As I reflect upon things I have learned this past year two important (and related lessons) come to mind: the essential role of mentors and of small groups to our spiritual health and vitality.
This is someone I have always believed and always taught, but as a pastor it was sometimes difficult to practice. I honestly believe that every Christian needs to be in a small group.
As a pastor at my last church, I was always in a small group — and they were good small groups. But as pastor I pretty much had to lead those small groups, or if not leading them, still wore the “pastor hat” in people’s eyes.
Rick Warren argues that every pastor should be part of a pastor’s small group outside their church. I wish it was possible to just “be Ben” in a small group within the church, but I think most people won’t let their pastor just be a normal person.
I have been in a great Men’s Small Group since July of last year. It is now an indispensable part of life.
The second thing I have learned is the importance of mentors. Again, as a pastor I had lots of professional mentors, coaches, training opportunities and professional development. Part of the reason I think the church was as successful as it was is because of those opportunities. But I lacked enough personal mentors outside the church — wiser men in my life who could really speak into my life.
I now have those people and it makes a huge difference. I think everyone — not just those in ministry — need good mentors in their lives. More specifically, I think everyone needs a team of mentors — some might be people you only know at a distance or through books, some may be peers, some may be specialized (like a mentor for personal finances) and some should be older and wiser than you.
Additionally, I think everyone should also mentor…
So those are two more lessons I have learned this past year.