George Pocock learned much about the hearts and souls of young men. He learned to see hope where a boy thought there was no hope, to see skill where skill was obscured by ego or by anxiety. He observed the fragility of confidence and the redemptive power of trust. He detected the strength of the gossamer threads of affection that sometimes grew between a pair of young men or among a boatload of them striving honestly to do their best. And he came to understand how those almost mystical bonds of trust and affection, if nurtured correctly, might lift a crew above the ordinary sphere, transport it to a place where nine boys somehow became one thing— a thing that could not quite be defined, a thing that was so in tune with the water and the earth and the sky above that, as they rowed, effort was replaced by ecstasy. It was a rare thing, a sacred thing, a thing devoutly to be hoped for. Brown, Daniel James The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (p. 48). Penguin Publishing Group.
The most popular courses in Fuller’s DMIN program currently are not courses in leadership, or missional church, or small groups. The most popular classes are those dealing with mentoring. What this says to me is that our students, and the ministries they lead are tired, or maybe simply unfulfilled by the hype of the large crowd or the celebrity Christian leader who never gets closer than a blurb in a book or podcast. Our DMIN students was to be mentored, discipled, coached. And they see the value of the close engagement with those in their ministries.
Mentoring, discipleship is most fruitful when it is seen as relational, intentional and in the ordinary. I find these three themes in Deuteronomy 6: 4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.
Relational—Intentional—In the Ordinary
The boat builder for the U of W crew team understood this. It changed the lives of many. In the church this type of patient, over time, engagement with others makes a huge impact.
Eugene Peterson puts it this way: In the mess of work and sin, of families and neighborhoods, my task was to pray and give direction and encourage that lived quality of the gospel—patiently, locally, and personally. Patiently: I would stay with these people; there are no quick or easy ways to do this. Locally: I would embrace the conditions of this place—economics, weather, culture, schools, whatever—so that there would be nothing abstract or piously idealized about what I was doing. Personally: I would know them, know their names, know their homes, know their families, know their work—but I would not pry, I would not treat them as a cause or a project, I would treat them with dignity. Preaching, of course, is part of it, teaching is part of it, administering a congregation as a community of faith is part of it. But the overall context of my particular assignment in the pastoral vocation, as much as I am able to do it, is to see to it that these men and women in my congregation become aware of the possibilities and the promise of living out in personal and local detail what is involved in following Jesus, and be a companion to them as we do it together. Peterson, Eugene H. The Pastor: A Memoir (p. 247). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
The Apostle Paul wrote: 2 Timothy 2:1 So, my child, draw your strength from the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 Take the things you heard me say in front of many other witnesses and pass them on to faithful people who are also capable of teaching others.