Reflections On Mentoring | Roy R. Matheson, Th.D.
From time to time I have been approached by another person and asked if I would mentor them. Often I have responded positively and an interesting journey has begun. Just as often, for a variety of reasons, I have declined the invitation. Since it requires a significant time investment from both mentor and mentee, I want to be assured that the investment of time is a worthwhile and productive one for both of us. I normally have three questions in my mind when I meet with a prospective person. Firstly, I want to know if we can work effectively together, second I need to find out what they are looking for from me and thirdly whether I have what they need. These were the questions in my mind when I first met with Barry Taylor from Trulls Road Free Methodist Church.
The first question has to do with compatibility and chemistry. It does not mean the one being mentored must be a clone of the mentor and in many cases it works well if the personalities are quite different. The first time Barry and I met I sensed quickly that this was a man I would like to spend time with and that anything I could offer would be a good investment. Our personalities are not the same but that has proven to be a good thing. I think of three men who acted as mentors to me long before the term mentor was even in use. They were all quite different in personality from me but my life and ministry were greatly enhanced by the time and effort they gave me.
The second question is what they are looking for from me. If someone needs help in the area of music and worship leading I would not be the one. Barry explained he was looking for input in help in his work as a pastor. I have a heart for such ministry and felt I might have something to contribute. Sometimes when people do not know what they are looking for, the relationship is less profitable.
The third question is whether I have something to offer and contribute. I was asked to be a mentor by someone who is a friend and with whom I enjoy having lunch with from time to time. I declined because he needed help in an area where others were better equipped than me to give the direction he needed. Barry and I have met regularly for almost two years. The issues he faces in ministry are similar if not identical to those I have faced in ministering for 27 years in the same church.
Has our relationship been a successful one? Barry is the one who must ultimately answer that. From my perspective it has been time well spent and I trust it will be beneficial for his life and ministry.
Rev. Dr. Roy Matheson is the former Senior Pastor and currently serving as Theologian in Residence at Chartwell Baptist Church in Oakville, ON.
Help along the way | Barry Taylor
I have a confession to make. It is one of those difficult statements to make in a day and age when people are crying out for good leadership. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t get all the answers right. A few years back when a friend was telling me of a leadership training program and one of the tenants was a mentor I was quite excited. The thought of having someone with greater knowledge and more experience in ministry come alongside and offer up guidance seemed like a huge burden lifter to me.
We all have those times where we are coping well with the work and doing fine. Then there are times when a situation or series of events occurs and you are at a loss to know the next steps to take. Having a mentor for me meant having a sounding board of sound judgement. I know that I am an exception to the rule. All of you other leaders out there have things well in hand and don’t need any assistance. Uh huh! Rrright.
I have been meeting with Dr. Roy Matheson for the past couple years now. He has been available to offer up guidance and support, to pray with me and for me. He has been able to resource me through so many different and difficult situations. We get together every four to six weeks for a few hours. Often the agenda is set by the current stressors in my ministry or needs that I seek counsel on.
Only a few weeks ago we were able to share a travel experience together. The Trulls Road Free Methodist Church has been partnering with the Free Methodist Church in India, specifically the Hyderabad Mission District. We had a trip planned in August 2006, to go and teach the FM pastors in Hyderabad about emotional healing and deliverance. This is an area of teaching that Roy is familiar with. (Roy teaches a Spiritual Warfare course at Tyndale.) I was asking for his input and in passing joked “Maybe you should just come with me and teach the course?” To which Roy responded with an “Okay.”
It’s one thing to meet someone once a month for a few hours, and talk with them on the phone and through email. It’s another story altogether to spend 12 days together in another country. My appreciation of him has grown. I mean come on 12 days with me. I can earnestly say that I thank God for Roy. He has been a significant influence on me.
One of the Free Methodist Bishops commented on this. “Several years ago a Free Methodist pastor would have never asked a Baptist pastor to come and teach together. The church has truly changed. (For the better.)” I smiled at the comment because so much more is spent in our conversation not about side issues and rabbit trails but about the core issues and vital subjects. We may joke on occasion about our denominational differences (how Free Methodists are so much more enlightened: and how both of us can’t dance – although I could sell you a picture from India of a Baptist pastor if you are interested.) but those topics don’t often come into discussion.
Roy is committed to seeing people grow in their walk with Christ. When we talk about what are calling as leaders this is what it is about. In all of this I feel that we as followers of Christ are to be about the task of journeying with people. The call to make disciples means that we need to share in relationships and sharing sound teaching. This can be counter to some busy professionals thinking. “I’ve got enough to do without another meeting.” I have benefited greatly from my relationship with my mentor. It has also meant that I have now begun to connect regularly with someone else to help them in their journey with Christ. I still don’t have all the answers but I have a much better sense of where I am headed and how I am to get there. I also see that just as I need help I can help others along the way.