I am a product of mentoring. When I joined my church as a young man, I didn't just need accountability from brothers. I needed authority from fathers. And by God's grace, I found spiritual fathers willing to lead me. They encouraged me, prayed for me, helped me financially at times, laughed with me, cried with me, rebuked me, and absolved me. They taught me about theology and doctrine—as well as how to be a husband and a father. I have watched them govern their families, and the church. I tried to remain teachable when they spoke into my life. When I heeded their counsel, things went well for me. Here are four principles I've learned from them that I now use regularly in my own role as an elder and pastor.
Trust your authorities
This isn't easy to do—I know from experience. My wife and I have 10 children (almost enough for a reality show!). When we "only" had six, we were living in a small parsonage of a neighboring church. The house had three small rooms, hardly ideal accommodations for a family of eight. I approached my elders for counsel because financial matters are not my strength. They considered my finances and other life circumstances and counseled me to stay in our rented parsonage a little longer. I was furious! I didn't have to seek their counsel in the first place. They had no idea what it was like to live the way that we were living. But I sensed the Holy Spirit saying, "If you want things to go well with you, trust your elders."
So, we waited. A year later, and expecting our seventh child, a friend told us she was selling her house. We scraped together a down payment and, with the blessing of our elders, bought our home. Shortly after we moved in, another friend expressed interest in helping us in ...