt and Jan

  1. It’s the cross-generational/gender-boundary thing that’s so very essential in mentoring. If we enter into a relationship assuming we already know what we’re going to learn from a person, and that’s just going to reinforce the “self” we already know, we’re not really opening ourselves up to be taught. If we’re looking for connections or the imprimatur of a “name” that is already known, we’re not gettin’ it, either.

    Personally, I’ve struggled to find this in a sustained way with other pastors. Whenever I’ve tried to connect outside of the structures of our polity, I find they’re just too busy. Maybe it’s just me.

    But I’ve consistently found this within the congregation. You can learn a whole bunch when you’re really connecting with an older saint of the church, or really listening to that bright eyed kid who’s always full of questions.

  2. incredible post Jan and not just cos i think Matt is sexy – love that guy and wish we got to spend more time together – but really enjoyed your story and the keys at the end [pastors, you don’t know everything – that’s okay!] aw man. i think obviously when it’s cross gender you need to be careful [atho any mentoring/counselling relationship needs care to avoid things like codependence etc etc so just be wise and careful and keep God central] but you are right that so much richness can be gained by a different perspective and journey… really like this… keep on!
    [nice beard!]

  3. Pingback: One of My Favorite Cultural Shifts | achurchforstarvingartists

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