Mentoring

coffee16.jpgWhom do you learn from? 

 
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from some wonderful people.  I have been fortunate enough to learn about life and ministry from some very good people.  I am thankful for these people who allowed me to peek into their lives and ministries.  I am also grateful that these people cared enough to ask me good questions about my life and ministry and on occasion provide me with some needed direction.

 
Yesterday, I was reading an article by Luci Shaw in the newest issue of Books and Culture (January/February 2008).  Shaw has written an article in which she reflects upon her friendship with author Madeleine L’Engle, who passed away in 2007.  She writes:

Madeleine and I both loved to trace words back to their origins.  When the word "companion" came under scrutiny, we realized that it referred to those who ate bread together.  She observed that when feuding countries forged some kind of peace accord and shook hands for the cameras, it didn’t mean much.  But if they sat down to a meal together, with bread and salt, it spoke of something more profound.  The Lord’s Table, with Eucharistic bread and wine, was the feast that joined us together.  We regularly walked to noon Eucharist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, a few blocks from Madeleine’s home in Manhattan.  And if the weather was too severe we’d stay indoors, thankful for God’s presence in the fellowship of tuna sandwiches. 

 

There can be something very significant about experiencing a meal or even a cup of coffee together.  Again, I think about some of these moments in my life which were very meaningful to me.  A few that stand out at the moment include:
 

  • A long, lingering lunch with my friend Prentice, who at that time was preaching in Dallas.  We were at a restaurant near his office.  This was the first time I had spent any significant time with him.  I was full of questions and concerns about my life/ministry.  He listened thoughtfully and with great patience responded to my questions.  He didn’t seem to be in a hurry.
  • A meal I shared with Lynn, my friend of many years.  He asked me questions about my marriage, my relationships, and my walk with God.  As we drove back to the Pepperdine campus, he challenged me (in an encouraging way) to break a relational cycle which had been present in my family for many years.
  • A lunch shared with my friend John, an attorney, whom I first met with in his office about eight years ago.  Lunch was brought in and for the next hour and a half, we talked about life, ministry, and the Lord.  I was impressed and moved by his genuine interest in me.  I will always remember that first lunch when he closed our time together by praying for me.

Through the years, I have also had the opportunity to be that person for some other people.  A person will call and say, "Could we talk?"  I pray about that moment before I meet with that person.  I pray that the Lord will help me listen and have the wisdom to know how to respond.  I thank God for the privilege of getting to visit with another about that person’s life and ministry.  Who knows?  The Lord may use that time with that person in a significant way.

 
Have you experienced significant moments (for you) like the ones I described above? 

 

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6 thoughts on “Mentoring

  1. One of my focus areas in ministry is involving members in the ministry of the church.  I’ve given up on recruiting and ministry fairs.  The single most effective method for servant development is through mentoring.  Mentoring is tough, but it is well worth it. 

  2. I will allow you to learn from me in that grammatically the opening question should be: "From whom do you learn?" I know that because I grew up with two aunts who would rather I commit a serious crime than use English improperly!! It’s that old "never end a sentence with a preposition" thing that drove us nuts in junior high.Years ago I was asked by Jerry Rushford if I would drive a professor from Malibu to LAX since I was going down to Long Beach. He was a professor of history at Lipscomb when I was a student there. In classes (I took several under him) I found him utterly boring. During the 45 minutes we had in my car I found him totally fascinating and even purchased a book he’d written on church history. I’ve learned that as I grow older, I become a better student! Maybe I should have waited until I was 54 to start my formal education. 

  3. Brad,I think you are right.  There is something about laying your life along side another that can be extremely valuable in developing people.  It seems to be much closer to the way Jesus developed the twelve.Thanks.  Hope you are doing well. 

  4. Greg,I have had similar experiences before (referring to what you said regarding your former teacher).In all seriousness, I can see why some people return to school in their 60’s.  I suspect most of us would come at our education much differently.