The Courage to Connect
by Jayme Hull
Have you ever found yourself surrounded by people . . . but completely alone? It’s hard to exactly put into words, but I wonder if you’ve felt it, too—an ache for more that you just can’t seem to shake.
I’ve lived in five different states, changed zip codes nine times plus packed and unpacked boxes too many times to count. You see, I lived in New York City during my college years at New York University. Since I was from a small little country town in Pennsylvania, I loved to escape the cement sidewalks by taking strolls through Central Park. An Italian artist, Tatinana Trouve, identified 212 unique pathways throughout Central Park. No matter which path you take, it’s always best to take along a friend for your own safety. I’ve always been searching for safe, trusted people to do life with throughout each season of my life, especially on all of my moving adventures from state to state.
“Gosh, change is harder than I thought!” Sometimes, I couldn’t tell which way was up. I needed wisdom. How do I know what to do?
A Barna Survey stated: Nearly one in three people in their twenties and one in five in their thirties relocate to a different city or state every year . . . often away from the support of extended family and longtime friends. More than half of the people surveyed in one study felt they didn’t have a strong support system.
Can anyone relate?
My life of loneliness and discouragement began to change when I was finally connected with a mentor and friend. She helped me work through my loneliness and find a new community each time I moved. It’s amazing how change exposes our true selves. It reminds us of how vulnerable we are—how much we need God and other people. It gives us courage to reach out for support rather than trying to do life alone.
Mentoring is not a formula or a checklist; it’s a relationship.
I believe that the single most important influence in your life is not what degree you pursue, what job you take, or who you date . . . but who is pouring into your life and shaping you. A mentor.
Just to clarify, a mentor is someone further along in her walk with God than you are, who sees your potential and walks with you in becoming the person God created you to be. A mentor is a great listener, guide and a confidante who offers honest feedback, and spiritual encouragement as you navigate daily life. A mentor won’t be scared off by your messiness and questions. This is a person who can help you figure out this thing called life.
A mentor helps you identify and maximize your strengths and giftedness, uncover your calling and passions, and flesh out the day-to-day reality of following Jesus. This intentional, life-giving, face-to-face relationship holds profound influence in developing you as a follower of Christ.
Be encouraged, it’s not only possible to connect with a mentor, it’s critical in order to become the best you. The heartbeat of a mentoring relationship is to connect you with God and other believers, people you can trust with the deepest parts of your story. Believers who will walk with you through the fog of confusion and the mire of disappointment. Believers who will be there to celebrate God’s goodness and provision in your life and will challenge you to dig deep and unearth the calling and passions God has placed inside you.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
I am convinced there is no better or safer place to be than talking out our greatest dreams and deepest fears with a trusted mentor. If you truly want to grow, you need another person to allow you to voice what’s in your heart without criticizing.
Many heroes of the faith walked through life with a mentor: Joshua had Moses, Joseph had Jacob, Esther had Mordecai, Ruth had Naomi, Timothy had Paul, Mary had Elizabeth, and Paul had Barnabas. In the book of Titus chapter two, God commands the older men and women to teach and guide the younger generations. God mentions it again in many other Bible verses to confirm His instructions to those who are following after Him.
Maybe you’re a risk-taker by nature—you jump first and think later. Or maybe you like to play it safe and can be paralyzed by the idea of change. No matter what your natural bent, wisdom is needed in navigating transitions. Will you consider seeking a mentoring relationship?
What about you? Whether you need a mentor or need to be a mentor, God is calling all His people to participate in community. Mentoring is as easy as sharing our God stories with others. The world focuses on getting, but mentoring is about giving yourself away—your time, your energy, your passion—so that others can grow and thrive. It’s never too early to build God’s kingdom by mentoring. God has already gone in front of you, paving the way for where He wants to use you.
Don’t get ahead of God. Just open your eyes.
Look. Listen. Notice.
Who is God bringing across your path? How can you pour your life into her?
Did you know that January is Mentoring Awareness Month? My heartbeat is to share the positive message of mentoring to help others be encouraged and live a life full of hope and direction. Who knows? You may already have your mentor right in front of you!
Go ahead. Pray. Walk across the room. Start the short conversation. Ask God to reveal Himself in the conversation and allow the mentoring journey to begin.
May you be brave enough to be vulnerable and strong enough to reach out, and may you meet God in new ways as you connect with Him and a new mentoring relationship this year.
Jayme Hull is an author, speaker and blogger at www.JaymeLeeHull.com. She is passionate about motivating others to invest in mentoring relationships. Shaped by countless mentors over the past, Jayme now has the privilege of mentoring millennial women for the past 35 years. In January, Jayme launches a new 3-day podcast Face To Face Mentoring for Millennials, mentors and interviews with fabulous guests. Her greatest calling is to be a wife, Mom and Gammy to her family in Nashville, TN.
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