Mentor Benefit: Pacesetting

A mentor is a missionary’s pacesetter…

Not a pacemaker. He’s not a life-support system. But he’s there to help you stay in it for the long haul. Young guys in ministry have chronic speed problems. Either we take off in a flurry of action and burn out quickly, or we shuffle along without any real drive. At times we need someone to rein us in and redirect our energies; at other times, we need someone to nudge us into the fast lane. There’s some guys that just seem to get stuck – no closer this year than they were last. Other guys are thrashers – we do ‘Step One’ of everything faster than others, but then we get bored/scared/distracted/depressed.

I doubt there’s any more consistent factor that determines if a guy will overcome these speed problems. Unless you’ve got a lot of experience, in running it’s hard to gauge your own speed. That’s why runners who are trying to break a record often make use of a pacesetter. That poor guy is just there to be a point of reference. That is the effect that a good mentor’s counsel will have on our speed. He’s there to challenge us to move faster, and to admonish us to pace ourselves for the long haul.

A missionary’s mentor should be a constant source of motivation. I love being able to spend time with my mentor (especially since we live on opposite sides of the globe), but when I’m with him I just want to leave and get back to work! Because talking about the ministry with him puts fuel on the fire. I want to run back and implement needed changes.

Example: in my last phone conversation with my own pacesetter, he reminded me that I have already expended 10% of my missionary career (at best!) Scared me to death. Now, I was already familiar with how fractions work – but it’s the wisdom of an older missionary that brings it to your attention.

Disclaimer: don’t think I’m discounting God’s timetable. Of course, things will happen in our lives exactly when God is ready for them and not a moment sooner. But try a little experiment with me. Look back over your life at some of the big moments of change. It’s amazing how many of those moments have a similar catalyst: a mature believer pushing you forward. God is in control over even the flights of the sparrows, but they still get pushed out of their nests by their parents. It’s amazing how ‘God’s timetable often happens to be precisely synced with swift kicks from a leader God’s placed in our lives! It’s just another one of his tools. Search Paul’s epistles for some of his own swift kicks!

Here’s just a few rut-shaped areas where we as young missionaries all need swift kicks from time to time:
1) Raising Support
2) Studying the Language
3) Planting a Church
4) Training Leaders
5) Guarding our Marriages

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  1. Why You Should Get a Mentor…and Listen to Him | Project Thailand - January 15, 2011

    […] Mentor Benefit: Pacesetting […]

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