Perhaps you have heard repeatedly about the importance of having a mentor during seminary. Perhaps you are at a seminary that requires it. Or perhaps you believe that mentorship is overrated and really isn’t beneficial.
Regardless of where you stand on this issue, what’s important to acknowledge is that ministry is never done alone. Neither churches nor para-churches exist in isolation and each person who ministers with the Gospel must work with other people, even though ministry can feel very isolating.
My personal experience with mentoring during seminary has not been the best story. While mentoring is a formal program at my seminary and is designed to connect students with experienced pastors and find fellowship in mentoring groups, these groups, meetings, and classes often felt inauthentic or burdensome. For accreditation purposes, relationships were boiled down to reflection papers and spiritual growth was measured by reading reports. However, this is not say that mentorship in itself is unimportant and meaningless. It’s just the administration of it can seem tedious and ineffective.
So what benefits are there to mentorship? Since we do not exist in isolation and there are undoubtedly experienced individuals around us who can speak into our lives, I personally believe that mentorship is important and feeds into our effectiveness at being ministers of the Gospel. Jesus empowered and commissioned people to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth so consequently we are meant to be in relationships where we can speak into the lives of others. Accordingly, there is a link between discipleship and mentorship, which also means that there is a connection between Jesus’ commission and engaging in a mentoring relationship.
So if mentorship is important, then what are the potential benefits?
- Accountability. During seminary and in ministry we often feel stress and isolation. The combination of these factors can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms and a lost passion ministry and at worst, a lost passion for God. Being in a mentoring relationship can help keep you on track and deal with various struggles you can face. Mentorship provides an avenue for accountability.
- Spiritual Growth. We are designed to be in relationship with other people. Consequently, how beneficial can an intentional relationship be especially if the focus is on spiritual growth, reconnecting with God, and keeping our focus on Jesus Christ? The benefits are tremendous.
- Prayer. With being in an intentional mentoring relationship, you also have an avenue to go to someone else with a prayer need. Knowing that you are not alone in your prayers and that there is someone else who is there praying for you is a source of encouragement and strength.
- Connections. Having mentors can potentially help you find a job later on. During your mentoring relationship, your mentor will be given the opportunity to hear your heart and know your passions as well as your struggles. They can potentially help you find a job that engages your passions and surround you with people that can help your struggles.
- Empowerment. Not only are we to have mentors, but we are also called to be mentors. As you grow in your own mentoring, you have the opportunity to share your growth and stories with others. Accordingly, you will also be carrying out the Great Commission to make disciples.
By Joseph Siacunco. Joseph is a Masters of Divinity Student at Denver Seminary located in Littleton, CO. He currently works at Mission Hills Church in the Finance Department and is a Certified Public Accountant. He has worked in Accounting since 2004 but also serves at his church in other ways including teaching and preaching.