Throughout my years as a Christ follower I have had a few men pour into my life as a mentor. While I was a student in seminary I had the pleasure to sit under my professor of Evangelism, Dr Dan Crawford. Dr. Crawford demonstrated a passion for students and he would seek out 5 seminary students that he would meet with on a weekly basis. Our time together was simple and it included prayer, scripture reading and confession of sin.
By God’s grace I was also able to develop a good friendship with my former youth pastor, Tom Cribb. As a young pastor I was able to develop another phase of our friendship by calling Tom and seeking counsel and encouragement on a regular basis. In addition, Jim Toole has been a regular influence in my life going back to my early ministry days. I continue to talk with both of these men on a regular basis. They have provided countless hours of council and encouragement. We have also spent time talking through theological issues and many complicated church related concerns. As I have reflected over the influence of my mentors I think there are three areas of commonality.
1. Mentors share life stories together.
I am thankful that each mentor was intentional about sharing life stories together. These men have model life-on-life discipleship, and that started by simply sharing our personal stories. This is demonstrated by sharing the big events, little events, and even those embarrassing moments that we often regret. Even today when I am in a conversation with Tom or Jim it seems we pickup the conversation right where we ended. We tell our story, one listens and the other shares. Having someone to listen to has proven to be so helpful. I have discovered that as I talk through a specific issue God uses our conversation to guide me into His truth. There is something helpful about verbalizing the story or issue that God uses as He brings clarity to often complicated circumstances.
2. Mentors hunt each other’s sin.
Sharing our life stories with each other seems to have always provided an opportunity to recognize and even confess many of the ways we’ve failed. I have noticed that the purpose is always to help bring healing. This practice reminds me of the insight that Tim Keller discusses in his book The Meaning of Marriage. Keller uses the phrase “hunting license” as the intent to search out sin in each other’s life. It is important to realize that through the course of time there are only a handful of people that I have given permission to receive this platform. It is also important to use this license with great discretion. This is not something that has been used jokingly or with the intent to embarrass. As a result I have discovered that through trusted admonishment God has often penetrated the darkness in my heart with His truth.
3. Mentors gave each other grace.
What I admire most about each mentor is that they foster a continual reminder of my need for God’s grace. They have helped me not only understand the gospel, but relish the grace within the gospel. I am a sinner and that’s just how it is for now. But my great savior Christ Jesus has come to save me because He absolutely loves me. He has gone so far as to trade His spotless record for mine, so that now God sees me as He sees His Son. Holy. Righteous. Clean. What better news is there than this?
These men have all modeled in different ways a wonderful life of grace. I have tried to model some of the practices that I have discovered from my mentors. Through my discipleship relationships I have experienced the blessings of sharing life stories, the responsibility of having a hunting license, and the joy of giving gospel grace. I’ve seen others grow as they have placed their hope in Jesus. I want to be the type of mentor that these men have been to me. They have faithfully (not perfectly) provided an example of Jesus. I am eternally grateful for the friendship of trusted mentors.
Our Pastor writes most of the blog posts we publish, however, occasionally some of our other church leadership (some staff, some volunteer) who also contribute to the New Life blog.