Need a Mentor? Be Careful…

Mentorship is a good thing.

Mentors have the experience and wisdom to teach valuable lessons about life, work, marriage, ministry, handling finances, and many other areas; all from the standpoint of someone who has been equipped through first-hand trial and error.  Here are a few Proverbs that speak to this reality:

Proverbs 28:26   

26 Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.

Proverbs 19:20  

20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

Proverbs 20:29   

29 The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.   

Titus 2 also outlines the necessity of older men and women teaching younger men and women in the context of a local faith community.  It is clear throughout Scripture that seeking wisdom from those who possess it, and responding in humility to instruction, is vital for a life desiring to be well lived. 

There is a younger generation of Christians, made up of well-meaning and committed individuals who I have talked with and lived among, who frantically search for mentors.  I don’t think this is wrong in any sense, yet I would caution anyone who is looking for only one person from whom to learn life.  I hear it from people of my generation and younger quite a bit, “I just need a mentor.”  Many have fallen into the trap of seeking one individual who will be there to answer all their questions about life.  They get jealous when they hear friends drop the epic “my mentor” tag.  They dream about the day when that super-human-loving-but-firm-no-compromising-wisdom-giving-patient-conviction-bringing-shaman will emerge on the horizon of their life to point the way to balanced-restful-rhythmic existence. 

Beware.

I heard a pastor a while back talk about this idea of “one mentor” as the “mentor myth.”  He advocated not seeking one mentor, but many, and establishing a “mentor bullpen” of individuals with expertise in different areas.  The idea is building a network of people whom you can call upon periodically to seek advice and counsel.  I love this idea, and have been working to foster a mentor bullpen in my life for a number of years. 

Here are some reasons I think this concept of a mentor bullpen is biblical and practical: 

1) You look to Christ as your Mediator, not one sinful human being.
2) You employ a multitude of counselors (Proverbs 15:22) in any situation.
3) You aren’t dependent on one person’s schedule, availability, or proximity to you, in order to receive wisdom.
4) You can stock your bullpen with people who have a wide range of varying talents, experiences, and personalities. 
5) You keep your mentors healthy by not exhausting one person’s time, energy, and focus. 

Mentorship is great.  I encourage you to seek it, and if you’re in position, to give it.  But be wary of seeking it one place only, and make sure if you’re providing someone else with counsel that you don’t allow yourself to be the end-all-be-all for that person.  That job belongs to Christ.

About Pastor Andrew

Follower of Jesus, Husband to Carissa, Daddy to four daughters, Lead Pastor at LifePoint Church in Vancouver, WA.
This entry was posted in 2theSource, For Pastors, Leadership and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Need a Mentor? Be Careful…

  1. marcy says:

    THANK YOU! This has been a topic I’ve really questioned over the years. What is a HEALTHY balance…both for the mentor and the one being mentored.

  2. Sam-Wise says:

    Yea, this is great Andrew. Having a bullpen of mentors is priceless because not only do they have a variety of talents and experiences to draw from, as you say, but also they can each speak to your life uniquely depending on the context of your relationship with them. For example, my professors in school who see me everyday interacting with my peers have something unique to say to me because they know me and see me in a way my parents do not (Who are probably the most underused mentors in our bullpen, if we even add them to our roster at all!). Likewise, my teachers who see me in a classroom cannot advise and counsel me about my interacting with teenagers like my pastor who oversaw my internships.
    Great Point Murch-Man (Bring on Baseball Season)

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