If you were at Orange Conference 2014 and heard me speak in the opening session about the “M” word and how it impacted a cross gender conversation in my youth ministry, you may be thinking I’m crazy bringing the elephant into the room again. But I have another “M” in mind–and that last elephant was so heavy that it’s still in the room–what’s it going to hurt dragging another one in to keep the last immovable one company? I think I’ll keep saying “YES” to awkward because that’s where life happens most of the time.
Let’s think about MENTORING.
What does it mean for us to champion and mentor each other in ministry?
Specifically, what does it mean for us to champion and mentor each other across gender in life and in ministry?
Recently, I spent some time with some seminary presidents (all female) and dozens of female senior pastors at a preaching conference. We spent time talking about the person who mentored us most as we developed into leaders and preachers. Most of us had named a man as our most significant mentor. In fact, for the last seven years, I have sat in Dave Ramsey’s office being mentored by him. He has changed and elevated my leadership and abilities in pastoral ministry. (Btw: Dave Rasmey is our executive pastor, not the Financial Peace person)
The boundaries have always been clear and they work as we have grown to TRUST. The level of respect and honor displayed in this relationship is PROOF and it is FUEL. Because there are some (and sadly I was once “some”) who are AFRAID to have a conversation with a leader of the opposite gender in public in FEAR of what anyone might think. The truth: people will always think “something” for as long as we hide the healthy and appropriate relationships that exist.
I believe cross gender mentoring can overcome taboo with the voices of MANY who are able to have relationships with GRACE and TRUST and a track record of FAITHFULNESS. Why not do our best to protect each other, honor each other, fight for each other?
I’m not saying that compromise can’t happen. We all know that it can and that it does. I still would LOVE to obliterate the idea that pastors and leaders have to be only one of two things in cross gender relationships- fearful/paralyzed or arrogant/careless.
There is a TRUSTING/ FAITHFUL/ PERCEPTIVE/ INTUITIVE/ WHOLE-HEARTED/HONORING way. I pray that we could be brave to trust God’s promises. That God is able to do in us so much more, than we could ever ask or think. It’s a relief to know that it’s not our power that changes the game. But God’s.
- Women to Mentor Women
Most in the group named a male as their most significant mentor/ champion in ministry. That’s good! That is not bad. Echoes of #HeForShe have been bursting through the soil and continue to push through for us. I am more than grateful for them. At the same time, the lack of same-gender mentoring relationships has limited our abilities to imagine them at all. Women can’t be afraid of each other, intimidated by each other, or feel like they are getting less-than leadership when a women is our mentor. It says something when we can’t believe in each other. I hope that his continues to change.
- Women To Mentor Men & Men to Mentor Women
- Men & Women to Create Safe Places Where Cross Gender Mentoring Can Thrive
It was nothing for everyone in our circle to say that a male mentored us and championed us. None of us thought it weird, awkward, or questionable. For some it is our sacrificial and heroic husbands. For others it is seminary professors and college educators. Some have coaches and government leaders to thank. These empowering men gave of themselves in healthy within boundaries ways that shaped all of our lives. Can we be bold enough to believe that our voice and influence matters in the lives of men too? Our minds need to be re-wired to be able to imagine this on the flip side. For women to mentor men. And for men to mentor women. It needs to feel normal, because IT IS NORMAL and GOOD.
Participation is our greatest act of belonging. I pray for and support the full participation of both in mentoring relationships. I pray that the church would lead the way in gender empowerment and equality.
In the places where it’s still an issue to support these types of relationships, we step into them full of grace and trust, we don’t hate or ignore or despise differences. We can lean into them with loving communication and motivation to be more about each other than we are about ourselves.
We step into these places with more LISTENING and attentiveness than we ever have before. We ask important questions.We become allies—even in our differences. We don’t deny our brothers and sisters their voice. We respect different places and phases of the journey. At the same time, we reach out for the reality that can be when we begin to SEE. To really see–newly–in transformed and renewed ways.
- What men and women are mentoring you?
- What women and men are you mentoring?
- Have you set up safe spaces for this to be possible?