The gift of presence

Jesus wept.  -John 11:35

In the video we watched last week, Tony Dungy identified three characteristics of Mentor/Leaders (a.k.a. people who want to convoy those around them):

  1. Mentor/Leaders truly care for those they are leading.

  2. Mentor/Leaders ask themselves, "What can I do to help this person get better?"

  3. Mentor/Leaders get to know those individuals well enough to help them.

Expanding on that, Coach Dungy answered a question about when someone is "ready to be a mentor" by citing examples in his life where people had been ready to care, ready to listen, and available.

To be sure, convoying requires a willingness to invest in the life and growth of someone we care about. Jesus modeled this approach in John 11, where we find the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. Jesus had a close relationship with Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha.

So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”  -John 11:3 (NIV)

In a calculated move, Jesus delayed his arrival in order to provide a graphic display of His power and glory as the Son of God. When He arrived, Lazarus was not just dead, but "good and dead", having been four days in the tomb. Jesus stepped into a scene of pain, grief, and confusion as to why He had not gotten there earlier. Both sisters stated, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21, 32). Jesus did not invalidate their feelings, argue with them, or immediately try to "fix it". Instead, He first stepped into their pain, even though he very well knew what was about to happen.

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  -John 11:33 (NIV)

Jesus then went on to call the dead man out of the grave to the joy of his sisters and the amazement of all who witnessed it. Now obviously, we will not be raising the dead. And hopefully, not every situation we are called to convoy in will be so serious, but the principles are worth noting. Care, relationship, and a "listen first" approach enable blessing, facilitate influence, and reflect the heart of Christ. I have heard it called the gift of presence, and it communicates love under any circumstances.

People need to know they matter. Practice this week with someone you care about. (Depending on the relationship already in place, you may even tell them this is a skill you're trying to grow in.) Ask an important question and listen to the answer. Ask follow-up questions. Let them unpack their thoughts and feelings on the matter without instructing, defending, judging, correcting, or fixing. See what the Spirit starts to do with that.

Scott Thompson