Everyone has heard of C.S. Lewis, probably the greatest Christian apologist of the 20th century, or J.R.R. Tolkien, the famous creator of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, or Lewis Carrol, writer of Alice in Wonderland. But few know of the Scottish author and poet, George MacDonald. MacDonald was a major influence and mentor to these three great writers. He also understood the quote from Pope Paul VI, “Nothing makes a man strong, like a call for help.”1
Often, we think of mentorship from the perspective of the mentor such as Moses and his young men, Joshua and Caleb. Another example, Paul as he mentored Timothy, Titus and others or even Jesus and his twelve disciples. But what of the perspective of those who need a mentor? — which should be all of us. One cannot have a mentor unless we recognize our need and ‘call for help.’
O.S. Hawkins presented four different areas in which any person, especially a pastor, should be willing to admit ‘I need help’ – our private life, our personal world, our professional life, and our public life.2
Guidance in Our Private Life
According to Hawkins, no one knows about the private life of a person except that person and God. It is not even known to a spouse or close friend. This is the place that God knows, sometimes even more than we know ourselves. This is where God proclaimed through Jeremiah, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind,” (Jeremiah 17:10) Because of the hiddenness of this place, it is vital to seek someone to help us, pray for us, and give us a safe place to reveal the issues of our hearts for the sake of accountability and progress in honoring the Lord with our lives.
Guidance in Our Personal World
The second space mentioned by Hawkins is the personal world. This is the place where our closest friends live and interact with us, which includes our spouse, and children, and perhaps parents and other close family. But even in this space, it is important to realize we need help. For pastors, our children and spouse can get caught up in our ministry, or sometimes be left out of our lives due to the time and physical resources required by ministry. This is why it is important to have an experienced person who walks with the Lord, who is willing and able to see into our lives and bring God’s wisdom into these relationships.
Guidance in Our Professional Life
The world in which most of us realize we need the most help, Hawkins calls our professional life. We are more reluctant to allow someone into the first two areas — but this one we are more willing and ready for help. Here is where we find the most people in our direct lives; a pastor would find his church, a teacher with students and co-workers, or a missionary with a community.
Many of these people do not know you personally and are certainly not part of your private life. This place is where you use your skills, gifts, training and calling. It is also the place in which one can become the most callous toward others. It might be the place where we fail to see people as God sees them and are least willing to provide grace, mercy, and unconditional love. It is where pastors feel ‘burn-out’ and become overwhelmed by the tasks at hand. Thus, it is where we know we need a mentor — maybe mentors — to help us set the margins of ministry and family balance, to trust God for the results of ministry, to create new and effective goals and strategies to accomplish the work, and to learn to love others even in the most difficult of circumstances.
Guidance in Our Public Life
The final place Hawkins calls the public life or public persona. This is a place where only our names and public opinions are found. It is a nebulous place where people only know ‘about’ us and have formed opinions about us that may or may not be true. It is a place that can cause great anxiety because a person will feel they have very little control or influence over outcomes. It is a place where it is imperative to develop ‘tough skin’ and the ability to be resolute in our calling and purpose. It is also a place where we need someone, preferably a person who has experienced the pain and difficulty of having a ‘public life’ to provide us with guidance and counsel.
It is easy to hide in ministry, but it takes a great trust in God and willingness to take on the arrows of the enemy to have a public life. It is a place where Paul’s command to put on the armor of God, pray, be alert, persevere, and take our stand is of vital importance. This is a place in which a person can feel very alone, which is why we need a mentor to stand with us that can guide, love, pray for and provide us with wisdom to stand with us and bring honor and glory to the Lord God of heaven.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.