BY RELEVANT LIFE June 18, 2008

A discussion on how mentoring works at Mosaic.

Steve Saccone and Jason Jaggard have known each other for almost three years. Saccone has played the role of employer, professor, manager, mentor and friend to Jaggard and several other volunteer staff at Mosaic, Los Angeles. They sat down recently to discuss how mentoring works at Mosaic.

What are some misconceptions people tend to have about mentoring?

Saccone: Well, we’re not exactly comfortable with the word mentoring to explain what we do. It already has a lot of baggage attached to it. It just tends to be the word we use when we talk about it. It’s funny that we use phrases like “finding a Paul” for young leaders or “finding your Timothy” for older leaders. We use their names because they didn’t have a name for what Paul and Timothy did. But we know it’s not like what most people think of when they hear the term mentoring.

Jaggard: I think one misconception is this idea that mentoring is a primarily pastoral function. From my limited experience, it seems as though we have an overly feminized view of discipleship, mentoring and development within the Church where people get together over coffee and talk about their feelings every week for two hours, as if that were the essence of helping people become more like Jesus.

Saccone: Right. It’s this kind of view that scares most high-level leaders away from a mentoring experience in the first place. It feels so nonproductive and time-consuming, but this isn’t the way mentoring with the protégés works at all, and it’s not the path we find in the Scriptures.

The protégés?

Saccone: Yeah, Jason and 20 other emerging leaders are part of a two-year experience that Mosaic calls the Protégé Program. It’s a holistic leadership development experience—basically a two-year mentoring experience—where you have two master’s degrees when you’re done, one from the Mosaic Leadership Centre and the other from Golden Gate Theological Seminary.

How does mentoring work within the Protégé Program?

Saccone: First I would say that it’s mostly informal, but also very intentional.

Jaggard: There’s something different about Mosaic’s ethos that makes mentoring happen almost spontaneously.

Saccone: We’ve tried to create a culture that has a high value for character development. It’s our conviction that creativity is a natural result of character development. In other words, you can have influence without character, but you can’t have character without influence—you can’t have character and not impact the world.

Jaggard: When I moved here three years ago, I sensed in the leaders around me two driving factors: a desire to grow and a desire to impact the world in as positive and significant a way as possible. This type of culture among the leaders infects the people they’re leading. When the leaders are passionate about growing and serving humanity on God’s behalf, the people begin to value those things as well.

Saccone: It’s these values that seem to create a healthy environment for natural mentoring relationships. If you have a culture that values only impact but not learning, you get a group culture of arrogance. Many church cultures have the opposite problem: a desire to learn but not to impact the world (at least that’s what tends to happen week in and week out). In cultures like these you have a value for knowledge over transformation, and as we all know, information doesn’t always transform.

Jaggard: That’s one thing I appreciate about Steve personally and Mosaic as a whole—they don’t separate pastoral care from leadership development. They both combine to form holistic character transformation.

Saccone: Character development is really important to me personally. Our lead pastor, Erwin [McManus], says he looks for three things in a leader: self-awareness, character and proactivity. We really try to instill these things in the people we lead.

So you’ve mentioned character. Talk about self-awareness.

Saccone: Self-awareness is so key in the life of the leader. This is probably the greatest gift a mentor can give to a mentoree. Every leader—every person for that matter—has blind spots or things that characterize them that they don’t realize they do. They may be bad things, they may be great things, but they’re things that they are not really aware of. In this way a mentor plays the role of a mirror.

Jaggard: That’s part of character development, too. The better you understand yourself, the better you’re able to give yourself away. I like to tell some of the guys I lead: You’re not God’s gift to women, but you are God’s gift to humanity. You have a responsibility to figure out who you are, your strengths and talents, and to use them to help people know God through Jesus.

Saccone: We have several experiences that we use to help people hone in on self-awareness. Gallup’s StrengthsFinder has been a great tool. All the protégés not only receive strengths coaching but also can become qualified strengths coaches. We also use Myers-Briggs and Erwin’s Character Matrix from his book Uprising as tools to help them begin to see their talents, the way God has wired them.

Jaggard: These aren’t only reserved for the protégés, either. Mosaic as a whole takes as many people as possible through these self-awareness tools. These experiences are so valuable to people because most of us have never grown up in healthy community. We either grew up in environments where we were never encouraged, and consequently feel like we have nothing to offer, or we grew up in families where you might be almost encouraged too much, to the point where it doesn’t mean anything and you can’t trust others’ praise. Either way it breeds insecurity and a lack of self-awareness that is damaging to a person becoming a mature follower of Jesus.

Saccone: I think a lot of people struggle to define what a mature follower of Christ looks like. “Spiritual maturity” is such a tricky thing to define. If people were walking around with atrophied muscles all the time, we’d know to prescribe exercise, and we’d be able to measure results. But spiritual maturity seems almost invisible. In most cases people tend to define maturity through spiritual disciplines and the ability to stay out of trouble. A more biblical definition of spiritual maturity might sound something along the lines of “being able to naturally and productively focus on others rather than yourself.”

Jaggard: “Stay out of trouble.” It’s no wonder spiritual maturity isn’t a hot commodity among younger leaders. The way maturity is defined most of the time, it begins to sound like Mr. Rogers is our patron saint rather than Jesus.

Saccone: It’s this activist emphasis Mosaic has that keeps mentoring relationships from growing stale or unnaturally close. I don’t meet with people every week when we have nothing to meet about. It’s more organic than that. And we don’t just talk about how their life is going, although we do spend a lot of time on that, but because how their life is going—their relationships, their struggles and anxieties—affects God’s mission of redeeming the world. Again, impact and pastoral care cannot be separated.

And proactivity?

Saccone: Proactivity fleshes itself out in at least two areas. First, mentoring begins when the mentorees open themselves to the influence of others. When I hear people say, “I’ve never had a mentor, so I’m looking for one,” I cringe. The reason is because mentoring doesn’t happen because a mentor decides to mentor you. Mentoring happens when you decide to let someone else mentor you, even if they don’t know they are mentoring you. Some of the people who have mentored me most would have never called themselves my mentor. Second, the one desiring mentorship has to already be working on growing and serving others. If someone isn’t already striving to serve others, then mentoring won’t work as well as it should.

Jaggard: Mentoring works best in the trenches. There has to be this sense of crisis, and a culture of proactivity and growth naturally lends itself toward people wanting to do what they can to become who they can be so that they can make their maximum contribution to the world. It creates—for lack of a better word—a healthy crisis or tension for people to live in.

Would these things be at the core of mentoring?

Saccone: We’ve spent a lot of time talking about good stuff, but I wouldn’t say it’s at the core. I would say at the core of mentoring is a genuine care for the people you’re mentoring. There is something sacred about genuine friendship that propels people forward. When you celebrate their victories, when you help them succeed in life, when you walk alongside them, God meets you there when you participate in that experience.

Jaggard: I remember when they let me speak at the Mayan—Mosaic’s most prestigious venue. I was so nervous, and Steve walked alongside me through that process, helping me work through my thoughts as I prepared to share. That night after I did a fairly decent job, I could sense Steve’s pride.

Saccone: I think the culture at Mosaic strives to be a place where we root for each other, a place where we constantly are learning from each other. It’s not like we don’t make mistakes; it’s not like we don’t have hard conversations. We do, and those are never fun. But it’s this type of environment—one of encouragement and a desire to see each other change the world—that enables us to have the harder conversations. You listen to a coach say hard words when you know he wants you to win.

RELEVANT