4 KEY INDICATORS YOU MIGHT NEED A BREAK FROM MENTORING
How do you know when you should take a break from mentoring?
Mentoring others is one of the most central callings of any disciple, and especially of any spiritual leader, who follows Jesus. But, sometimes, we just need a break.
Mentoring relationships take time, energy, resources, and commitment, and sometimes we need to create space for our ourselves to recharge, regroup, and retool in order to renewed and refreshed for the next season of mentoring ahead.
1. Know Your Emotions
2. Welcome Counsel
3. Redirect Your Energies
4. Take The Long View
1ST INDICATOR – KNOW YOUR EMOTIONS
Know your emotions.
There are many leaders today who are disconnected from their own emotional state.
Self-awareness and self-care both empower us to live the selfless life that Jesus calls us to live – in a sustainable and lasting way.
Knowing our own emotional state as the days of our lives pass by takes time and reflection.
I personally recommend a Daily Examen for the ongoing evaluation of our feelings, and the repetitive delivering of them into the hands of God.
Doing a spiritual rhythm like the Examen requires only:
1) a capacity to sit still in the presence of God for a period of time
2) a willingness to embrace silence as a space where we can hear the noise going on in our hearts and minds
3) a desire to become the type of leader who is constantly aware of how one’s inner life is impacting one’s outer actions.
When your emotions are spent, you need to take a break from mentoring. When you’ve lost your capacity to give because your energies have been spent externally instead of being invested internally, you need to take a break.
This is a vital idea in spiritual formation, that sometimes the best thing we can do as a spiritual leader is to take a break from our mentoring or discipleship relationships.
That break is not intended to be permanent or complete. Rather you are creating space to regroup, to retool, and to get your perspective back.
You may need to renegotiate the terms of current mentoring relationships to effectively continue them later.
You aren’t able to give out of what you don’t have within; it is the ultimate in overspending.
You taking a break enhances the gift you are for everyone who is mentored by you – both now and in the future.
2ND INDICATOR – WELCOME COUNSEL
Welcome counsel from those you trust.
The voices of friends who know and celebrate our greatness, and yet who also understand our messes, should be right next to us at all times speaking into our lives.
Encourage those you trust to let you know what they’re seeing in your life and habits. Try this experiment. Send an email to 20 friends, co-workers, family members, and acquaintances. Put all the names in the BCC field so they can ’t see all the other email addresses, and so when they reply they will only be replying to you.
You’re going to ask them to be brutally honest, and to give you some help in your self-awareness.
Ask something like:
“What 3 things do you see in me that I could improve on? I only need you to be honest, and you won’t hurt my feelings. I want to grow, and I need your help. Tell me what you see, and don’t hold back. I’ll take this away with me on a personal retreat, and use it to help me grow into the next season God has for me.”
Are your energies being drained by other areas of your life that need some attention? Are you overworking, over- achieving, or attempting to impress people to get some inner validation?
In your mentoring relationships, we need to be giving out of the depths of who we are – and this will be what inspires and encourages our mentees.
If you find yourself unable to give at this level, others who know you will see it and note it.
Their responses will give you welcome indicators you can use to motivate you to renegotiate the time you spend developing yourself that you might have spent developing others.
3RD INDICATOR – REDIRECT YOUR ENERGIES
Redirect your energies.
When it is time to take a break, know that God is not only calling you to step back from mentoring and discipling people – He’s actually calling you to engaging in something new.
And what is that? He’s calling you to come away with Him. He’s calling you to a fresh passion, purpose, and mission. He’s calling you to awaken to your present and our future, and to where He is going and what He is doing around us in our family, ministry, work, and world.
Redirect your energy to focus on the unique place God has for you in His story. He is using you to nurture your family and your community, just as much as He is using you in ministry (or more).
My wife always reminds me that my children don’t need a worship leader – they need a Dad. And my spouse doesn’t need a pastor; she needs a husband and a life partner.
How does that reminder apply to you, right now?
Check the sites on your life-scope, and aim again at the things that matter most.
If we don’t learn to harness and redirect our energies, aided by the help of the Holy Spirit, we will spend our energies wildly (and often on the wrong things for the wrong reasons) and eventually have a breakdown.
Break through before you break down – learn to redirect your energies wisely.
4TH INDICATOR – TAKE THE LONG VIEW
Take the long view.
Your life is a long story unfolding. Just because you are not intensely working with people for a season does not mean that God will be displeased or that you are outside of His will.
You may just need to take a break and step back. One month, six months, or even one year, compared to a lifetime of activity, is a very small investment to keep yourself renewed, encouraged, and energized for the next run.
Yes, sometimes God is saying “Step into it; I want to develop you in the midst of all your activity.” But sometimes God is telling you to press pause on your current level of engagement, activity, and emotional output.
He does this to partner with us in the development of our interior spiritual life, so that we are in a constant state of recognizing that – above being a mentor or spiritual leader – we are a beloved and treasured child of God.
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