What do you listen for?

There is no one-size-fits-all technique for mentoring. So don’t try to squeeze yourself into a mold of how others mentor. Be open to discovering the ways the Spirit has uniquely wired you to pay attention and companion others.

That said, there is much we can learn from other wise people who have walked well with others. VantagePoint3’s founder Randy Reese is one of those wise friends in my life from whom I learned much over the years.

A couple of years before his sudden passing six years ago I asked him on a webinar, As a mentor or spiritual friend to many, Randy, are there certain things you listen for along the way?

Randy responded with these seven things:

  • Who have been helpful or hurtful people in their story?

  • Stories they talk about that surface an unusual amount of emotion in them. All of a sudden you notice they really spiked in anger, or happiness, or sadness.

  • Stories that cause a person to light up or bring joy. When they start talking about certain things, people, situations, topics, their face lights up.

  • Stories of perceived successes, failures, and struggle. Pay attention to when they share those stories. Ask a follow-up question.

  • How they understand their relationship with God now. It’s such a simple question to ask, “Tell me about your relationship with God right now.” And hear what they have to say.

  • Pay attention to what seems to be defining them now. How do you understand who you are right now? They will give you a lot of free information.

  • Ask the magic wand question. If you could wave your magic wand, what would you love to do or how would you make things different or how would you like to see things turn out? This is a great question to ask, but it can also surface many other things we may want to explore further.

I am curious with you, What are those key things YOU pay attention to when you listen to another person?

There is such a great diversity of effective mentors and spiritual companions. For this reason, it is important for us to remember those from whom we have received this mentoring attention. What did your mentors seem to pay attention to?

And it is important for us to discover the unique ways we are hooked up to companion others for their growth. Over this next season of life, I would invite you to be open to God’s nudging in your life. How is the Spirit shaping and equipping you to be a blessing to others as you walk with them?

We have two opportunities this fall to deepen your confidence as a spiritual companion or mentor.

A Longing for Spiritual Conversation…

A few years ago I stumbled across a journal entry of Henri Nouwen; and as so often before, his words deeply resonated with my heart. Nouwen wrote,

“I have come to realize how hard it is to have a real spiritual conversation. I keep wondering how people with deep religious convictions can speak together at table about the life of the Spirit…. It always strikes me how grateful people are for a good spiritual conversation, but also how hard it is to make such a conversation happen.”

In the circles in which I move, I sense a longing among people for better conversations, more soulish conversations, conversations around the big questions and wonderings of their lives. And yet, despite all this longing, people confess a reluctance, or perhaps inability, to initiate such spiritual conversations. Why is this and what can we, who feel such things, do about it? 

From youth soccer sidelines or neighborhood chit chat to informal dinner conversations to small group Bible Studies or mentoring appointments, how can we deepen our conversations?

To begin with, I want to invite you to watch our webinar Jump Starts for Intentional Spiritual Conversations, in which we dove into this set of questions. 

In preparation for this time, I found myself deeply affirming that the quality of conversation we offer others is inextricably tied to the quality of attention we provide others. How then can we grow in an attentiveness that leads to cultivating more meaningful spiritual conversation? 

Three initial thoughts come to mind, growing edges of sorts, for those of us who long for better spiritual companionship and conversation.  Read More