In preparing to attend Eternity, I was greatly intrigued by their emphasis on student mentors. Each Eternity student is required to find someone within their local church body to walk alongside and disciple them as they acclimate to Bible college, redefine their faith, learn how to correctly approach and study Scripture, or even make independent financial and relationship choices. Going into it, I was a little scared. Not only was I moving across the country and finding a new church, but now I had to start a relationship with someone who I had just met so that they could disciple me. My previous mentor had been my youth pastor, someone that I had been close to for a long time and informally spoke into my life on a daily basis. Eternity seemed different.
The mentorship program that Eternity focus is brilliant and phenomenal, which is something I didn’t understand before I started classes but I fully understand now that I’m three semesters in. Entering into a new climate (not just the beautiful SoCal weather) of rigorous biblical, historical, and philosophical studies is challenging but exciting. Processing the informational deluge in your first semester is no small task. God created Christians to live in harmony with one another and not individually. Placing yourself in a community of other believers (a.k.a. church) will help dispel some of the tension and take some of the stress away from late nights. But sitting down one-on-one with someone older and wiser and letting the faucet of your brain explode through your mouth in intentional conversation…there’s hardly anything better, especially for verbal processors like me.
So when looking for a mentor, here are a few goals to keep in mind:
- A mentor is not a pet. Pets are cute and kept in stores where people, mostly teenage girls, walk up and down the aisle “ooh”-ing and “aah”-ing over their adorable little paws until they find one they like. Mentors are different. Don’t treat your search for a mentor like you’re picking out a pet to keep you company. Be intentional about your search. Who are some of the people in your new church who you’ve gotten to know? Who are the wisest people in your congregation? Those are the people you want to keep in mind.
- Wisdom is a must. Your mentor should definitely not be on the same level of faith as you are. Picking out a mentor similar to myself would have looked a lot like the blind leading the blind. Look for someone who knows more than you, which is a really humbling experience. Look for someone who’s been around the block in their faith and has grown out of that. Most of, but not all, the time this is someone older than you.
- Your mentor doesn’t have to be your pastor. Pastors are the greatest and worst candidates for mentors. They’re great in the fact that, well, they’re guys who spend their entire lives reading the Bible, living it out, and teaching other people how to apply it to their lives. That’s perfect! Yet, pastors are also arguably the worst because they’re pastors. Shining the spotlight on a pastor because he’s a pastor takes all the other extremely wise and qualified people in your congregation who weren’t called to be pastors, but are just as wise as one, out of the spotlight. Also, the entire work of the church is meant to be shared instead of laid entirely on the pastor’s shoulders. Between preparing messages, raising a family, possibly having another job, and ministering to the rest of the congregation, your pastor has a lot on his plate already. It’s likely that your pastor knows of people in your congregation who would make great mentors. Ask him. However, he would probably be willing to do it himself, and that’s great too.
When it all boils down to it, searching for a mentor isn’t all that bad. It requires grabbing coffee or lunch with a lot of people and making a lot of friends. I was under the impression that most people wouldn’t want to commit to a mentor relationship, but I was dead wrong. Most people you ask would love to pour into someone else’s for a while and would jump at the chance to do so.
You can also check out my personal blog at http://aspiringtheologian.wordpress.com
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