The other day I was grabbing something out of my kitchen cabinet, and a powerful lesson leaped from the shelves. In my kitchen cabinet I have various shelves with different types of utensils on them. One shelf has plates and saucers. Another shelf has cups and bowls. And yet another shelf has wine flutes and other “fine” dishes on it. I also noticed that the utensils I use the most are lower and more accessible, and the things I use less frequently are higher up.
The need determines what I choose from the cabinet. If I want to have cold cereal the best choice would be a bowl. If I wanted to drink wine (or cider) during a special occasion I would use my fancy wine flutes. While reclining on the couch sipping soda I could use a plastic tumbler. For a quick snack I may use a saucer, and for one of my gourmet meals a plate would be the best option. Same cabinet, different uses. All chosen based on a distinct function.
Based on the need and what kind of information or help I need. I have several mentors in my cabinet whom I choose for different resources. As I looked at the mentors in my cabinet I discovered that not one person can meet all my needs. So I have several mentors, who speak to different areas in my life. Some of them I use quite frequently, and others are high on the shelf being used from time to time. But they all serve an invaluable purpose in my life.
Here take a look at just a few mentors in my cabinet:
1. Moral Mentor – This mentor is one whom I call if I am faced with a moral dilemma. Be it personal or professional. Morality issues are not always black and white. There are times when other factors must be considered. This mentor is able to give sound advice. Not because they have been the model of morality. But because they may have fallen in an moral area; survived, learned, healed and restored. They have exercised poor judgement in an area. They speak from a “been there done that” perspective. However, this mentor can also speak from the perspective: this is the principle and standard “walk therein”. I choose this mentor from the cabinet to help me navigate moral waters.
2. Family Matters Mentor – This mentor is someone who prioritizes the importance of family and marriage. They nurture and champion the family. As a pastor I struggle every week to maintain some kind of balance between the rigors of the pastorate and time with my family. It is a daunting task to pastor a thriving church, and make sure that my children never think they are second fiddle to the church. I want to be there to see my son hit a three pointer. I want to meet my daughters date. I want to dance and act silly with them. I want to ride in the car and talk with them. I want to attend my daughters performances. I want to be a confidant. I want them to look back and remember that dad was there! This mentor teaches and models how to safeguard a marriage and keep it fresh. How to deal with multiple kids, varying in age and need. He shares even the personal pitfalls, victories, and “secrets” he has learned over the years. I choose this mentor from my cabinet to keep my family in front.
3. Pastoral Mentor – This mentor is one who has weathered the journey of pastoral ministry. Helping me to navigate through the choppy waters of the pastorate. He gives direction regarding decisions that need to be made. Administrative direction. Personnel and people problems. Leadership and strategic planning. Ensures that my heart doesn’t grow cold or bitter regarding the people I serve. And the list goes on and on. I choose this mentor from my cabinet as they listen and observe, that I may be the best pastor I can be.
4. Biblical “Scholar” Mentor – This mentor is one who I can call if there is a question regarding a biblical matter. A subject in question, or a verse I may be studying. It is their scholarly expertise that I glean from. He who is able to “open my eyes” allowing me to see more than what I would normally see. He challenges my thinking. Pushes me to exercise my mental biblical muscles. Encourages me to get “under the skin” of a text. Allows me to bounce thoughts off him. He gives me guidance and pointers where my preaching and teaching is in need of improvement. I choose this mentor from my cabinet as they help keep my proclamation edge sharp.
5. Personal Mentor – I learned quickly as a pastor that it can become very lonely. Not lonely in the sense of there is no one around you. As pastors we have people around us and vying for our attention all the time. But lonely in the sense that you rarely find people you can really confide in and talk to. If most pastors are asked how they are? and how everything is going? they will most always respond that everything is great! But in reality most pastors who are having any kind of personal issue are very limited as to who they can talk to. Pastors are people. They have fears, struggles, addictions, dark days, pressure, and stress. He is one who I know I can trust, I can be transparent with, and there is no judgement. I choose this mentor from my cabinet as they provide a safe place for me. Not just to vent and share my struggles with, but also recommends strategies that might remedy the issue.
You may get lucky and get all you need in one mentor. If so you are an exception. But if not, I encourage you to start “stocking” your cabinet. Your cabinet may be different from someone else’s cabinet based on your needs. But we all need a cabinet to draw from. Who is in your cabinet? Who do you need in your cabinet?