Friday, September 9, 2016

Your 3-Step Guide to being an Effective L.E.A.D. Mentor

Mentor: A trusted counselor or guide; Someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person.

My calling in life is to be significant through service to others in an effort to bring them to Christ and address racism. This is a tall order, and one I could not come close to meeting were it not for my mentors, Dr. Craig L. Oliver, senior pastor of Elizabeth Baptist Church and Dr. Tim Elmore, the founder of Growing Leaders.

When my wife Kelli and I founded L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct), we became mentors to a group of boys who desperately needed strong role models who would be there for them – even when they didn’t want us to be. As our program has grown, so too have the issues facing the young men we work with. We cannot do this alone and are constantly on the lookout for people who want to be a part of preparing our city’s next generation of leaders.

Do you have what it takes to be a L.E.A.D. mentor? Are you willing to be a present, be present, and be a partner?

Be a Present

It’s easy to avoid the hard things in life. Very few people need help with that. What we do need help with is going deep. When you care enough to ask the tough questions and then stay around to listen to the answers, you are showing a young person you care. I’ve found that in asking the following six questions, I am actually telling the Ambassadors that I love them:

1. What do you worry about?

2. What do you cry about?

3. What do you dream about?

4. Why does God have you on Earth?

5. What world problem do you want to solve?

6. What is your calling in life from God?

Now it’s your turn. Do you have answers for these questions? Can you say them in six words of less? Are you ready to ask our Ambassadors these questions and listen to their answers?

When you help a young man you are mentoring see himself in a new way, you are a present; a present that strips away entitlement and replaces it with empowerment. Out goes the complaining and in comes critical thinking. No need to blame, because now he believes.

Be Present

The number one response when you ask someone to be a mentor is that they don’t think they have enough time. Mentorship is a blessing and a burden. I rely on my mentors to help me do what God has called me to do. To be able to do that for an Ambassador, I must first help him discover what God is calling him to do and then make sure he keeps that front and center. This requires a mentor to be there not just physically, but spiritually.

Can you be there spiritually? If you start by answering the six questions yourself, you will discover your super powers and learn how to be there even when you can’t physically be there.

For Geri Cook, it was through the weekly prayer she texted to Ambassador Vernard Kennedy – prayers that he shared with the other L.E.A.D. Ambassadors on their group text. Those prayers have come every Wednesday since February – the last time she saw the Ambassadors in person. She is present in her faithfulness to God and to the Ambassadors, who have learned a great lesson through her.

How else can you be present? Each month, our Ambassadors focus on a specific core value. You can share an article or blog post, send a video message from you and others, or pass along a favorite quote that reinforces what they are reflecting on that month:

Excellence (August, February)
Humility (September, March)
Integrity (October, April)
Loyalty (November, May)
Stewardship (December, June)
Teamwork (January, July)

You can also literally be present. We have over 50 activities on our calendar and invite you to join us for any one of them. When you come, I believe you will be a fan of what you see, and that’s what Black boys living in poverty in crime-ridden inner city neighborhoods need. They need to see values in action, receive a little bit of help, and a whole lot of hope. That is what L.E.A.D. is all about.

Be a Partner

This is a tough one. This requires humility. L.E.A.D. defines humility as not thinking less of yourself while thinking of others more than yourself. As a child, I recognized the humble people. They were the ones who did something great, but were embarrassed to take credit for it.

When you partner with our Ambassadors, you will learn as much from them as they will learn from you. They will introduce you to a different Atlanta. They will invite you to become a part of a team that is working to make your Atlanta and their Atlanta
C.J. Stewart and Ceasar Mitchell
one. The young men we serve need partners who are willing to walk beside them, learning from each other.

My calling in life is to be significant by serving millions and bringing them into a relationship with Christ, starting with my wife, Kelli, and our daughters Mackenzi and Mackenna. The world problem that I want to solve is racism. My spiritual gift is discernment and my earthly talent is coaching. This all became clear to me after being challenged by friends and loved ones. It involved lots of tears on my part. It is why L.E.A.D. is here and why we need you.

1. What is your calling in life from God?

2. What is your spiritual gift?

3. What is your earthly talent?

4. What’s more important, to be perfect or intentional?

5. What do you have to give?

6. Are you ready to start?

If you are ready to learn more about how you can help L.E.A.D., please contact Kelli Stewart (