Early on in my ministry I had the privilege of being mentored. It all started when I told my old youth pastor that I was going to college to become a student pastor. He told me to find someone doing student ministry that I could sit in with and learn the ropes. I quickly found an old friend who had been a counselor at camp and started helping him do student ministry. At the time I didn’t realize that I was being mentored. I would stop in his office for about 4 hours each Monday afternoon and talk to him (like he didn’t have anything better to do). He graciously poured into me and helped me grow in my walk with God and as a pastor. Here are 3 things I learned from having a mentor and I hope to pass on to those I mentor…
1. The Importance of Shepherding and Not Just Planning Events.
Lots of times young student pastors will fall in the rut of planning events with no real end game in sight. It’s easy to plan what is cool or what will get kids motivated, but difficult to sit through strategy and scrap cool ideas for ones that will help you bring kids closer to God. I was given pretty free rein, but the questions that came out of those mentoring sessions really helped me gain a shepherding perspective early.
2. To Remember that Parents are Still the Number One Influence in a Students Life
I had several great ideas that would have made most parents sweat. Lots of young student pastors make mistakes with parents early on. They either take the kids off and forget to tell parents, talk bad about parents, or simply forget to include parents in the information process. Parents are a vital part of genuine students ministry. At the end of the day the students in my ministry aren’t coming home to my house for a Thanksgiving feast, they are coming their home. Parents for good or for bad are primary disciplers in a students life.
3. Doctrine is Important
I was 18 when I started as a student pastor and while my doctrine was sounder than most 18 year-olds I knew, it wasn’t always completely sound. It was important to have a mentor who could easily spot holes in my teaching method or in my thoughts about God. I was often confronted gently with scripture and reminded that true thoughts about God have their origin in the Scriptures.