We began catching up, sharing stories, and asking questions. Too much to say, too little time. My mom happened to stop by our corner table to say hello. She was recently ordained and is still finding her voice and place as a servant leader in the church. “Pull up a chair!” was the natural response of the group.
One of the other pastors noticed a friend nearby who would benefit from the conversation and waved her over. We found another chair.
The conversation got loud and funny and passionate at a few points. We were off in a corner, but I’m sure we made enough of a ruckus to draw a bit of attention. At the end of the conversation one of us asked to get a picture. A young woman seated at the table next to us volunteered. In the process, she shared that she was sorting through a call to ministry and confessed she had been listening in to our conversation. We all agreed she needed to be in the picture, too, because there is always room for one more; we can always find another chair.
2. You don’t have to follow a model.
Too often, our lives and ministries are stressed by our attempts to implement all the best models. Mentoring is no exception. There are great models for mentoring out there, but for me, the richest mentoring relationships I have ever had have not been sought through a regular appointment on my calendar.
There have been seasons that I needed regular prayer partners to push me and pray with me when I just couldn’t do it on my own. These were sacred times when I needed a confidant to be a non-anxious presence in the midst of my storm. But seasons come and seasons go. So do mentors and mentees. And that’s just fine.
Cindy, the mentor I sought out in seminary, is now the Chaplain of Africa Nazarene University in Nairobi, Kenya. There’s an ocean between us so we don’t meet up for coffee often. We Skype once in a blue moon. But when we do meet up, our time together is sweet and life-giving. Now we are colleagues and friends. There is no more awkwardness, no expectations of one another.