What do we mean by spiritual mentoring?
The focus of spiritual mentoring is to help people pay attention to what God is doing in their lives and to respond. It is not “directing” others in the sense of imposing an agenda on them and telling them what to do. Rather it is meant to be friends, who listen deeply, and who may point out what God is doing and help them discern God’s agenda.
In this busy and distracted world one of the oldest, most important, and most difficult spiritual disciplines is simply being attentive. Jesus told his followers to ‘give your full attention to what God is doing right now.’ (Matthew 6:33 in The Message) If the stress of being over-busy is one reason spiritual mentoring matters, the need for safety and security is another.
Every leader is to some degree a lonely person, often trying to keep on in the midst of conflict, criticism, and the inner voices of doubt and discouragement, with all the temptations common to our human condition. For those in ministry leadership the stress is magnified by fear of letting others know what we are going through. The temptation is to pretend everything is ok when it’s really not, to automatically respond “fine” when asked how we are, when we may feel we are dying inside.
Years ago Leighton heard a memorable talk by Presbyterian pastor Walt Gerber pointing out that Jesus our Lord had safe times (alone with his Father), safe places (like the hills), and safe people (like his friends Mary and Martha and Lazarus in their home) to which he would retreat from pressure and crowds. Safe times. Safe places. Safe people. These too can be provided, by God’s grace, in a mentoring community that offers circles of trust.
These mentoring connections happen through personal conversations and group retreats offered by Leighton and other of our mentors. Interested in starting a new mentoring community? See the Proposal Form here.
Leadership like the Aspen Tree
Leighton was invited to consult with Duke Divinity School about Christian Leadership. This link will take you to an interview (video & transcript) about the often-used metaphor of Leighton Ford Ministries: “Leadership like the aspen tree.” LFM extends a special thank you to Duke’s Faith and Leadership for their current initiative and encouraging website!
The Mentoring Community
We mentor so as to enhance the spiritual, emotional, and relational health of ministry leaders – with a focus on the whole person.
Jesus’ great commandment (and promise) was that we should love the Lord our God with our whole person – all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27).
Many kinds of mentoring can be helpful – some focused on career, some on personal development, coaching on professional and organizational skills. LFM’s spiritual mentoring has a dual emphasis – on ministry and on the personal and spiritual health of the leader. Mentoring needs to be both inwardly and outwardly focused. Without the inward focus ministry can lose its cutting edge; without the outward focus life can become too introspective.
It has become clear to Leighton across the years that what God is doing in the career of leaders so closely relates to what he is doing in their character. So we need to be attentive to see how the “inner” and “outer” threads of their lives intertwine, as in one of the lovely Celtic cords.