MENTORING FOR ALL GENERATIONS
Just before sitting down to write these words, I sat in on a workshop with about two hundred pastors who sat in silence, stunned by the vulnerability of the married couple leading the session. They shared their story of the husband’s moral failure, and what led to his downfall. He loved his wife, and Jesus, and the church. And yet he fell into sin that destroyed his ministry and almost ruined his marriage. How could he let this happen?
That is a long answer, but one issue that fed his failure was a sense of isolation. How does a pastor find a person to be real with? Who does a pastor go to for confession, or accountability, or advice in a time of struggle? Pastors are great at caring for others, but often feel alone in their own struggles. It’s not the way God intended for us to live. God does not want us to feel isolated!
“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.’” —Genesis 2:18 NLT
As a pastor, I have made it a priority to mentor people. But what about me? Who is mentoring me? I must confess, until recently, I went for many years without a mentor myself. It can be a challenge to find the right person. In fact, the older you get, the more challenging this can become. I am thankful, and feel so blessed, now that I have an older friend in ministry who is pouring into me. I need the wisdom and teaching and perspective that his life experience brings.
Paul makes it clear that we ought to be intentional about investing in relationships with those who are older and younger in the faith. Paul was a mentor to Timothy, and wrote in a letter to him, “You have heard me teach in front of many witnesses. Pass on to people you can trust the things you’ve heard me say. Then they will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2 NLT).
Paul outlines four spiritual generations for Timothy. Paul is mentoring Timothy, and then Timothy is challenged to be a mentor to others. But not just anyone; Timothy is instructed to invest in people who will then pour into yet another generation of believers. In this way, one generation passes on the faith to the next, through mentoring relationships where faith is taught and caught.
Do you see the pattern that Paul lays out here being lived out in your life? Before you even begin mentoring a younger believer, I would suggest taking the critical step of finding your own mentor. How? Pray, asking God for guidance. Then just ask that person to grab coffee, and see how it goes. If it feels right, meet again sometime. Consider meeting a few times before asking that person to mentor you. If he or she agrees, then meet once a month, or whatever works for the two of you. Give your mentor questions or issues for discussion before you meet, so they can be prepared.
I have been blessed by being mentored! I hope you will be too!
Chris Spitters is a Youth Ministry Team member and a teaching pastor at First Church of God in St. Joseph, Michigan.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.