Tip #2: Invest Time (2 Tim. 3:10-11).
Relationships take time. If I had a dime for every time I heard that in a message, I’d buy Apple (or at least one Mac). But it’s a very true statement—if it were possible, it might be the truest statement around.
Mentoring relationships take time as well. A LOT of time, in fact. If it weren’t a Biblical mandate, I’d tell you to choose carefully whether you’d want to get involved in it, because it can eat up your schedule.
One of the things millennials dislike about the previous generation is their lack of time. The older guys seem so busy. When we email professors, we can’t believe they could be too busy to email back. When we tell them to change a grade, we’re offended if they don’t do it right away. It’s true that we think the world revolves around us.
But it’s also true that the older generation is too busy. Too “crazy busy,” as Kevin DeYoung puts it. Yes, you’re probably busy with a whole mother-lode of good stuff—counseling meetings, sermon prep, visiting hospitals, providing for your family, and on and on. But sometimes we can be less busy than we currently are. Everything you’re doing may be “good,” but it may not be “best.”
Here’s something “better” that you can do this week: invest in a young ministry guy. Start and continue a mentoring relationship. So clear your schedule and plan to sit in coffee shops for several hours on end discussing things that may not seem that important to you!
“Ya, right!” you say. I would agree. It seems impossible. But if you’re really serious about investing in the next generation, if you really want to see your Gospel work carry on through the years, if you really want to see the Kingdom of Christ grow in your community in the next decade, if you don’t want ministry to fail…it is a NECESSITY. Suddenly, that meeting over the Easter program seems a little less important.
Here’s some practical ideas for shaving down your schedule to make room for mentoring:
- Try fitting mentoring time over top of your other regularly scheduled stuff. Like, if you have to prepare a sermon, prepare it in a coffee shop next to a young man and get his input. You can also use that time to show him how to structure sermons (more on that in a future tip). Or, you can invite him over to dinner with your family—you have to eat at some point, anyway.
- Delegate, delegate, delegate! I’m starting to think that the single best trait of a leader is proper delegation. Instead of being in control of every business meeting possible, let the assistant pastor take some. Let your secretary handle that paperwork. Let your wife mow the yard (just kidding).
- Create a hierarchy of priorities. Arrange each day according to Biblical mandates for what must get done. Obviously, Bible reading, prayer, and family time are near the top. But shortly below that should come mentoring time. Creating a sermon PowerPoint or meeting with the music pastor can be closer to the bottom—no offense to music pastors everywhere!
The point is that you’re trying your best. Maybe you’ll have to bail on one week because you’re flooded. That’s all right. Just don’t make it a habit. We’ll understand if you have to skip one week, and we’ll appreciate that you’re at least trying.
I would recommend at least a once-a-week meeting with your mentoree. Pick a specific time that you’re free (if there’s any) and plan on a specific place—preferably a low-key place like Starbucks. After all, you’re addicted to coffee anyway—might as well meet a young guy while you’re there!
Paul didn’t mentor Timothy by sending him letters every now and again. At least, not initially. No, he decided just to take Timothy with him—to every town and adventure he encountered. You might not have that luxury to spend every waking moment with the mentoree. But regular time, week-by-week will add up to a lot of time spent.
In 2 Timothy 3:10-11, Paul writes, “You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.”
The question is—how could Timothy “follow” Paul’s teaching, conduct, aim in life, etc., if he wasn’t spending time with him? How could he even know it unless he spent a lot of time with the Apostle? That’s my point—how much time should you spend with the millennial? Enough so that they will know your teaching, conduct, aim in life, faith, patience, love, steadfastness, and yes, even persecutions. Timothy observed Paul day-in and day-out. Do you have a Timothy doing that in your life?
So schedule a Starbucks sit-down. And don’t forget to show up!