I've been in Nashville the last couple of days, hanging out at the PCA General Assembly. Think of it as a giant church business meeting. Actually, don't think of it that way! That would be both unfair and incorrect. Despite the bad rap that the GA receives from some people, the time has been rich. Yesterday morning I attended two seminars, both led by people farther down the road of life than I am. Harry Reeder talked about Mentoring the Next Generation of Pastors. My fingers were flying trying to write down all the insights on my iPhone. Then I listened to Barbara and Frank Barker share what they have learned from nearly 50 years of serving the Lord together. On the heels of that meeting I had a wonderful interaction with a veteran pastor in Atlanta who is incredibly wise. These were mentoring moments. Great stuff!
I could have flown home after those meetings having fully received "my money's worth." As reflect on my day, I am reminded of the words of Bob Roberts about mentors:
I need an "old man." I want to know that some pastor out there made it. I don't mean that he became a religious success story, but that he completed the race. I want to know that he didn't have to lose his sanity or morality to do it. I want to know that ministry really is what we say it is. I want hope that I will really be more than what I do, and stay true to who I am. I need an old man....I need a pastor who will show me his scars so I'll know I can survive being cut open. I need an old man who has asked the same questions I've asked and doesn't think I'm a heretic because I ask them. I'm not sure I need a model, just a person who is willing to talk honestly.*
The older I get the more I want to hear from older men. I find they are candid and unpretentious. Many have an ability to drill down to what is really important. They don't want to be "your daddy," but they do want you to succeed and they are willing to help point you and push you in the right direction. Thinking about mentors gets me thinking about Paul's words to Timothy:
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. (2 Timothy 2:1-7 ESV)
Our society is infatuated with youth. For my part, I need an "old man." How about you?
MY PRAYER: Lord, help me to humble enough to learn from mentors, wise enough to spot them, and bold enough to seek them out.
* From Training With A Championship Coach, by Bob Roberts (LeadershipJournal.net, posted 7/1/1996)