NextGen participants at the Latitude GLC Transformational Mentor Training at Lake Highlands Church in Dallas, TX in May 2017. Pictured third from left is Matthew, a leader that I have been mentoring for 2 years. Matthew assisted me in the training event, sharing his own mentoring journey.
In May of 2017, nineteen participants from the Men's Ministry at Lake Highlands Church in Dallas, TX attended the Latitude Transformational Mentor Training event hosted at their site. Seven men were 35 years of age or younger. Each of the participants were afforded the opportunity in their learning groups to share stories of how mentoring relationships, or the lack thereof, had shaped their own spiritual journeys.
What encouraged me the most is that these young men are already engaging in informal mentoring relationships, and they are interested in being more intentional and transformational in their efforts. Whether their influence is with their own generation or the generation rising up behind them, they understand the biblical mandate to come alongside others in a shared spiritual journey. Each participant studied the biblical foundations of spiritual mentoring, explored examples of nine types of spiritual mentors found in Scripture, discussed the dynamics of transformational mentoring relationships, diagrammed their current mentoring relationships and reflected on future mentoring needs. At the end of our time together, each of these young adults committed to praying for, initiating, and engaging in mentoring relationships with people behind, beside, and in front of them in the spiritual journey.
I reminded the NextGen participants of what the Apostle Paul told his young "son in the faith," Timothy: "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12, NIV). Often NextGen believers feel insecure in their ability to provide spiritual leadership and insight to others, believing that they don't have their act together enough to be spiritual mentors to anyone. The truth is that none of us has our complete act together. We are all still pursuing spiritual maturity, holiness, and Christlikeness. We are all imperfect and in need of grace and second chances. I have been a follower of Jesus Christ for 44 years, and I still struggle at times with the more basic elements of the Christian life, just as the Apostle Paul struggled (Romans 7:14-8:4). The key is to be available, authentic, faithful, a solid example, and prayerful as you enter into mentoring relationships under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Start simple! We all need a Barnabas to encourage and believe in us, a Paul to exhort and challenge us, and a Timothy to stretch us and hold us accountable to walk the walk. If you are a young adult who follows Jesus Christ and longs to be more like him, you will benefit the most in your spiritual journey by surrounding yourself with a constellation of mentors, including other young adults who need an example to follow. Millennials make great mentors! Maybe all you need is some training and confidence to help you become a transformational mentor. If you are interested in participating in or hosting a future Latitude Transformational Mentoring event in the Dallas area, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keith West is the founding President of Latitude GLC, a non-profit ministry in Rockwall, Texas. Keith believes his calling is to be a "Barnabas" to the next generation of spiritual leaders.