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Friends and Mentors

By Mike Mccauley on
Mike Mccauley
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Apr 27 in Musings
This week seven young pastors in their 30’s or early 40’s will be with me in Los Angeles for 3 ½ days. They will come from Missoula MT, Milwaukie OR, Petaluma CA, Grand Junction CO and three from WA: Spokane, Aberdeen and Tacoma. It is an annual retreat group that started in 2009 with a trip to a cabin Anne and I once owned on Whidbey Island’s Useless Bay. Accordingly, we referred to the group as the Useless Bay Pastors.  Eventually, we sold the cabin, so the group shortened its name to simply the Useless Pastors- tongue only slightly in cheek. Each of these pastors are people I first had contact with as their pastor, supervisor or a presbytery committee chairperson. That is to say, all of the connections are relational.
I’ve had the privilege of benefiting from a number of older mentors in my own life- my first real boss in business, the pastor of our church when I was an elder, a seminary professor when I went back to school, a youth ministry veteran in Minneapolis, a pastor and writer in more recent years. None of those important relationships started out being defined as mentoring. It actually worked the other way around- in each case as a friendship was building, I realized how much I was learning and how important it was to me.

So when the Useless Pastors started gathering, it took me a couple of years before I realized- “Oh! Now I’m the older pastor, and these younger people are looking at me as the ministry veteran!” I can be a little slow on these things. As the years have unfolded, I’ve ended up with quite a number of similar relationships around the country. So I have thought a great deal about the idea of mentoring. And I’m Musing about it here because it is so applicable to our situation at Hollywood Pres as people of different ages interact more.   

Mentoring doesn’t happen because someone has a name badge on that says “Mentor.” It happens because a relationship develops. Sometimes a more experienced person has the wisdom of experience to impart- but it is never well communicated by a long lecture or a lot of talking. In fact, the most effective mentoring happens because of two things: Asking questions, and listening. The best mentors I know end up giving counsel or sharing experiences...when they are asked for it, which only happens when they are trusted as a friend. If you are older and want to build a friendship with someone younger- ask questions, and listen. Meet them for coffee and...ask questions, and listen. If you do, you’ll not only build a’ll learn a great deal yourself.

It’s in the context of these mutual, multigenerational friendships that faith is shared in a very natural way. We might even call it mentoring, and it sounds like this: One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts (Psalm 145:4).
                See you soon,
                                    Pastor Dan

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