“What advice would you give to someone who is looking for older godly mentors but has none at home and few at college, if any?”
[This excellent question is another from our college retreat’s Stump the Pastors session.]
This question simultaneously excites and discourages me. Anytime a young Christian desires a spiritual mentor, something good is happening. That desire signals a humble willingness to learn, a realization of the need for growth in Christ, and an acceptance of God’s provision of such growth in the form of mentors. However, the question should also alert us that someone is having a hard time finding such a mentor–that despite the clear instructions in God’s Word, many in the church aren’t making themselves available for those younger in the faith.
To those looking for a mentor, here is my advice:
- Pray. Our heavenly Father is the giver of all good gifts, especially those coming in the form of other people.
- Look & ask. Take a hard look at the church family God where God has put you. It’s likely there’s someone there who would fit the bill. Realize a great mentor doesn’t have to be someone who shares your personality or career or sense of humor. Be bold and ask them to meet with you for encouragement and help.
- Ask again. Talk to your pastor or another elder. Hopefully they will have a good sense of who is able and willing to be a mentor.
- Branch out. While we would expect and hope that each congregation has received from God everything necessary for raising up believers, including good mentors, sometimes a struggling congregation may not have the good mentors available. In such a case, perhaps you and your pastor could reach out to other local congregations to find such a mentor.
- Be ready to serve. Someone seeking a mentor is also someone likely to grow leaps and bounds in the Christian life…which means that you’ll likely be called on to be a mentor far sooner than you realize. In fact, you may be ready now to come alongside a younger Christian and offer fellowship and encouragement!
To those able to mentor, here are a few necessary words of encouragement:
- It is Scripture’s clear call that mature Christians play active roles in training younger Christians in doctrine and life (Titus 2:1-6). This is not just the job of your pastors or elders.
- Out of obedience to God and love for the church, do what’s necessary to make yourself available to help another Christian. Perhaps you need to make a little room in your schedule (it could be as simple as a lunch meeting every other week!) or to brush up on your own theology and disciplines.
- Look and ask. Some young Christians don’t know that having a mentor is even an option. Be bold to invite them into your life, offer encouragement in any way you can.
- Make your availability known. Let the elders know you’d like to be used to help someone else grow in discipleship. Chances are good they’ll have someone already in mind!
There are many types of blessed relationships in Jesus’ church. Having or being a mentor is one of the ways He’s designed us to live and minister like Him.