After about 10 years in traditional pastoral ministry in Canada, my husband and I are transitioning into church planting in South Africa. This necessitates us traveling around raising funds. If someone had told me what abundant blessings awaited on the deputation trail, I wouldn’t have believed them. Though traveling with children has it’s challenges, the blessings far outweigh the tough parts.
One of the biggest and most unexpected blessings of traveling to churches and spending time with pastoral families has been the way they intentionally pour into us. Perhaps for some, this is normal, but for us, it’s been rare, and honestly, rather late in coming considering all of our ministry experience and water under the bridge.
When we first entered the ministry, both my husband and I longed deeply for mentors. We prayed earnestly for them. We expected people to come and meet that need in our young lives.
But they never did. And honestly, it left us feeling like we weren’t worth investing in.
Several years into our first ministry, I realized that God wasn’t going to answer that prayer in either the way or the time that I wanted Him to. As we lived through life threatening pregnancies and other deep ministry trials, we began to see very specific ways in which God Himself was mentoring us. And it truly did become enough.
As we grew and matured, we began to throw ourselves into mentoring others. First, it was teenagers, then we added college students and younger married couples, as well as baby Christians. Our desire to be mentored faded.
Fast forward 10 years to find us post-sabbatical, and transitioning into full-time vocational ministry again.
And God is doing the unexpected—He is answering now, in this season of life, those desperate prayers we prayed 12 years ago. Not only is He answering for my husband and me, but He is sending mentorship into our children’s lives too. Funny thing is, we aren’t even looking for it anymore. Perhaps that’s why it seems like such a sweet blessing.
- A pastor takes us out to eat and shares wisdom from his lifetime of ministry and missions, giving us two hours worth of practical tips.
- A retired pastor encourages us by sharing what He sees God doing in us.
- A lady promises to pray for us daily while she exercises.
- A missionary on furlough stops and prays for us in such a faith-filled, specific way that we are moved to tears.
- An elderly lady takes our children into her arms and teaches them something about God.
I like to think of it as “popcorn mentoring”- those brief times when someone seizes the moment and pours into another with intentionality.
Maybe it’s five minutes, maybe 30 minutes, maybe an hour. Or two…..over dinner.
The other aspect of this is having our eyes open to the moments, and recognizing them for what they are. I’m finally being mentored, 12 years into marriage and ministry. And it’s not at all how we thought it would look. It’s certainly not traditional mentoring. But it’s “moments on purpose” sent to us by God, in answer to a desperate prayer prayed years ago.
Friend, do you feel like no one has taken the time to mentor you? Have you begun to think that you aren’t worth investing in? Have you prayed and asked and even been turned down, only to leave you no longer searching?
Don’t give up hope. I’m learning that it’s never too late to be mentored. God’s heart is deep and wide for mentoring, and He will do it Himself all our lives long.
Perhaps He’ll even give you the desire of your heart in a mentor with skin on.
Think, look, and believe outside the box when it comes to mentoring. Maybe, just maybe, one or several persons are popcorn mentoring you, and you haven’t even realized it.
There’s nothing quite like the joy of being poured into, even if it comes 12 years “late.”
Visit Leah Highfill at www.embracingrace.com where she has an extensive ministry to encourage pastors’ wives.