As a follow up to my recent post on flexibility, there is a need to talk about adaptability too. Adaptability is different but also exceedingly important.
Adaptability is a gift that allows some individuals to respond with their changing environment. Plans may take a different shape and alter at a moments notice, this is when the team leader requires the skill of adapting. It is not every leader who has this ability but every good team has an individual with this ability. It prevents the project from grinding to a halt, it stops hurdles remaining as a permanent stumbling block and it is the ability to ‘find a way’.
If you are on a route for which there are no roadmaps, you need someone on your team who is adaptable….if you do not have that individual, then it may be wise to find them, before it is too late.
We may never know the influence that we really have, we may never know what impact the words we have uttered will bring into the lives of other individuals. There is something extraordinary in the way we can bring influence to bear, even better when that influence is for good.
A few years back, I was privileged to hear the story of a young man who had grown in wisdom and stature with his home church. Now a leader, he sought me out to share a few things about his life and the direction that he was now pursuing. It was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. At the end of a bible study programme, he had spoken with me and apparently the words I said, long since forgotten by me (but not him), challenged him to action and a course that would enable his creativity to live. I had no idea….
This week, I spoke with a former work colleague. He shared that I had been influential in his life and that he had considered me to be a mentor during his time in the organisation. I had no idea….
The life you live, the words that you say, the influence you may have may be powerful beyond your lifetime. You just never know the influence that you may be having on the people around you, the changes people are making because you are present….your life, your ways….they are influential, you need to start believing it and acting on it. Make your words a tool for the good, a positive force for others and as you do so, change the world!
Influence…you just never know…
Listening to another conversation, it has been interesting to overhear quite a diverse opinion of what was meant by mentoring. Mentoring, coaching, supervision, training and development were all used interchangeably to mean the same thing – what was meant by the individuals was vastly different. It will be interesting to see how the action points are noted 😉
Unfortunately, I have forgotten which book these first quotes came from – will try and recover those details and will amend
“A mentor is an acknowledged expert who is able to share experiences, past successes and failings in a manner that builds trust”
“Mentoring is an experience, not a destination”
“Recognise behaviours as well as results”
“Recognition is inexpensive – lack of recognition can be costly”
“People must be taught how to think, not what to think” – Margaret Mead
A few years back I took on a private mentoring project – the organisation that employed me felt it was not financially viable even though the project fit in with its aims and objectives. It was something that excited me and so took on the idea to run with it.
I met with lots of people, became rather excited, put lots down on paper and mentored a group of young people one-to-one. That side worked well and was a real encouragement. However, the most important development never quite progressed in the way it was intended. It was a course for training adults to have confidence in mentoring young people from different types of background – the course outlines and practical engagement were fine but somehow it did not click. Some people registered for “the course” but they had no desire to be good youth mentors, their intent was a piece of paper to say they had done some mentoring. Two years later and it still niggles me that we never quite completed what was started or envisaged – you feel as if you failed and let people down and that still wrangles with me. To those who supported the idea, thank you for believing in me, sorry that we never quite delivered.
Should I let go of the dream? No! That is not an option – today all my material is handed to someone else and trust that it is useful to set them up to ‘finish the race’ and complete what was started. Today the old dreams are handed on and my part is finished.
The phrase “sitting in the stairwell” from Marko’s Youth Ministry 3.0 has sat with me for some time now. It is a challenge to find those places in which we can sit, ready to serve. Looking for those places has led me to think of those people that have ‘sat in the stairwell’ on my behalf, those people that have chosen to place themselves in a place of service, those who have given me time and space, those that have been as a friend.
A few years back, I left a job that was special. It was one that had its challenges but the momentum was all forward and there were many positive results. There was the usual politics, but that goes for any role we have, and things were looking good for the future, despite various challenges on the table. However, during a long season where the politics, hurdles and personal things came together in an unnatural way, I chose to leave. My spiritual life was crumbling as the circumstances battered the fragile shell of mine – there was no alternative. No-one questioned my decision (to my face anyway) and I believed that there would be people to help me re-form my spiritual life as these were my friends. Unfortunately, it was not that easy and those I relied upon became too busy.
I entered a wilderness, yet one man whose path crossed my own chose to ‘sit in my stairwell’. In the 18 months that followed he spoke few words, he spent little time with me, but he provided me with everything I needed. He welcomed me into his tribe, he engaged my family, let me know he was there, encouraged involvement at my own pace and demonstrated that he understood my struggles. During this time, spiritual life returned and balance of life returned. I owe him a great debt as he was willing to sit in a place that my friends did not – that type of thing cannot be bought.
My friend has since moved on to new pastures but our paths crossed again the other week. It was a privilege to share with him in ministry and over lunch had an opportunity to thank him for sitting in my stairwell.
My friend has mentored me – albeit in an unusual way – and now I am looking for the opportunities to do the same for others.
The last few days I have chosen to revisit Marko’s book Youth Ministry 3.0. It is an easy read but provides great food to fill up on and a challenge to move forward. If you have not read it yet, go buy it and sit in a coffee shop, it will be worthwhile.
The discussions that were quite lively have died down a little and there is less ‘euphoria’ over what was written, maybe because we have settled back into our contentment as we recognise that some of our YM 2.0 ways still work and therefore the cost of moving ahead into new ways is too great a burden to bear.
Here in the UK, the youth ministry scene is slightly dfifferent to the USA and it is my belief that we may be a little ahead of our friends from over the pond, however, the principles still stand. The book continues to deliver for me, even missed my stop on the tube as I was so engrossed again, therefore a second read was essential.
So what reflections after a 2nd reading months later? For me the challenge is the timing. We are in transition between the YM 2.0 and YM 3.0 mindset and the culture we dwell in is also split. Yes, youth culture is ahead of the game, this is not news, but the way the world around us deals with such things is also divided. I believe youth culture adapts to this better than the adults do – but there are some young people who are themselves in the second era. Look at the difference in rural and urban settings, the young people are worlds apart in terms of culture, even in the UK! But that is the beauty of YM 3.0 – it covers both bases, it gives room to work and a freedom to try new things, fail sometimes, laugh and cry, as well as permission to break a mould that some of us may be trapped in.
The challenge of adapting to the changing mindset will require sacrifice and time – my dream is that there will be plenty of us who are prepared to pay the price and give it the time. I, for one, am willing ‘to sit in the stairwell that leads to the youth culture underground‘ and play my part. Am trusting that others will sit with me and that we can support one another through this wonderful time in the history of God’s world.