Mentoring – Learning for young and old

Conversation | Karen Mitchell Lambert | 21st September 2020

The Pule team are currently prepping for what is on the calendar next year. As we ramp up our suite of YouLEAD training options we realised that for young leaders to truly thrive required great Mentors, who take the learning and help Mentees translate it into their reality.

The conversation began as we explored our development of the YouLEAD Jnr programme for yr 6 – 8 young people. We talked about how we can teach young people how to care for others, run a game, pray or do a reflection but if they are not supported by adults who will trust them to have a go and give them the opportunity to exercise these gifts, the information is quickly forgotten. Not only that but how the young person sees themselves is diminished by an adult’s response to them. I wonder how many of you had thought that young people in yr 6 – 8 were able to offer leadership in these ways? I wonder if you have thought about the leadership children can offer in our church given the opportunity. I’m not talking about singing a song in church or doing a drama an adult has created but giving them the chance the explore the bible reading and work out how they would like to share that with their congregation.

It is easy as adults to underestimate children and young people. I am always surprised that when I sit and talk deeply with children how profoundly they think about faith and what is going on in the world. The key to unlocking this for the Church is through mentors, adults who are willing to invest, trust, give opportunity, see the best self of the young person and help them to unlock it going forward.

The UME vital leadership team are running a series of mentoring workshops for leaders of the church. They shared with me this great Ted X talk by Kam Phillips. I loved her idea of Grandments; Mentees, Mentors and Grandments. The challenge that we are all on the path to learning and that that learning is not meant to be kept for ourselves but shared with others along the way so that eventually we would become Grandments!

In Growing Young, they talk about this as handing over the keys. Walking with young people as they learn, giving them an opportunity to try and then handing things fully over to them when they are able to do it themselves.

Often in the church we either don’t give young people the opportunity to have a go or expect them to just want to take it all on because we don’t want to do it any more. True mentoring is about seeing the young person’s gifts and skills, giving them the tools to grow those and finding places where they can live them out well. It is not about filling gaps, or moving chairs but as Kam says humble respect.

Who is a young person you need to consider mentoring? What are the gifts and skills you have to share? Where are you underestimating a young person’s ability and might need to step back a little?

I think I agree with Kam, Mentorship will change the world and will certainly change the church!

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Karen Mitchell-Lambert is ordained in the ministry of Deacon and is the team leader of PULSE.