For all the sermons you have heard, for all the studies you have completed, for all the events you have attended, for all the books you have read, and for all the lessons you have learned, you are desperately in need of someone a little further along than you to show you the way.
The missing component in most of our spiritual stories is an intentional mentor who values imitation even more than information.
Through a consistent example, the content is retained far better than if it just came through a mere resource. No matter how substantial any resource is in your hand, it would have a more meaningful impact if someone could flesh those concepts out right beside you.
Good, Better, Best
While creating a specific plan is good for an individual, it is better with a partner, but best with a mentor.
I would prefer you to design a plan rather than just aimlessly wandering through religious practices, even if it meant you did it in isolation. Configuring a specific guide is better than doing nothing, but I know that we miss so much of what God intends when we seek to follow Jesus alone without traveling companions.
I would recommend at least having an accountability partner to know where you are and where you are hoping to go. The sideways collaboration and accountability will serve you well on days that you will struggle to maintain your commitments. Just sharing your plan with another will cause it to be reliably more successful.
A partner beside will benefit you, but a mentor ahead will advance you.
You won’t find a perfect mentor, but that’s kind of the point anyway. The intentional example in front of you will help you align with their effective practices and avoid their unfortunate mistakes. This directive goes both ways. In all the talk of mentoring, you need someone in front of you and someone behind you.
Who is discipling you, and who are you discipling?
What We’re Missing
God has sent many guides in my life. From motivational ministers to faithful friends, I have learned so much from so many different people. While I have gained insight from many, it has been rare in my experience for someone to position his or her life intentionally close enough for me to imitate. Paul saw the same great need in the church at Corinth.
For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.1 Corinthians 4:15
What a statement. How many of us could attest to that reality? We have had countless guides but few fathers. Every child in the faith needs a father or mother figure relentlessly investing in him or her. You may not have had that yourself, but will you provide it for another?
If someone replicated your spiritual devotion right now, would that be a worthy pursuit?
To find a mentor or a mentee, don’t attempt to force a relationship. Seek those who you are naturally around, and pursue a higher level of intentionality with that person. You can grow on your own or alongside a friend, but you will forever be changed by being on either side of an intentional discipling relationship.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.
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