In his book, The Mentored Life, Jim Houston gives four reasons why mentoring (or, life with life, Incarnational ministry) is becoming a cultural necessity today.
1. Alienation in Modern Society: We may have forgotten the long tradition of apprenticeship in our modern age but the move toward mentoring is certainly an indication of a desire for some kind of connection and eldering from a wise friend in ones own chosen profession.
2. “Fixers” not friends: In our technological society we have turned more toward a ‘fix it’ model of intervention in people’s lives and have somehow forgotten the value of friendship. Techniques cannot substitute for wise companionship. “It is a friend who–not what–helps me to live life more fully and not to feel cheated personally in the process.”
3. Out of Isolation: Recognition, nurture, encouragement, attestation and understanding are increasingly more difficult to find in modern society–and, yes, as we spend time with Christian leaders, these things are lacking in Christian circles also. “Mentoring may open more new horizons for us in our personal relationships than when we are only ‘politically correct'”.
4. To Walk the Talk: Who is integrating theory with practice in your life? More and more, people are “looking to mentors to make a difference in their lives. It may be fatherly or motherly presence, a loyal friend who treats us differently, someone who exemplifies what is true and wise counsel, or one who helps provide stable relationships.” Whether we articulate it this way or not, we want someone to be Christ to us.
More and more, people are awakening to their desire for someone with whom they can experience life, look up to and taste God. We need travel companions along the journey God has set before us. Church history has called this person a ‘Spiritual Director’, ‘Discipler’, ‘Spiritual Father/Mother’, ‘Elder’, ‘Pastor’, ‘spiritual friend’. Modern history has ‘professionalized’ the role into something only a select few can accomplish. But of all the titles and roles, a spiritual friend is the most lacking and yet the most needed. As we concern ourselves with ministering to the flock, I pray we begin to remove ourselves from the professional model, catching a vision for how we can pour our lives into a few.
It’s an old principle of “each one reach one” that still has value for us today. If each one were to not just reach one but then walk with that one reached into the chaos of life, what would our world be like? If you had someone you trust and respect walk with you into the unknown arenas of faith, what would that be like? What would your life be like?
I just wonder…