Mentoring: The Men Who Shape Me

February 13, 2019 • Louis Zinc

One of the familiar tunes of my childhood was the theme song for the sitcom known as Cheers. Admittedly, I did watch the show from time to time, because the easy–going song had me hooked! 

“Sometimes you wanna go, where everybody knows your name…”

The show itself took place in one room, where the scene rarely changed. The actors always ended up together in the same location to discuss the same matters each and every day. They had a place and a people to go to where they knew much more than just their name. 

As pastors, we feel the tension and desire to simply try to remember everybody’s name. There are some of us who excel at that practice and others of us who struggle. But we can all agree it is nice to have someone in our lives who knows more than just our name. Most likely, that someone is another pastor who has helped and is helping us along the way. 

Personally, I have benefitted greatly from being intentionally discipled since I was 16. This is a practice that has not stopped in my life, now at the age of 38. The pouring into  of one’s life happens both formally and informally. Formally, for example; I have always tried to have someone older than me to meet with regularly for intentional discipleship. 

Through these formal relationships, that created a learning heart within me, that continued to be cultivated through informal means. For example, if I knew of an older pastor or minister, I would try to spend time with them and watch them closely just to absorb their way(s) of pastoring and shepherding. This did not specifically happen through meeting together regularly, but by simply observing from a close distance how they handled themselves and went about serving the Lord. 

To this day; there are 3 beneficial relationships that stick out to me of how older pastors are continually helping me. 

First, I have the benefit of having a retired pastor and his wife in the congregation that I serve. He and his wife serve me in numerous ways, starting with their entire ministry being an open book for me. This pastor prays for me by name multiple times a day and checks on me often by way of a phone call. He is honest with me about my sermons, some of my decisions, and offers me both words of warning and words of encouraging wisdom when it is necessary. He and his wife know a lot about me and my family and that is seen in his pastoral care for me. 

Second, I have the benefit of having a Sunday school teacher who has served in interim positions in small churches for pulpit supply. Although, he is not a vocational minister, He is fully capable of rightly dividing the Word. He may not have the pastoral title, but he has been a pastor to me. He has an open door policy in his home. This has served me to shed many tears and take quite a few naps when a quiet place was needed. He listens to me without interruption, then offers me wisdom through the Word, once I pour out my heart. He continually shepherds me because I am not able to  shepherd myself. This man also reads close to 100 books per year and often increases my library by both purchasing and passing books down to me. 

Third, I have the benefit of serving under a pastor that has served with his current congregation for over 30 years. He has pastored three churches, with this being his third. To add to that, we have 4 senior staff that have been here for over 30 years. But specifically, my pastor has helped me to establish roots (going on 10 years in student ministry with this congregation) and grow through circumstances that often cause others to bail and start over somewhere else because of the growing pains of leadership and ministry. 

Because of my pastor’s tenure and deep roots with our congregation and community, he is willing and able to go to bat with me, not necessarily for me. He does this willingly because he himself has been hit by a few pitches. Please hear what I am not saying; he does not protect me from everything. But what he does is stand with me and show me the way to shepherd faithfully in those valleys of the shadow death. It is truly helpful to not just hear about the scars of pastoral ministry but to see them up close and learn the way of faithful shepherding in the midst of all the implications of pastoral ministry. 

It isn’t just nice, but it is necessary to go to someone who knows more than just your name. 

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