This cautionary proverb was written on a friends Facebook wall today, and I’ll have to admit, it got to me. It got to me because I don’t think I have one. A mentor that is. At least not in the same sense that my friend meant.
- Am I accountable to various people within the body of Christ? – Yes, I believe I am.
- Am I responsible for the spiritual formation of others by making disciples? – In part.
- Am I teachable by those we interact with on the mission field? – I think so.
- Do I have a mentor? – No, I don’t
I suppose I would love to have a mentor. Someone wiser, more experienced, more knowledgeable, more mature in the faith, etc., and I’m positive they are out there, but I am a missionary. My wife and I laid down everything in our former everyday lives to answer a call that God issued and “distanced” ourselves from those who could mentor us. We’re on the edges of culture where none have been before. I’m not so sure that apprenticeship or mentoring is viable for missionary pioneers.
I can’t help but wonder what a mentor would look like to me or any other missionary that has done the same. If someone’s going to “show me the ropes,” then I suppose it fair to assume that they have a familiarity with them. Also, I believe that incarnational/missional living is proportionate to the sacrificial. Who mentors the missionary in being more sacrificial without the intention to be more sacrificial themselves?
I’m not feeling guilty for not having a mentor, but I suppose I’m sad. I’m sad that there is not a pool of mentors at my disposal to choose from. So, what do I do? I draw encouragement, exhortation, and education from a broad spectrum of Christ’s body as they live out their callings in their own contexts. As a missionary, what other choice do I have?
A few questions:
1. Who’s suppose to mentor the missionary?
2. Should I have a mentor?
3. What are the character traits of someone who mentors a missionary?