It is crucial in ministry that you spend time being poured into. Crucial. Imperative. The best way I’ve heard it described is that we, as ministers, are constantly pouring ourselves out to others – whether in council, time, money, or just attention. If we don’t spend time being poured into by God AND spend time being poured into by our spouse AND spend time being poured into by a mentor, all we have to pour into anyone else is ourselves. And I can’t necessarily speak for you, but I’m full of nasty filth. I need to be pouring the wisdom and love of God and those that I know love him rather than pouring myself into them.
Meeting with a mentor or mentors helps in this area. It takes humility to admit that someone knows more than you do, and in ministry humility is a hard lesson to learn. Fortunately for me, I’ve been placed on my face by Jesus enough times to know that I NEED others to help me along in my spiritual journey.
And so as I’ve walked through life, I’ve sought out mentors – those who would pour into my life. Some are current and former professors and pastors. Still others are Christian men that I respect – I’ve looked at their lives, see integrity and growth, and desire their impact in my life.
I need these men to speak into my life, to challenge my hair-brained ideas (or knuckleheaded, according to my dad), to challenge spiritual disciplines in my life, to force me to grow, to pray, to prune, to guide, and to hold me accountable. I need this. You need this.
For those of us in ministry, we spend so much time pouring out. We’d better spend some time being poured into.
And when you do this, be sure that you come to the table with questions. You are the student. They are the teacher. They are giving their time to you and for you. Make it worthwhile. Come with more questions than could possibly be answered in one sitting. There’s nothing more frustrating than running out of things to talk about.
Also, you buy. Whether it’s lunch, coffee, or a drink at the pub, you buy. Again, they’re giving their time. Don’t ask to take money from their wallet as well.
And finally, respect their time. Some will make themselves available personally. Some will not. You are their student, but you are not their child. They do not desire your panicky phone calls in the middle of the night questioning an eschatological stance. Allow them to maintain proper priority in their life, and you will absolutely get the most out of your mentoring relationship.
Who is/are your mentor(s)? How often do you meet? What have you learned lately? What are they challenging you on?