By Rev. Kevin Loten, Chartwell Church, Oakville
“Hey Kevin, I have to pick up a package in Niagara Falls…wanna come along?”
You don’t know his name. He won’t appear at the next conference you attend. He hasn’t written any books or appeared on television, and he certainly won’t ever be referred to as a social-media ‘influencer’. In fact, the stroke he suffered almost 25 years ago has rendered him mostly speechless and confined to a wheelchair. And yet, without his presence in my life I simply do not know where I would be today.
His name is George. He was more than my youth pastor; he was my mentor.
Much has been written about the distinction between discipleship and mentorship. In my life those two circles have overlapped in such a way as to make the nuances virtually indistinguishable. Regardless of how we parse it, mentoring is a key and critical component of discipleship and as church leaders, we should apprehend or perhaps re-apprehend the practice.
The ancient Celts had a word—anamchara, meaning ‘soul-friend’. It was used to describe ‘one who walks with you’ through every season of life offering wisdom, support, encouragement, and guidance. Today we understand the concept as ‘mentor.’ The goal of mentoring is not to cover a curriculum. It is to live life alongside another with the intention of sharing wisdom and experience with one who is not quite as far down life’s road.
Perhaps now more than ever, as COVID has so belligerently pushed us apart and kept us to ourselves, young men and young women need reliable voices in their lives. Drowning in a sea of polarizing opinions, they are listening for the measured sound of wisdom that will rise above the noise from the context of a relationship where they are seen, heard, and valued.
Right now, there is someone in your orbit—a new husband or a young father; a professional woman or a single mom; a university student or an entrepreneur, who is in desperate need of your presence in their life. They don’t need a sermon: your availability is enough.
Like Jesus brought Peter, James, and John up the mountain. Like Paul brought Timothy to Galatia, who are you bringing with you? Ask God to show you who it is and don’t be surprised when He answers… they are likely closer than you think.