I have a standing appointment with Todd every Tuesday morning at 8 am.
Todd is not a student. He isn’t a ministry volunteer. He isn’t even a member of our church. Todd is actually a student pastor at a church across town. By my math, he is the second-longest tenured student pastor in our community (in case you’re wondering, I happen to serve alongside the first). Todd loves the Lord. He loves his family. He loves his church.
Todd is my accidental mentor.
About two and a half years ago I got a text message from Todd inviting me to a weekly reading group he was thinking about starting at a local coffee shop. As a lover of books and coffee, I showed up the following Tuesday.
I’ve been showing up to that same coffee shop almost every Tuesday since.
While the reading group never really took off, an accidental mentoring relationship did. I never sought out a mentor. I don’t think Todd sought out a mentee. But week after week, I found myself asking questions and receiving wise counsel.
We talk about family. We talk about student ministry. We talk about theology. We talk about sports. We’ve even read through a couple of books together (maybe the reading group kind of took off…). There’s never been an agenda to our meetings but they always seem productive to me.
This summer will mark my fifth year in full-time vocational student ministry. Over the last five years, I’ve made plenty of foolish and unwise decisions. However, one of the best decisions I’ve made was showing up at Baxter’s coffee shop on a Tuesday morning. The advice, input, and wisdom I’ve gleaned over the last two and a half years has been incredibly formative for this young husband, father and pastor.
My encouragement to you is this: find yourself a mentor.
Is there a student pastor or ministry leader you know that has more experience than you? Is there someone you look up to as a spouse, parent, or leader? Ask them out to lunch. Meet over coffee. Whether you’ve been in ministry five weeks or fifteen years, there is much to be gained from sitting across the table and listening to someone that has walked ahead of you and understands where you are.
Jonas Larkin is the middle school student pastor at Oak Hill Baptist Church in Somerset, KY. He enjoys his family, good books, coffee in the morning, and all things Kentucky Wildcats. You can find him online at JONASLARKIN.COM or follow him on Twitter and Instagram @JONASLARKIN.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.