When I was in college I had some great mentors and some not so great mentors. When I decided to go into vocational ministry, I started looking for a woman who had been doing ministry who could be a mentor to me. I prayed and prayed and never seemed to make much progress in my search. This went on for years. It was incredibly discouraging.
A few years ago I was sharing this with a friend who was just beginning her journey in vocational ministry. She shared this same desire so we began praying together and seeking out some women at our church who we felt would be able to teach us more about serving well. Let’s just say neither one of us had much success. One individual literally told me, “No one has time to mentor anymore. People can’t give up that much time for one person. Go find some books about great women of the faith and let them be your mentors.” I heard responses similar to this numerous times, even after explaining I wasn’t necessarily looking for someone to meet me every week for hours and hours.
About a year ago, I was ready to give up on the whole mentoring idea. I went to Kenya where we had extensive conversations about mentoring and the need for it in the discipleship process. I have spent a great deal of time wrestling with the concept for years. My conclusion was, although I may never find a mentor, I would be intentional about mentoring the students I was serving.
I returned from Kenya and was frantically making preparations to move to California. I received an e-mail from Karen, an associate pastor at Christian Church of Thousand Oaks, the church I would be partnering with to plant the new ministry. She wrote that she wanted to do whatever she could to help me with the move and transition, including giving me an hour of her time each week to ask questions or get insights on the church, community and culture of Southern California. It was a very generous offer so I took her up on it when I arrived in town.
Every Wednesday morning, Karen and I meet at my favorite coffee shop and talk through things happening in both my ministry and my personal life. I can’t begin to explain the amount of wisdom and experience she has shared with me. This time has reignited my passion for mentoring.
All of that to say, we cannot give up on the idea. Mentoring can look very different in terms of specifics but students need to see examples of faith and discipleship lived out in everyday life. Without these examples of faith in the here and now, how can they learn how to allow their faith to permeate their lives? I’m sure you will be reading more about this on the blog in the months to come.