Mentorship is incredibly valuable for everyone involved in youth ministry. Not only does mentorship give you the opportunity to be a sounding board to bounce ideas off of, but it also serves as a way to challenge you to grow deeper in your faith.
In college, I had a youth pastor in a town nearby who I was connected with. This pastor had been in ministry for a while, and he offered some great advice about mentorship. He said, “Be a Barnabas. Pursue a Paul. Train a Timothy.” Here’s what he meant by that:
To be a Barnabas is to be an encouragement to someone else who is in ministry. Because of Barnabas’ influence at Antioch, Paul had the opportunity to develop a relationship and the ability to teach (Acts 11:26, 13:1-2). To me, being a Barnabas looks like investing into others who may be pursuing a call into youth ministry. Although I am not a veteran youth pastor, I have a few insights into youth ministry that I can offer to help someone out who is thinking about going into youth ministry. The easiest way to be a Barnabas is to seek out your local Christian college and see if there are any students who would like to intern or help out with your youth group. Through this, you can speak into their lives and helps shape who they are and their call into ministry. Be an encouragement and walk along someone. Be a Barnabas.
Pursuing a Paul means that you are pursuing someone who can mentor you. We ought to pursue someone who is excelling in some area of life or ministry. For me, this person is a youth pastor who I had in high school. He moved on from the church he pastored me at and is now working in a church that is growing and doing some great things. I have always looked up to this guy and always seek out his advice and input when I am in a tough situation or simply need some guidance or wisdom. God has given me a great relationship with this youth pastor and we are able to be open about our lives and our successes, struggles, and dreams. I encourage you to pray strongly about who God is calling you to follow as a mentor and contact that person to let he/she know that you would be blessed to have he/she mentor you.
Training a Timothy is just as it sounds and involves training or discipling someone else. When I look at my life as being a Timothy and its effect on my life, I can see how large the impact was and continues to be. I am currently doing this by training one of my students to seek out God’s Word and apply it to his life. We meet once a week and work through devotions using lector divina as a way to meditate on Scripture. This practice helps give Scripture new life each time you read it and think about it. It has been a blessing to see how this student is leading others in the youth group and the development of his own faith. The point isn’t to spoon feed your Timothy but rather to offer guidance.
I encourage you to prayerfully seek out these three people in your life. Ask God to lead you to the right person and have the courage to build a relationship with him/her. We are blessed to be a blessing. Andy Stanley says this so perfectly in that, “It is not your responsibility to fill someone else’s cup. Your responsibility is to empty your cup.” To me, this means it’s not my responsibility to give someone all of the right answers and direction, but that I am I am called to pour out everything that God has given me. If someone in turn gets something from it, that’s great.