I have a mentor. In fact, I’ve had a number of mentors over the years for different reasons and from different people. When I was in high school, I had a group of men who took me under their wings and mentored me in what it meant to be a man of God. When I entered into Seminary, I had a great mentor pastor who took time to teach me what it meant to be a pastor and helped me through sem. And after seminary, I had a great mentor who walked with me through my first few years of ministry. And now I have a mentor who’s helping me get acclimated to western Michigan.
What is a mentor? We get the word Mentor from the Greek book The Odyssey–the story of Odysseus and the Trojan war. When Odysseus left for the war, he placed his old friend Mentor in charge of teaching his son Telemachus. Mentor took the time to teach Telemachus what it meant to be a man by Greek standards. Problem is, is that they didn’t have coffee back then. Don’t think they even knew what it was.
I think mentoring today takes place best over a cup of coffee. Mentoring is when you have one older person–older/more mature emotionally, older/more mature spiritually, older as in older–take the time to help out a younger person understand their place in the world. A mentor helps them walk through good times and walks through hard times. A mentor helps guide and instruct. Never telling what to do but only suggesting alternatives. A mentor is like a guide with a flashlight through a dark wooded forest, shining the light in the directions you would like to go.
Mentoring is great over coffee. It’s great over a cup of joe. It’s informal really. Mentoring is something that happens organically. Just like coffee is grown organically so is a mentoring relationship. It can’t be forced. It can’t be pushed. It must happen as slowly as coffee is grown. And it takes time to form. Trust takes time. Just like using a french press, it takes time for the grounds to fuse with the water and become coffee.
That being said, mentoring is needed. It’s needed in the church. In the book Sticky Faith (sorry don’t have a page number, I’m at home not in my office) Chap Clark and Kara Powell talk about the need for an inter-generational church. A need for mentors for youth and young adults (still don’t like the term but it’s what is en vogue now a days) to stay in church. But more than that, there’s a need for Xes to be mentored and to tell the truth, there’s still a need for Boomers to be mentored as well.
The same is true on the flip side–Boomers and Xers need to mentor Millennials and the high schoolers and even junio high schoolers. There is a need to mentor those who are up and coming in leadership. Those who are still in the church and wanting to know their place in the world and in God’s world.
We want to know why young adults and post-high are leaving the church. We want to know why they don’t want to stay. Why aren’t we mentoring them? Why aren’t we taking time to teach them what it means to be men and women of God. To teach them to live lives honoring God. To help them know what it means to be a follower of Christ.
But it can’t be forced. To tell the truth, the worst thing you can do to a cup of coffee is add heat. Once a cup of coffee is made, it needs to be drunk. (or is that drinken?). Heat is the worst thing you can add to it. It breaks down the coffee and makes it worse. You force it to be hot again and it don’t like it all too much. The same is true with mentoring. It can’t be forced but it needs to happen.
It starts off with love. It starts with loving them as Jesus loves. Jesus took 3 years mentoring 12 men to become leaders of the church. He took time to show what it meant to be his follower and to honor God in what they did. It took time and it wasn’t forced. Jesus did this organically.
Mentoring is to be done this way. With the love of Jesus. And it is to be done this way to help others stay. There is a generation out there that is in need of mentoring. In fact, there are many generations out there in need of mentoring and training in righteousness. As iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).
How can you help sharpen someone in the faith? How can you mentor someone? Be a mentor and you’ll see how what things can happen.