Walk This Way
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25 NIV).
At some point in the past week, each member of this Smith household has benefitted from those who have gone before us, who are steps ahead of us on the road of life. My husband had the opportunity to talk with an older coworker, who has been a life mentor to him for several years now, about his struggle to embrace his identity as one who has been set free from slavery to sin. I talked with a friend who has now been married for ten years about how she and her husband live transparently with each other. Our infant son sat and crawled at the fringes of the playground as he watched older kids stand, walk, run, and climb, then pulled himself up to standing for the first time the very next day. While we each had different things to learn, we all gained something from observing and interacting with those who have gone before us, a process we might loosely title “mentorship.”
When I was in full-time vocational ministry, working with a campus ministry organization or on staff at a church, mentorship was built into my job description. There was always someone who was not just supervising me, but also shepherding me, caring about my soul. Likewise, I was investing myself in others, mentoring and spurring them on in the faith. I think at times we took the idea of mentoring for granted, assuming that its value was obvious to all.
As I have transitioned out of a church staff position, I have come to see that formal mentorship is not as easy to come by, but there are opportunities to learn from those who have gone before us if we will seek them out. My husband was, for a long time, “mentored behind his back” by his coworker as they would walk around the building and discuss life issues during a brief break each day. My conversation with a friend, who has both older kids and a longer marriage than I do, took place on a bench as our kids explored a playground.
For each of us, our informal experience with mentors required a degree of vulnerability. We had to admit that we didn’t have all the answers or even adequate experience to equip us for our current situations. We owned up to our need to rely on the wisdom of others to help us interpret life. We invited them into our uncertainty. And each of us gained what we needed to keep on going.
I don’t know what you’re experiencing right now, what burdens you’re bearing or joys you’re celebrating. But I do believe that we each have need for companions on the journey, especially as we seek to keep in step with the Spirit. My hope is that you would ask God to open your eyes to the people around you who might be those companions and would have the courage to open your life to them and invite their input.