Gospel Mentoring: Part Two – Inspiring Gospel Commitment
Every relationship has an awkward beginning. I can remember the first time I met with someone who intentionally invested in me. We didn’t call it mentoring, but he met with me and worked for my benefit and continued development. In hindsight, while there were lots of things that weren’t ideal in those early days of mentoring for me, there was something that made the experience stick with me, even beyond the specific things I learned in that relationship. He was committed; committed to his faith, his family, his walk with God, and to me. I knew that he would continue to show up and do the difficult work of trying to help a young kid explore God’s purpose for his life.
I’ve experienced examples from the other end of the spectrum too; people who seemed to always be unavailable or have something come up at the last minute. Some of these people were incredible and probably had a lot to offer, but every time we would push back our time together or I felt like an inconvenience during a conversation, it would drive us further and further apart — to the point that we didn’t talk about real things when we finally did get together. We were just checking a box.
This isn’t to say that every mentor is always available. I tell people that the better the mentor, the more you need to be prepared to intentionally pursue time with them. I have woken early, gone to inconvenient locations, and dealt with different time zones to receive their investment.
Ultimately, the Gospel empowers us to make a commitment that sticks with people even when it gets hard (1Jn3:16). We can’t deny the Gospel as a power in our life (2Tim.1:3). God will continually pursue and challenge us, even if we try to run or drift away for a season (Rom.8:38-39). The reality that we can never go too far or do too poorly for Jesus to give up on us should transform mentoring relationships, as well. If we feel discouraged by our own lack of progress or that of someone we’re mentoring, then we should get help by leveraging good resources; but not just give up.
In pre-marital counseling, I walk couples through a few different processes. One of the things we discuss very early on is that divorce is not going to be in their vocabulary as they enter their marriage. They can’t let that be an escape route from challenges. If you start with the perspective that you can pull that ripcord at any time for any reason, you will try a lot less than if you’re set on making the relationship work and invest in it the way Jesus has invested in you.
No matter how long you agree to a mentoring relationship, maintain focus and commitment throughout the season you have together. Sometimes the people who you think are having the least impact on you (or vice versa) will turn around in the next season of their life and apply huge truths that you unearthed in your earlier time together.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- What are the difficult parts of sustaining a relationship like this?
- What are the best ways to maintain connection even when you can’t physically meet?
- What are the best times and places for you to be consistent in relationships like this?
- What does perseverance in these relationships look like to you?