When our children learned to walk, they imitated what they saw going on around them. Often a close adult took them by the hand and encouraged them to take just a few more steps.
But the stairs were different. In order to be safe, we wanted them to continue to sit down or slide down on their tummies. And, hard as we tried, these cute tiny people didn’t understand our explanation. So I sat at the top of the stairs with the current toddler in my lap and said, “Watch Daddy!”
My husband patiently demonstrated how to turn around down on all fours, push with his hands, and safely slide down the stairs.
When Dad got back up to the top of the steps, he again got down on all fours. Our toddler crawled down from my lap, turned around and did exactly what his daddy had just done. Together they slid slowly and carefully down the steps.
When I began writing over two decades ago I was in a similar predicament. I wanted to know how to write and needed to learn how to do it the correct way. So what did I do? I looked around to see how other people were succeeding in the writing business and I looked for someone to show me the way.
At that time resources were scarce and writers conferences were not plentiful. I read every current book I could find but there were not many. A new writers conference was organized in Florida and I attended at the invitation of my neighbor. I never knew anything like that existed. The entire conference was full of writers who loved the Lord and wanted to write for Him just like me! Friendly editors genuinely cared whether or not my writing dream was realized.
At that conference God had my writing path cross with Sandy Brooks. Sandy was such an encourager. She knew I needed encouragement and direction. She provided it without ever making me feel like a rookie. She offered instruction and answers to my questions. Most of all, she became my lifelong friend.
I still have my meager first attempts at writing devotions. They have Sandy’s profuse green markings on them, showing me how to make them stronger and explaining why what I had written would not work. In the beginning I felt like there was way too much green on those pages. But as I read her wisdom and realized her intent was to make me a better writer, I appreciated the way she came alongside me and mentored me right into being a writer. As the years went on and our friendship grew, she continued to model to me what a committed, godly writer looked like.
Ron Benson and Lee Warren are mentoring writers every year through the On Ramp program at the CLASS Christian Writers Conference. For six hours before the conference begins, they have an all-day workshop so that the attendees can get the most out of the conference.
The 2010 CLASS Christian Writers Conference introduced the book project. For one hour each morning, attendees were in small groups with a professional writer/facilitator. Many of those group times produced lasting relationships as knowledge and the benefit of experience passed from one person to another. Another project result was the beautiful book, Out of the Overflow.
Esther Burroughs says, “Mentoring…means using the best part of yourself to help another see and be the best that they can be.”
Whether writing, speaking, or teaching grandchildren to go up and down the stairs God is pleased when we take what we have learned and pass it on to someone else. And in coming along side and partnering with others along the way, we multiply our own ministry through the ministry of others.