A few weeks back my blog entertained the thought that our discipleship efforts may be missing a key piece or ingredient. Then as I have been starting my transition into a new ministry that God has called my wife and I into… we have been getting acquainted to some of the folks that call the place we are headed to their church family. Within those folks are a number of older folks and some felt they needed to point that out. But as I reminded them I don’t just see older folks… I see seasoned veterans. Veterans voices very much needed in the battle that is going on for the next generations of people in our communities (in other words our children and our children’s children). These are people who have weathered many storms… have faithfully stayed in their marriages, brought up their children as best they could, and have just simply seen so much of life that younger folks need to hear about (and not just the younger folks in their own families). Most importantly they can truly attest to God’s faithfulness and goodness (even through the rough stuff) through the years.
But how is that whole process going… so I had wondered about the question that will get us into this weeks wrestling.
Can you be mentored by an author??
I have realized in ministry and really in life the importance of having a person (or persons) beyond our experience and life lessons who we can look to for guidance. In other words I have realized the importance of a mentor. But, honestly in my life that role has only been filled sporadically at best by different people. I have had the opportunity to be counseled by a Christian counselor for a while… but that gets hard on the pocketbook after a while. It was a rich time in my life after going through some very difficult time in ministry. But as I alluded to it just wasn’t a sustainable relationship. What I have found in my life though are voices that have impacted my life and thinking (guiding voices if you will) that have come in more random ways especially in my life as a young man. After going back to get my Masters degree in my mid- 30’s though a new door of mentoring was seemingly opened in my life!!
Maybe you are wondering what in the world is he talking about… or maybe you have already guessed where I might be heading with this. The window of mentoring that I felt was opened during my years of working on my Master’s degree was window of authors. This group was especially made up of some of the authors that I would call classics (yes kind of a nicer way to say older). Recently, I worked through one of my favorite books on Christian leadership… not one that has all kind of strategies to make you a rock star Christian leader. Not one who will help us to garner the biggest following of people… but one who truly gives the Biblical look of what a Christian leader of the future will have to buy into. One, that dare I say, lives what servant leadership (another nice Christianese term) truly looks like.
Here are some of those words that have been spoken into my life.
“Jesus has a different vision of maturity: It is the ability and willingness to be led where you would rather not go.” … “The way of the Christian leader is not the way of upward mobility in which our world has invested so much, but the way of downward mobility ending on the cross.” “I, obviously, am not speaking about a psychologically weak leadership in which the Christian leader is simply the passive victim of the manipulation of his milieu. No, I am speaking of a leadership in which power is constantly abandoned in favor of love.”
from In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen
Here are words from another author who I have been reading more recently that I would say enters that realm of being a mentoring voice in my life. In this book author actually writes about the ongoing conversation in his life of a pastor that he has received through 3 “classical” authors. Here is what he had to say about them:
“My picks for mentors were John Henry Newman, Alexander Whyte, and Baron Friedrich von Hugel – the company I would keep to stay in touch with the conditions in which I was now working. The three, though long dead, were no strangers – I had been in prayerful conversation with them for a long time – but now I embraced them as colleagues, not just as admired ancestors.”
The Pastor by Eugene Peterson
I would love to talk with those in leadership in the Christian church today more about how that looks or could look!! As we help others in the church step up to be the leaders that each of us as Christ followers are asked to do… (you know that whole becoming disciples thing in the great commission… which is way more than just a suggestion). What kind of leadership are we pointing them to? It seems like what Henri Nouwen is saying and pointing leaders to is that all important process of continually being led. What does a mature Christian leader look like and what are his/her practices?? And in that process of being led where do you go to find that voice in your life?
Now I started this blog with asking the question about mentoring and where do those voices come from. While I believe these “classic” Christian authors have been part of that voice in my life… especially in times and spaces in my life when it has been a bit of a vacuum. I certainly don’t want to suggest we simply bury ourselves in our study or house and avoid the face to face interactions that can so richly bless us in our lives.
How about you… how is mentoring happening in your life? Has the process been intentional, random, or?? and where have those voices (or maybe written pages) come from? Are you like me thinking it could be better… that is more intentional? How does your church help this process?
Stay tuned… next week I want to explore this idea of mentoring a little more…. in the meantime… what do you think?
|David A. Stoddard… taught me about mentor partnerships|
|Henri Nouwen… taught me about what Christian leadership should look like.|
|Oswald Chambers powerful devotional book that I have reread over and over challenges me on the priority of Christ in my life on a daily basis|
|Eugene Peterson… helps with a more realistic look at the church and our journey towards being a disciple|
|Deitrich Bonehauffer has given us a wonderful encouragement about the power of life together!!|