The Missionary and the Mentor

‘Who is your mentor?’

This is the question that I would ask every young man in the Gospel ministry if I could. Please don’t think I would or could ask it from any position of superiority. It would be a challenge from one who stands in common need, and has graciously been allowed to benefit from the wisdom and experience of another.

Not unrelated then to my own need, I would like to put together a few blog entries on the importance of mentorship in missions. There is obviously a great amount of material available that delineates the value of this kind of personal training, but I would like to offer some ideas about how having a mentor impacts a missionary and his ministry. There won’t be anything resembling an order among these, nor will I make any serious attempts at eliminating overlap. So I’ll just put them out there, and I would love to hear from you about your own experiences (positive and negative) of missionary mentorship.

Before any of that, though, a word ought to be said about what counts as a mentor and what doesn’t. I’ve talked to many young guys about our training experience, and I’ve found our ideas of a mentor-type figure to be widely divergent. So, for the record, this is sort of what I mean:

1. If he doesn’t know your name, he’s not your mentor.

2. If he’s not available day and night to help you, he’s not your mentor.

3. If he doesn’t feel free to correct you, he’s not your mentor.

4. If you haven’t talked to him in a year, he’s not your mentor.

5. If he hasn’t left an indelible mark on your ministry strategy, he’s not your mentor.

6. If he doesn’t look at you like a son, he’s not your mentor.

7. If he’s not your boss for all practical purposes, he’s not your mentor.

8. If you could count the hours you’ve spent together, he’s not your mentor.

9. If you aren’t passionate about the same thing, he’s not your mentor.

10. If he isn’t deadly honest with you, he’s not your mentor.

He may be a hero, he may be a boss, he may be a parent, he may be a friend, he may be an influence, but a mentor he is not. Those that have been nodding their heads through that list know that it could stretch on and on. There are few things that model God’s grace as completely as a sacrificial mentoring relationship. It is a cause for constant thanksgiving on my part, and hopefully over a few posts I can share how.

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2 Comments on “The Missionary and the Mentor”

  1. Dennis December 24, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    Would love to make contact with you I have a real passion to connect with and learn about the church in China. Would love to hear from you.

  2. Rachel Miller December 25, 2010 at 2:51 am #

    As I was reading your list of 10 things I thought, “Wow, what good standards for checking out our relationship with Christ.” Mentors, “disciplers”, teachers are all vital to training, but one thing I have found about missions is that eventually you have to step away from the mentor and onto the field. If your relationship to Christ is weaker than that of the mentor you describe here, and especially if it is weaker than your relationship with a weaker mentor, you will never succeed. The mentor cannot go with you, but Christ can. Discipleship and mentoring, just like parenting, must teach you to lean on Christ and not the mentor. Men will fail. They will be pulled aside by their own faults and false reasonings, their health will fail, they will pass away. Jesus never fails, never falters, never forsakes.
    All that to say, I really like your list! 🙂 Praying for you guys! Have a wonderful Christmas!

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