Today I have mentors on my heart. Have you had a mentor? Been a mentor? If you have had a good experience with a mentoring relationship, I bet you found a shining star. There are lots of examples of mentor relationships in the Bible: certainly Paul helping Timothy to feel prepared for ministry as Paul seeing his death approaching on the horizon; Samuel being mentored by Eli as they lived together at the temple; Mary being mentored by Elizabeth as they journeyed through pregnancy together with two very special babies.
God gives us people who can help us learn and grow and struggle through the things that will make us stronger. We are to embrace these relationships. Sometimes the way in which we have become broken makes it hard for us to have a deep enough connection with others to really share the areas in which we are struggling or need help. When this happens we are stuck. We cannot grow because we refuse to let anyone (sometimes including ourselves) see us as we really are.
But when we embrace our vulnerability and are open to seeing a new way of being, a mentor can make such a difference in our lives. God can use a mentor to help us be and do so much more. When I was pastoring my first three churches in West Virginia I was a part of a group of five United Methodist clergy that all served churches pretty close to one another. We met for breakfast every Monday morning at a local restaurant. We were so consistent that we were “regulars” and could order “the usual” with our waitress. We talked about how ministry was going, what had happened at our churches the day before, prayed for one another, shared personal celebrations and struggles and did a little bit of Bible study and discussion to begin another week of sermon preparation.
Each person brought their own gifts and uniqueness to the group. But two in particular were definitely mentors to me. Charles and Tom. They had both been serving the church for a long time. They both were able to listen, support, and encourage. They knew how to ask questions that made me think about situations differently. They helped me through struggles and transition.
That Monday morning breakfast group is still one I look back on fondly. I think sometimes we don’t commit ourselves to those kinds of relationships because we feel we can’t sacrifice the time. Maybe instead of believing that we are too busy for something like that, we should recognize that we are too busy and the things that we do are too critical not to have people helping us do our best.
Don’t have a mentor? – get one! Aren’t a mentor? – be one! We don’t just need shining stars in our faith journey, we need to be shining stars for others. God has a lot for us to do, we need people who can help us.