Last February I was at a winter retreat with my high school youth. Per the usual format, we all attended a few large group main sessions led by a speaker brought in for the weekend. Long story short, by the end of the weekend, the speaker (Bob) agreed to meet with me regularly as a mentor and spiritual director. It seemed as though God had brought us together for a divine appointment and I was fortunate enough to be aware of it.
That same month brought me to my first ever pastor’s retreat. It was there that I sat with many pastors to hear from God, to be renewed in spirit, and to learn more about the vision we believe Christ is setting before us. It was a meaningful time, but the highlight for me personally wasn’t the engaging worship, or hearing from the many gifted presenters. Instead, I shared a conversation with a seasoned pastor (a different Bob) who just seemed to be listening to the Spirit while also listening to me. Long story short, we’re continuing such conversations and it’s one of the most healthy things I’ve done in a while.
Following his sabbatical this past summer, my lead pastor and I began to set aside additional time outside of our regular staff meetings to talk about life. Conversations about ministry objectives and next steps have always been a part of our official meeting times, but here in this new, regularly appointed sacred space we talked about our hearts. These times together have grown my love for him as a brother in Christ and as my leader. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.
The three men mentioned above are all well-respected within their spheres of influence. One is a CEO level leader of a Christian organization, one serves bi-vocationally in a local church and academic setting, and finally my pastor has served our congregation for the last 24 years. They are all busy men, with a wide variety of commitments. They are faithful followers of Jesus. They have a lot of wisdom to share…with those who are willing to listen.
The past 18 months have become a time where I have aggressively pursued the counsel of older men, but not just any men. Here are a few things I look for when trying to find a person who can offer wise counsel and/or mentoring.
1) Are others trying to spend time with them? Leaders naturally draw people into their circle, so look for those with “draw.”
2) Are they still hungry to learn? Beware of the person who has stopped learning, or who believes that learning is all about stroking one’s ego.
3) Do they demonstrate a love for their family? All of the men I’ve mentioned above have kids who genuinely feel loved by their fathers and reciprocate that love in all sorts of beautiful ways.
4) Do they take time to get away and be with Jesus? If a person has a million and one reasons why they are too busy to take times of personal retreat that include silence and solitude….beware. Busyness is the disease of a leader who is resting on his or her own abilities. It’s only a matter of time before the melt-down comes.
5) Are they multiplying themselves? Are they making disciples?
I’m sure this list could go on, but those are the highlights that stick out to me in this season.
I’m trying to blog more as a part of my own journey into greater spiritual health…so stay tuned!