Ours is a world that demands immediate gratification. From instant downloads to instant mashed potatoes, we want what we want when we want it . . . and that’s usually NOW!
A mentor isn’t like that. He takes the long view toward those he mentors.
What does that look like in everyday terms? A mentor hangs in there. He has staying power. He isn’t restless. He doesn’t run. He isn’t a fair-weathered friend. He doesn’t give up when there’s criticism. That takes immense maturity in relationships with others. Look how Paul expressed it:
We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:14, emphasis added)
Taking the long view applies, regardless of the situation. That means a faculty member doesn’t step down because there’s difficulty in the school. A husband or wife doesn’t walk out because it gets rough. An elder doesn’t get his shorts in a wad because his idea isn’t accepted. Does that mean that we never walk away? Not at all. But most of the time we head for the exit far too quickly.
As a pastor, you stick it out. You take the long view. Paul himself modeled this mark of a mentor. After he was viciously opposed in Ephesus, his response may seem surprising:
He settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. (Acts 18:11)
You’re probably facing a tough time right now. If you are, believe me, I understand. The ministry can be brutal to its shepherds. It has gotten hard for me in every place I’ve served the Lord . . . and the reason I didn’t run? The memory of my mentors. They didn’t run either. I never have forgotten that. When a mentor hangs tough, what’s the benefit that comes to those being mentored? They cultivate perseverance. They too learn to take the long view.
Before you consider resigning, let me remind you of Paul’s exhortation to Pastor Timothy. Read each word carefully:
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2)
As preachers, we tend to gravitate toward the words, “reprove, rebuke, exhort.” But let me urge to you reflect on that last phrase: “with great patience and instruction.” That tells us how. There’s no instant gratification in that phrase.
Take the long view towards those you mentor.