For the month of March, I’d like to dedicate Thursdays to talk about mentoring, how to find mentors, and how to disciple and mentor others.
Look forward to practical content from Jim Martin and Rich Little. But today I’d like to try and tell you why this matters so much.
Dashrath Manjhi was born into a poor labourer family in a village in India. He was living a happy and content life until his wife, Falguni, died because of a basic lack of medicine. She died because the closest doctor was over 40 miles away and Manjhi wasn’t able to get her to a clinic on time.
And so Dashrath Manji started working to help that never happen again.
For 22 years he worked night and day carving a hole in a mountain (like you do). He was working to create a shortcut between cities. And it worked. When he was finished he had reduced the distance between a hospital and his village from 75 Kilometers down to 1 Kilometer.
He carved a hole in a mountain for the people who were coming behind him.
I once heard Tom Long point out that the Gospel of Luke starts with the seniors. You’ve got Elizabeth and Zechariah and Simeon and Anna, people who are well into the AARP benefits. But then Long points out that these older people pass off the gospel to the younger people and then trust God enough to trust them with it.
So the rest of Luke and Acts, is young people taking the gospel all over the world. It looked different than the senior saints could have ever imagined, but it was exactly what they had always hoped for.
And these senior saints could do that, because they trusted that God was bigger than any one generation.
The Problems with Mentoring
I know I have hit the jackpot with having great mentors. I’ve been extremely blessed to have some of the most talented people to be willing to invest time and wisdom in me. But I hear constantly from other young ministers and leaders who don’t have that. They are hungry for people who are willing to invest in them.
But I understand why we don’t want to mentor…
I get it, you don’t know what you would share with them. You know you’re not perfect and you know your weaknesses. For many, the idea of mentoring feels arrogant and condescending.
I’ve never met someone who thought they had a perfect mentor. In fact, your failures are probably one of the best gifts you can share. What does it look like to do balance ministry and family? Or preach a hard sermon? How do you make time for taking care of yourself? These are all questions that you probably don’t have fully figured out, but you probably have had several more years of experience in asking them.
I once heard Andy Stanley say that the biggest mistake we can make in mentoring is thinking we need to have all our junk in order before we have anything to share. We don’t have to give every answer to every question they might have. It’s not our job to fill up their cup, it’s just our job to pour ourselves out.
We don’t have to be faithful to sharing our lives and wisdom about stuff we don’t know. But chances are there’s somethings you do know, that someone younger than you could really benefit from.
I know that there are plenty of reasons/excuses that we have for not doing this. The urgent is always more pressing than the important, but if you want to outlive your life…if you want to be a part of something bigger than you, then you can’t get around this.
Mentoring is Discipling
So there is a time in the Gospels where Jesus has just finished back to back chapters of healing/serving and teaching people. He’s been innundated with people coming from all over to get help. He’s exhausted from the overwhelming demand of human need. And Jesus responds not by criticizing the people who are coming, but by saying “The Harvest is there, we need more workers.” He’s basically saying “I wish there were more people who were able to do what I do.”
Which is exactly what he was doing with his life.
He wasn’t just ministering and serving the world, he was intentionally doing it with other people. He didn’t write a single book, he never left the area of Palestine, he just mentored the disciples. And the only reason you know the Gospel, the only way it got out of the small Middle Eastern area of the world is because Jesus trusted these people to change the world.
And the most unlikely people did it, and still do.
The Church I grew up in was 10 people. Bro. Foy was just a math teacher who preached. But I’ll talk about him until the day I die.
Rick Atchley has been my mentor for 10 years, and when he retires from ministry in another 10 years, his ministry through the several people he’s mentored, will just keep going.
The people who meant the most to me in my life were the people who were carving holes in mountains for those who would come behind them.
I want to be one of those people, I think it’s at the heart of the Gospel.
The apostle Paul travelled all over the known world with Timothy and Silas or Barnabas. He shared with them, not just what he knew, but who he was. I’m sure that made ministry more difficult at times, but it also meant that when he died, in a very real sense, his ministry had just begun.
He had passed on the Gospel
He outlived his life.
May we all.