On May 1, 1996, I walked into the Grande Prairie Church of Christ to begin my first full-time ministry gig. I was 21. The ink on my pastoral degree from Peace River Bible Institute (PRBI) wasn’t even dry, nor were the spots behind my ears.
It’s been 20 years since then. No fireworks went off, and as it was Sunday, I worshiped and connected and preached in our church just as I normally do.
But this two decade mark got me thinking. What have I learned? How have I changed? What has defined my ministry journey so far? So many things rushed to my mind that I thought I’d try something different: I’ll post 20 lessons I’ve learned, over the course of May. (I may intersperse others posts, too). By breaking it down, I’ll keep things shorter and not overwhelm one post. 🙂
So, here goes.
20 Lessons I’ve Learned from 20 Years of Vocational Ministry
Lesson 1: Good Mentors Matter.
From my earliest days growing up, through Bible school and into vocational ministry, I have been blessed with terrific mentors. Alan Jones, as my first vocational ministry leader heads that list, but there are others who’ve significantly impacted my life and ministry. Gerald, Waldie, Al and Duff, all who have walked with me “in the flesh” as it were. But, as I’ve written elsewhere, I’ve been shaped by good dead mentors, too, such as Hudson Taylor, Lesslie Newbigin, Karl Barth, C.S. Lewis and Henri Nouwen. I also have high regard for ministry mentors I’ve happily accessed through books, teachings and podcasts, such as James Houston, Eugene Peterson, Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley and Carey Neiuwhof.
Whether they be dead or alive, close-up or influencing me from a distance, mentors have made me who I am. These mentors have:
- Challenged my character
- Shaped my skills
- Given me opportunities
- Pushed me to step up
- Showed me what truly matters
- Kept me focused
- Believed in me
- Brought me back to the basics
- Alerted me to pitfalls
- Taught me God’s Word
- Cut through the confusion
- Led me toward health and strength
- Made me more effective as a minister
- Nurtured my relationship with Jesus
In fact, many of the lessons I’ll be sharing came from my good mentors.
Good mentors matter, not only for how they have shaped me, but also for how they have then helped me mentor others. As I have been led, so I have led. We know that’s how it goes. As I’ve learned and grown, as I’ve been challenged and shaped, what I have experienced I have passed on. The influence of my mentors continues to extend to those I mentor. May their influence continue.
I’m challenged by this lesson because it reminds me of how vital mentoring is for the church today. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not for great mentors. Nor would they.
So who is around me now that needs my close attention?
Who is around you?
Coming up in my next post: Ministry Happens Best in Teams