Who mentored you?
Who are you mentoring?
What leaders have influenced your faith?
How is your leadership influencing faith in others?
This month our blog posts will focus on these questions primarily from the congregational context. We hope to point to some ways in which we can all be more intentional about receiving the wisdom of our our elders, trusting the leadership of our rising leaders, and honoring the younger and less experienced emerging leaders in our midst. We know that the most seasoned amongst us can be resistant to change and frequently long for the past when church was The Thing in the neighborhood. We know that our middle generations feel caught between; wanting to hold to our rich traditions but recognizing that things must change if our faith is to be passed on authentically and purposefully. We know that our youngest members are eager to be taken seriously, and they long for the stories held in the community of personal faith in Jesus Christ, and how it has made a difference in our lives.
Those of us who grew up in the Episcopal Church, who still hold a passion for mission and ministry as Episcopalians, generally can point to some significant mentors who took us seriously as youth; who listened, let us wrestle with our questions of faith, and who encouraged us to take risks for Jesus. Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, reflected on the faithful leaders in her life who helped shape her mission and ministry in her book Lanterns, A Memoir of Mentors (Beacon Press, 1999). When comparing the many individuals from generations throughout her life she noted the following; “What they all had in common was their respectful treatment of me as an important, thinking individual human being.”
Leadership takes many forms and is exercised and embraced in many different ways. Mentoring is sometimes intentional but more often emerges through relationships and stories. Jesus mentored the disciples who answered his call in the heat of the moment through words and actions; parables, stories that illustrated his point, and deeds, that were powerful and of a healing nature. We are called not only to use the stories of the Gospel, but our own stories of faith to help teach others more about their own call in Christ. It is part of the Covenant we are in through our Baptism; continuing in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, in the prayers, resisting evil, repenting, proclaiming the good news, seeking and serving all persons by word and example, serving and loving our neighbors as ourselves, striving for justice and peace, and respecting the dignity of every human being.
So we ask again, does your leadership influence faith in others? Who or what is leading you? Who is mentoring you now? Who are you mentoring?
We’ll be posting a new idea or perspective every five days throughout the month of January. We encourage you to share your stories through the comments feature of the Episcopal Generations blog. We can’t wait to learn from you, too.