(I’m excited to share another guest post with you this week for #WIMWednesday! This week’s post comes from one of my daughters in the faith, Lyndsie Williams. Lyndsie traveled with me as I prepared for my work in Paris and now she works with us there!)
I met Kelly when I was 19 years old. I had just finished my freshman year of university and was invited to play bass at a conference where she was leading worship. Going into college I loved God, but was very burnt out on church. I had also begun meeting people who were just as sure in their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, as I was in my Christian faith, challenging some of my core beliefs. When I met Kelly I learned that she and I had similar backgrounds: both pastor’s kids, both pretty independent, and we both had lots of questions. However, she had a confidence in Christ in the midst of her questions that I wanted, so I asked her if we could hang out more. I wanted to know if she could mentor me. I figured that someone who was unafraid to acknowledge real questions about God and church, but also someone who believed so passionately in the person of Jesus and His church, was someone I wanted to be like.
If you’re in a season of life where you are seeking a mentor, you may find these tips helpful. Here are five things I learned about finding and building a healthy relationship with the mentors in my life:
1. Ask God to connect you with the right person.
About a month before I met Kelly, I asked the Lord to bring someone into my life to help me as I wrestled with questions about my faith. Little did I know, she had been praying God would bring someone in her life that she could mentor. God loves us and loves connecting us with people to help us know him more.
2. Look for a safe person.
Before I let Kelly know everything about my life, I wanted to know if she was safe. Each time we talked I would let her know a little more about me to see how she would respond. Would she react in anger, or disappointment when I shared a doubt or struggle? No, so I shared a little more. Was she threatened when I disagreed with her point of view? No, so I shared more. Was she excited about my dreams and the gifts God had placed in my life? Yes, so I shared even more. Kelly encouraged me to run to Jesus with my questions and doubts. She didn’t shame me or claim to have all of the answers. Bottom line, if your mentor allows you to be completely yourself, mess and all, and they point you to Jesus, you’ve found a safe mentor.
3. Find someone that you can have a good time with.
As much as I remember many road trips filled with serious conversations, I also remember even more conversations where I was laughing until I cried. I love Kelly because not only is she wise, but she’s normal, and one of the funniest people I know. By normal, I mean that she doesn’t over-spiritualize everything, and likes to have fun. On one of our trips to West Virginia, Kelly decided that instead of going to church Sunday night we would go find a place to overlook the mountains. Being from Indiana, I rarely have the chance to see mountains, and it was a so special for me to spend time with my friend in such a beautiful place.
4. Respect their time.
If you see success in another person’s life, it usually means they have put in long hours of hard work to achieve their success. Kelly and I lived about two hours apart when we met, and she traveled on the weekends. I knew that if I wanted to spend time with her, it was my job to make that work – she was not going to be available to drive to see me all of the time. I made the effort to drive down to meet her and then join her on her fundraising trips. I learned to set up her table in the back. I became part of what she was doing in exchange for her time. As much as your mentor loves you, you are a piece of their very busy life. Remember they are sacrificing time to invest in you and you will need to take the initiative to go see them when they are available.
5. Open yourself to change and correction.
Having a mentor sounds like loads of fun until they start to see the sides of yourself you try to hide from them. I had the rare experience of living with my mentor for a short period of time when I first moved to France. After a few weeks, Kelly gently pointed out (safe person) that I had an issue with not controlling my emotions well (usually anger). At first, I was embarrassed, mad and defensive. I mean who was she? She didn’t know why I was angry. I had a right to be angry. Truth is, she knew me and loved me enough to know I was hurting. She challenged me to forgive those who had hurt me. She knew that by forgiving others I’d have more joy, and I would be able to love other people the way I said I wanted to love them. Inviting someone to hold you accountable is not always comfortable. It requires you to be silent when you want to speak, and humbly admitting to mistakes when you don’t get it right. The good news is that if you have a safe mentor, you can trust they love you through the mistakes. I’ve found that the most uncomfortable conversations are the ones God uses to bring out the most growth my life.
Because of leaders who have generously invested in my life, I have a deeper confidence in Christ’s grace and love. Allowing mentors to speak into my life has also given me a deeper appreciation of the power and beauty that is the body of Christ.
Lyndsie Williams is 24 years old and lives in Paris, France. She currently works for The Bridge International Church and is passionate about creating communities where people experience the love of Christ through the love His people. On her day off, you would most likely find her having coffee with a friend, exploring a new part of Paris, or escaping to the solitude of the woods.