Over the past several years there seems to have been a new wave of interest in Christian mentorship. This generation of young adults, many of whom grew up with few positive role models, are said to be longing for a greater connection with previous generations. Some suggest that while Generation X wanted to chart its own path, Millennials are longing for more significant input from those who have gone before.

For me this hunger for mentorship is not just an abstract cultural phenomenon. At my church I spend a lot of time meeting with young adults, and many of them express a desire to be mentored by someone older and more spiritually mature. This is also my desire. I would love to see the church become a place where these multi-generational mentorship relationships are prioritized and pursued by people of all ages.

But I am starting to question the depth of this desire in my own generation. We talk about it a lot, but do we really want it? Are we willing to make the sacrifices required to pursue these relationships? Perhaps we do really want it, but only on our own terms, when it is convenient for us. Is it possible that we have romanticized the concept of mentorship? Maybe we envision sitting down for coffee while having a free flowing conversation with someone who speaks wisdom in every word. Is it possible that mentorship is messier and more time consuming than we would like to admit? Perhaps the reason we don’t have mentorship relationships is because we actually don’t care enough. I believe my generation is in need of mentorship gut check.

– Do we want mentorship enough to really commit to and serve in a local church alongside more mature believers?

– Do we really want to listen to and learn from someone whose perspectives on life might seem antiquated or more conservative than ours?

– Do we really want to spend time learning from parents who have screaming babies and misbehaving children? Are we willing to help babysit those kids in order to grow through interaction with these families?

– Do we care enough about mentorship that we would choose to be in a multigenerational small group instead of a group where everyone is just like us?

– Do we really want to be mentored by someone if we would be required to get up earlier or adjust our schedule significantly to pursue the relationship?

– Do we want to be mentored badly enough that we would give up a Friday night hanging out with friends in order to meet an older couple at a boring restaurant?

– Do we want mentorship and multigenerational interaction enough to commit to a church that doesn’t play our style of music?

We are a nation of instant consumers, and no matter how much we wish it would, mentorship will never have the convenience of a drive through. It takes more than three minutes, and godly character is not found on the dollar menu. Mentorship will always cost us something, and far too many of us are simply unwilling to pay that cost.

Maybe my generation does have a greater longing for mentorship than the previous generation, but I care less about what we say we want than I do about what we need. While we don’t find a succinct prescription for mentorship in the Bible, this type of generational investment does seem to be the assumed norm. Wisdom is often possessed by those who are older (Job 12:12). The Apostle Paul set us an example by providing guidance to younger men (Timothy, Titus, John Mark). Older women are even specifically encouraged to help train younger women (Titus 2:3-5). Yes we need each other, and we have always needed each other – that will never change. We should pursue relationships with believers in different life stages, not because it feels good, but because God has designed us to need each other.

This idea goes against the grain in a culture that consistently segregates generations. Older voices are commonly viewed with suspicion instead of respect. Many cultural forces serve to drive us apart, making it hard for us to benefit from each other. God honoring mentorship may be uncomfortable for us, but regardless of comfort or cost it is worth the investment. How is God calling you to make this investment today?

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