The Value of Mentorship

Inspiration, Perspectives

As a pastor, you know that calls can come anytime, day or night. Daddy often got middle-of-the-night or wee-hour-of-the-morning calls. He always took them. I bet you do too.

So with all the pouring out of oneself that a pastor has to do, how can he get recharged? Where can she get inspiration? Who is there to fill his or her tank?

Of course, the pat answer is, “God!! He’s all you neeeeeeed!” But if God really was all people needed, we would never have had Adam and Eve, or the tight-knit friendship of Jonathan and David. Jethro wouldn’t have suggested that Moses get some “committees” together to help with his heavy load, and Paul wouldn’t have advised anyone, “Follow me as I follow Christ” (see 1 Cor. 11:1). People need other people. And that includes pastors.

Pastors need mentors.

The Bible doesn’t say, of course, “Thou shalt have a mentor.” But mentor/mentee relationships can be seen throughout the Bible: Moses and Joshua; Naomi and Ruth; Paul and Timothy; and more. Paul clearly had mentoring in mind when he urged older women to “train the young women” in all that they needed to please God and their husbands (see Titus 2:3–5 esv). Women need mentors—and even more so if, in the midst of trying to be good wives and mothers, they’re also pastoring a church. Ladies, as you struggle to balance home and family with pastoral duties, how will you get any guidance without the wisdom of another woman who’s been there, done that? Gentlemen, how can you shepherd a flock and a family if you haven’t seen someone else do it well?

So, man or woman, if you are a pastor, you need a mentor. It is critical.

I know a pastor who has been pastoring in his own large, successful church for nearly three decades. And yet, he never makes a major decision for his church without first consulting another man—the one who’d pastored him when he was in his twenties. This older man first walked him through his years of service under him, as a single man and an associate pastor, and then he walked him through dating and the early years of his marriage, through fathering infants, then toddlers, then teenagers. Now he is mentoring him and his wife through their “empty nest” years. As this younger pastor approaches his retirement, I know the older minister will continue to be there for him, to help him transition into a life of not being a senior pastor. He will be able to do that precisely because he’ll have been there himself.

My father had a couple of mentors, both much older than he. One had great prophetic insight and a whole lot of what my mother would refer to as “horse sense.” I.e., he was a man of wisdom. He was a good husband, a good father, a good preacher, and an awesome farmer and fisherman. The other mentor was simply a good, old-fashioned, down-home preacher, one my father deeply respected. Daddy read his books and listened to his sermons. I remember my dad sitting in absolute awe of his mentor whenever he’d come to guest-preach at our church. Both of these ministers had been through things my father hadn’t. That’s why they were good mentors.

The Bible says that “iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17 esv). Daddy’s mentors “sharpened” him, making him a better preacher, a better pastor. A good mentor can also help the lonely pastor become a better wife, a better husband, a better mother, a better father. Better at counseling. Better at administration. And the list goes on.

Notice that I used the word lonely. Oh, yes, pastors get lonely. They’re supposed to have all the answers, right? But how little people realize that their feet are also made of clay.

So, pastor, with all the problems you hear and all the counseling you do, who’s there to counsel you?

Your mentors. And you’d better have them. If you don’t have another pastor or former pastor you can go to, who’s already walked in your shoes, how will you know how to face those things you haven’t yet faced, but will?

So, Pastor, if you are walking alone, I encourage you to seek the friendship of another pastor, one who’s older than you and who has traveled a road that you have not yet traveled but will. Young ministers, you don’t need “mentors” who are in the same place you are. If you’ve got three preschool children, or a rebellious teen, seek a mentor who’s already raised his or her children, and whose children are still serving God as adults. Pastors face all the same pains and struggles that their parishioners do: struggles with sin, financial difficulties, the death of a spouse, rebellious teenagers, and for some, yes, even divorce. Your parishioners have someone to call on—and so should you.

So find yourself a mentor or two—today, because “two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble” (Eccl. 4:9 nlt).

Post written by Renee Chavez.

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