Thursday, March 3, 2011

Review - Reverse Mentoring

"Reverse Mentoring: How Young Leaders Can Transform the Church and We Should Let Them" by Earl Creps is an eye-opening book that really challenges older leaders (especially ministry leaders) to exercise the humility needed to learn from those who are younger. They are especially good mentors in areas of technology and today's culture. He carefully explains how such reverse mentoring is beneficial to all involved - both the older and younger leader, and to the organization or ministry. Creps style is very straightforward and candid, mixing stories, his experience, and powerful insights on today's culture.

The book has four sections. Part One is "Facing Reality". Identity (I am not cool), Culture (I don't get it), and Ministry (I am not relevant). As a middle-aged leader I knew I wasn't cool, didn't want to admit I didn't get it, and was shocked and dismayed to find out I was seen as irrelevant by younger generations! What a change from older days, where the younger automatically looked up to their elders for their wisdom and experience. After this intro I was very eager to find out what I could do. Part Two is "Cultivating Spirituality". Vision (Seeing beyond ourselves), Wisdom (Knowing beyond our information), Relationship (Befriending beyond our peers). These include some powerful discussions of how we can gain respect and influence in the lives of others... by letting them have a voice in yours. Part Three is "Experiencing Practicality". Evangelism (Learning from Outsiders), Communication (Learning from listeners), Leadership (Learning from followers). The key here is having a humble spirit that is able to learn from anyone and everyone, how to listen better and ask good questions. Part Four is "Developing Reciprocity". Proteges (Developing R-Mentoring relationships), Processes (Embedding R-Mentoring in organizations), Interview (Joel and Rachel mentor Earl and Janet). In this last section he talks about how R-Mentoring is becoming more common in businesses and how to promote a culture that fosters this.

Creps is passionate about reverse mentoring because he believes that younger leaders have the potential to transform the church, and it's important that older leaders not only let them, but encourage them. The vital need in all this is the development of authentic relationships. Unlike days past where leaders would never show weakness, it's so important to be ourselves, sharing both struggles and successes. Friendship, not position, is the core dynamic. Humility is the core attitude. Good questions trump teaching. Either person can initiate the relationship, often simply by asking the other to hang-out together. Reverse Mentoring is a culture, not a system or a program. One interesting suggestion was the use of triads for mentoring relationships. This benefits from having additional interaction between proteges, and further reducing the sense of mentor-mentoree.

Any older (or semi-older) leader who is wondering why they don't seem to have much influence with the younger generation should definitely read Reverse Mentoring.

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