IVP - Online Pulpit - February 2010 Archives

February 1, 2010

"Howdy, Pardner!"

Blame it on Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, blame it on The Rifleman, Rin Tin Tin or Annie Oakley. Whatever the cause, I am a big fan of Louis L’Amour westerns. He was a great story teller who painted vivid pictures of the prairie, desert and mountains. In his books, he makes the people and the events of the Old West come alive.

You know what else I really appreciate about his stories? Time and again, the hero of his tale has a mentor. I recently finished re-reading one of L’Amour’s books where the main character is orphaned at a young age. While he shows enough spunk to stay alive in spite of many adverse circumstances, he needs someone to show him how to make the transition between boyhood and manhood. So L’Amour gives him a “Life Coach” as he does for so many of his other characters in other books. He obviously believed that success in life was taught, not caught.

As pastors and Christ followers we believe that too. We know we never outgrow the need for mentors. In every stage of life mentors are vital. Children, young adults, parents, married couples—individuals in literally every stage of life benefit from having a guide along the way. As I have been focusing on this important aspect of ministry the last few months, I have been asking myself the question, How are we ministers and the church doing?

In order to create an atmosphere in our churches that welcomes and embraces the idea of coaching and mentoring one another, we as pastors must model it first. We cannot expect our parishioners to embrace what we do not model. Pastor, do you have a life coach? Do you have a ministry mentor? Are you committed to being that for someone else? It has to start with us.

I am very encouraged to see seminaries requiring mentors for their students. Many denominations have fellowships and provide regular opportunities for their ministers to give each other mutual support and encouragement. Now let me offer a challenge to go one step further. Pastor, ask God to help you find someone that you trust and can be specifically committed to. Ask God to give you a mentor. This person will be someone you regularly meet with and are accountable to both professionally and personally.

As you pray for a person to coach you, remember there are many following behind you who could benefit from your experience. Ask God to also show you who you can help as others have helped you. Back in my college days, the Navigators called it “pouring your life into someone else.” I have always loved the picture that it evokes and the passion it inspires to help someone else along the way.

As I shape my own ministry to more closely fit my gifting and calling to be an encourager and mentor, I am discovering that it is much harder for women pastors to find a life and ministry coach of like heart. Perhaps there are other women out there who are longing for a mentor relationship and can’t find one. Can we share ideas of how to connect with other women ministers around the country?

Mentoring is not a new idea, and it is not our idea, it is God’s. It has always been his plan for those further down the road of life to guide—to be a “Pardner” to—those just starting out. Let’s all rethink and reevaluate the shape of our lives, and make sure there is room in it for mentors, and for mentoring. Our lives will then provide the model for those we minister to in our churches.

Posted by Joan Tyvoll at 10:10 AM