Learning and Mentoring

Posted on May 21, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

Among the advice we continue to receive in transitioning to “retirement” is to stay active physically and mentally. We have also been encouraged to continue to be lifelong learners. We had a uniquely stimulating training experience last week attending a Mentoring Workshop at the facilities of World Venture in Denver, Colorado. Led by an international team of consultants for personal and leadership development with Operation Mobilization, participants were led through several days of insightful presentations and simulated exercises.

Why would we be attending such training at this stage of life? Certainly, we consider ourselves to have been involved in mentoring and being mentored most of our lives. I still relish all I learned about church planting in Indonesia on the back of the motorcycle of Fred Beck and Von Worten. In leadership on the mission field I sought to train and mentor new missionaries and national partners. We have covered the spectrum of training from spiritual disciplines to financial management and strategic planning.

Whereas training can be interactive, it is usually more directive and designed to develop certain skills. Discipleship is somewhat of a mentoring process, but too often it is information-based, couched in a program of what to do and how to do it rather than something that is relational. Now that we have moved beyond career positions and professional organizational roles, we are sensing a growing opportunity to contribute to the personal development of others through intentional informal relationships.

We can think of many who influenced our lives, not through formal programs, but by walking alongside, taking an interest in us and modeling what we aspired to become. Some were an image of spiritual maturity and effective service we wanted to emulate. Others shared tips on time management, financial stewardship, the importance of core values and goal-setting. I’m grateful for college and seminary professors who went beyond the classroom to give guidance and counsel. I am indebted to mission leaders who saw leadership potential in me and provided opportunities to nurture and develop those attributes.

Our workshop gave us insights into the mentoring process and, while sharing out of own pilgrimage and experiences, guiding others to greater self-awareness and identifying the tools for personal growth and effective service. We are gratified in the opportunity we are having to mentor others sensing God’s call in the process toward missionary service. Our realm of new acquaintances seem to include several who are hungry for a deeper, more meaningful walk with the Lord. Questions coming from church staff and leaders of mission organizations indicate a desire for help in juggling a multitude of responsibilities while providing effective leadership and avoiding burn-out.

We are not sure what God will bring our way in the future, but He has blessed us with a wealth of experience and insight that can be useful to others. What a privilege to be able to invest in those who come behind that they might realize their full potential for God’s glory. Some of the lessons learned in our workshop will be immediately useful as Bobbye departs this week to work with pastors’ wives in Moldova and we serve as consultants to personnel with Antioch International Ministries this summer.

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