Mentors – The FreshMaker!

mentos

Sorry for the poor headline and accompanying picture. Even my ever-supportive wife rolled her eyes at me hard when I told her about the potential blog post last night.

To cut to the chase, I was speaking with pastor friend of mine whom I have known for twelve years. As I shared with him my aspirations for seminary and further theological study, he submitted that I should pay a great deal of attention to the component of mentoring and being able to have a community of people to walk with in ministry, saying that this aspect of ministry would be equal to, if not more important than the theological eduation. But that puts me in a bit of a pinch, I mean how do you pick a seminary without knowing if you’re going to have a mentor in the area or not?

I confessed that I had been looking for a mentor for years, literally for years. When I finally started to “get it,” that this private faith demanded public confession in baptism, in community, in service, in giving, in study, in conversation, and in every aspect, I found that discipleship was a very difficult activity to engage in.

My first observation was that American culture was anti-discipleship. Independence is “in”, submission is so 20th century. Every invention from the car to the apartment to the portable Walkman has been about me, me, me. To subvert that by saying, I want to learn from you, teach me what God has taught you, has been a very counter-cultural process indeed. In fact, I’m prone to say that it’s rare and uncomfortable even to bring it up in 2006. In fact, postmodern tendencies tend to speak out of both sides of its mouth in terms of this as well, in terms that it encourages and empowers you to speak, yet has the tendency to hold everyone’s experience as equally valid, which leads one to believe that perhaps the other person doesn’t have as much to teach me after all.

These tensions often lead me to be more indecisive especially in light of my Asian habits of deferring or stonewalling,  and only makes me want a mentor even more.

Of course the most telling thing that my pastor friend told me was that he himself had been looking for a mentor for years as well.  Which means to me that we are, as a 2nd-generation, without mentors.

To be without a mentor is to be make a lot of mistakes, to accept default modes of operation instead of having the courage to innovate, and to see the road ahead of us. To be without a mentor is what Andy Stanley calls “working in it, but not on it.”

Due to language barriers, cultural barriers, church splits and other such things, there seems to be less mentors available for our generation. Many of us feel lost and alone when it comes to ministry, sometimes, the higher up you go, the more lonely it feels. But if a culture of mentoring has trouble existing among people who dedicate their lives to the call of Christ, then how much more difficult for those who have not yet heard Christ at all?

The strange thing is, as I look at Asian cultures,  it seems as though the infrastructure for mentoring relationships would be there, thanks to Confucius, but it seems so controlling in the motherland context, that it rarely gets applied here. Perhaps there needs to be a compromise of laying down our individualistic tendencies and a softening of the hierchical nature to allow for more dialogue and then perhaps we could have a bit of this freshmaker…

So here’s to Mentors…

Closing song by the artist, Kid Rock (who also could use a mentor or two(!) judging by these lyrics) but they also apply to me, so no harm, no foul.

Up and down that lonely road of faith
I have been there
Unprepared for the storms and the tides that rise
I’ve realized one thing, how much I love you
And it hurts to see, see you cryin’
I believe we can make it through the winds of change

God is great indeed
If you believe, in the everlife
Yeah we gotta
Make some sense of the piece that’s not defined
And if you just hold on, I wont let ya fall
We can make it through the storms and the winds of change

Though I walk through the valley of darkness
I am not afraid

Cause I know I’m not alone

And if the wind blows east, would you follow me
And if the wind blows north, would ya stay your course
And if the wind blows west, would ya second guess
And if it blows to the south, would you count me out
And if the sun don’t shine, would you still be mine
And if the sky turns grey, would you walk away

Would you say I do, if I say I’ll be
And walk this road through life with me
You know I love youuuuuu

On this lonely road of faith




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Comments

  1. elderj says:

    i too have longed for a mentor, so it isnt just an azn thang. I think the rampant individualism in addition to the independence you mentioned earlier work against mentorship in the american context

  2. John Lee says:

    You want a mentor; elderj wants a mentor; I want a mentor. And therein lies the problem. We all want to have a mentor, this christian commodity called a “mentor.”

    Ever see a dog chase its tail?

    Perhaps we should focus not so much on where we should go to find a mentor as where we should go so as to be a mentor.

  3. David Park says:

    John, I agree with you in that stance. I mentor others and actively participate and contribute to relationships, both with peers and investing in others. Relationships where others invest in me are the ones I’ve had trouble in finding.

    That’s the only thing I want to bring to the fore. I think our acknowledgement of that makes us more willing mentors to others, but that doesn’t put a tail on the dog for it to chase, using your metaphor.

  4. William Woo says:

    My seminary actually has a mentorship class, but it is an elective, so I never really looked at it..incidentally or shall I say coincidentally I met a Chinese American Pastor at a conference. For some reason out of the blue he mentioned that he would like to mentor me, so I followed up on it, and he sort of spurned me…anyhoo, it was prob. one of those gestures that no one takes people up on…but here I was taking him up on it…but y’know being treated so shabbily, I wouldn’t recommend that man. Thanks for sharing and may God Bless You in your Search.

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