This post is the final installment of a four-part series based on the message I gave at the Gurus of Tech conference in October. You may also download the entire message in PDF format.
Now, just as we can’t do ministry apart from the Spirit, I’ve also learned we can’t do it without help from fellow TDs. If you’ve ever listened to our podcast for more than 2–3 episodes, you’ve heard us talk about the importance of developing relationships with other techs.
Real life example: One of my best friends is Van Metschke. Though we’ve only known each other for about 3 1/2 years, it feels like we’ve known each other all our lives. We regularly have long, long conversations about technology, sound, working in the church and life in general.
We also support one another. Last year I got a short text from him on a Monday that said, “Can we have lunch this week?” I texted back, “Sure I’m open Tuesday and Friday.” His response was, “Tuesday would be good.”
That lunch lasted 3 hours, and he unloaded some really heavy stuff he was dealing with. As we talked, I did my best to help him process and tried to encourage him. He left feeling a little better, and I left grateful for the opportunity to help a great friend.
A few months ago, I received some bad news at work and immediately called him. He always starts conversations off with, “How are you doing?” That day, I said, “I’m depressed.” He said, “Why, what’s going on?” I gave him a synopsis and he said, “Well I’m down at Saddleback tonight (which is close to me), so do you want to grab coffee later?”
A few hours later we were sitting at Denny’s. We now joke that we would have closed the place down if they ever in fact closed. I left feeling so much better; not because he said anything amazingly profound, but because he listened and he got it.
It is critical that we have people like that in our lives if we expect to do this for any length of time.
In addition to Van, I have a group of 6-7 other guys who I know I can call any time for advice, encouragement or just to talk. And they do the same with me.
Now, as much as I treasure my friends and value their encouragement, I’ve learned if we really want grow and be more effective in our ministries—especially if we want to do this for a long time—we need someone, or a few someones to help us. Sometimes we call these people mentors, other times spiritual directors or coaches.
A lot of people get hung up on the whole mentor thing and don’t really understand what it is all about. Or they make too big of a deal out of it, trying to find one magical person who can give them all the answers in life.
My definition of a mentor is simple: someone who speaks light into your life. If you want to grow in a given area, it’s a lot easier if you have someone to talk to who has walked where you want to go.
The other day I heard Mark Driscoll talking about mentors and his approach is not to have a single mentor, but a team of mentors; specialists you can call on when you need them.
Others talk of having a Paul, a Barnabas and a Timothy in our lives; that is
- someone who is building into me,
- someone to encourage me
- and someone I am building into.
There are various approaches here, but I think the important thing is that we have someone—or multiple someones—speaking into our lives; people we can call on for support, advice and encouragement.
I’ve been meeting with my friend Roy for about 8 months to be mentored in the area of doing ministry. As you know, being on a church staff is incredibly draining, and if we don’t have someone pouring into us, we burn out.
Roy and I meet every couple of weeks for an hour or so, sometimes longer. We don’t talk about every aspect of life because it’s impossible to find one person who can speak into your whole life. Mainly, we talk about my ministry and the work God has called me to, and he reminds me—often—that God is not done with me yet.
Both of the mentors I’ve had in my life have centered around ministry. My first mentor was my pastor; I was the volunteer youth leader (with zero experience or training) and he helped me learn to do ministry. Today, Roy is helping me learn how to be a better leader in the context of being on a church staff.
Finding a mentor can be challenging, but like finding volunteers, the way to start is to talk to God about it. Think and pray about the areas of your life you’d like to experience growth.
Pray for wisdom, and for eyes to see the right person when they come into your life. Be open to whomever God may bring into your life; it might be someone you already know, but maybe not.
But don’t put too much pressure on your mentor or mentors. Having a mentor will not solve all your problems. We still need to take responsibility to be in the Word, spend time in prayer and grow personally. But a well-chosen mentor will help you grow in a few areas faster than you will alone.
Now that I’ve reached “old guy” status, I’m thinking about what kind of legacy I want to leave. I want to look back on a life that has been full of significant moments—moments when God used me to help advance the Kingdom or be part of a life change. I know I won’t fully realize the extent of how He’s used me on this side of Heaven, but I want to be as available as possible.
And I think you do to. You care about what you do; you desire to be used by God to accomplish something greater than you could on your own.
That can happen—it is happening!
To keep it up we to need to stay connected to the Spirit, we need to support each other, and we need to be encouraged by mentors.
If we all do that together, we will make an impact for the Kingdom of God that will shake the kingdom of this world to its core.