The Best Laid Plans of Mentors and Protégés

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I will never forget my first pair of “Matcheyes”. They glimmer, they fawn, and they have the tendency to stare 10 to 15 years into the future. Matcheyes are typically proven by the mentor’s plans for their protégé.

For a 20/20 on Matcheyes, I am referring to a common phenomenon that occurs when a protégé and mentor are first introduced. At Champions of Hope, we call that first interaction a “match.” Matcheyes happen when the mentor’s primary focus for the relationship is not training their protégé in Christian maturity. For the Matcheyes mentor, training a scholarship athlete, cultivating the next CEO, or teaching the class valedictorian trumps sharing the gospel and discipling the protégé.

Before I go on, I must say that I am a recovering Matcheye mentor in progress. I must first take the crusty plank out my own soul windows before asking you to remove your specks. God is currently redeeming me from my desire to see my protégé become more respected as a leader in society than as a strong Christian who lives a life on mission for Jesus. There is nothing wrong with your protégé getting a holistic picture of the Christian life. That picture should include academics, financial planning, a social life, and the like. However, this is simply a reminder that in everything we do we seek to leverage it for the glory of God.

The factor that has most helped me prioritize my discipleship Gantt Chart has been the gospel as spoken in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. Paul reminds his audience that the message of Christ’s forgiveness of sins is of first importance. Throughout the New Testament, scripture proclaims God’s gospel and the living out of its implications.

Some readers may respond that the 1st century setting of the New Testament is not like the world in which our protégés will one day have to survive. My response is that, when we interpret the Bible, context should not dictate content. Our culture still has its fair share of rich young rulers, influential centurions, and women (and men) at the well. We all still need the gospel and its implications more than anything.

When we lead our protégés in the goal-setting process, it must be filled with grace, defined as unmerited favor. We must share the grace of God through the message of the gospel. We must remember the grace we received when we have failed in our plans. Lastly, we must devote ourselves to pray for our protégés and understand that any personal growth only happens as result of God’s grace.

In the business world, it is recommended that we use Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Specific SMART goals to plan. However, its truly difficult, and at times foolhardy, to plan personal Christian growth using these qualifiers.

I would like to recommend a GRACE system for the way we seek to lead our protégés. I am not implying that grace can be earned in this 1-2-3 list of principled planning. Rather, I want you to think of yourself as a farmer and this acrostic as the bag of seed. Our protégé’s future fruit should only make us marvel at God’s growth process.

God first: Our protégés know what we prioritize based on what we discuss and pursue. In mentoring, let’s be sure that our protégé’s spiritual development has a peak position on our list.

Rewind from life’s goals: One of the best ideas about goal planning came from one of our mentors, Jordan. He helped his protégé see the big picture through an Excel Spreadsheet. On the first column, the protégé wrote in life goals in various categories (e.g. Spiritual, Academic, Financial). For this example, we will use a goal in the “Financial/Career” category: Become a Teacher. On the second column, the protégé wrote a goal that makes it possible for the protégé to achieve the first (e.g. Pass Certification exam). On each subsequent row, his protégé identified goals to achieve the higher row and continued until the goals were current (e.g. get a degree in teaching à go to college à graduate high school).

Assess goal movement on a recurring basis: Set aside moments throughout the year where you keep your protégé accountable to the plans that they have written.

Collaboration with Parents/ Guardians: Through collaboration with parents, we can make sure the plans we set with our protégés are reinforced daily. Talking to parents also allows us to assess the feasibility of goals. For example, in order for a protégé to be successful at a cross-town Magnet school, their parent would ideally be able to provide consistent transportation.

Encouraging your protégé whether they fail or succeed: Although we want our protégés to be successful in their pursuits, there will be times when they fail. During those seasons, we remind our protégé that their identities are not in meeting goals and deadlines. Rather, as Christians, our identities are in Christ.

As mentors, our primary goal is to be disciple-makers (not Dallas Maverick-makers). While accomplishments are great things, we must be intentional about showing our protégés that those are not our primary focus. Instead, we pursue Jesus in front of our protégés and pray that God will give them the grace to replicate that model in every aspect of life.

Zach Middleton, Relationship Coordinator

 

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