God has ordained things that we grow in faith only through the frail instrumentality of one another.
St. John of the Cross
Our growth in Christ does not occur in isolation; it takes place within the company of others who provide presence and perspective along the journey.
One specific form of being “in the company of others” is called spiritual mentoring; that is, a relationship between two or more people and the Holy Spirit where we can discover who God is, who we are, and what God desires to do through us.
Finding a spiritual mentor or even being a spiritual mentor has been a proven way over the years of discovering and embracing more of what this life with God in Christ is all about.
Craig had never thought about mentoring before. It was during his facilitator training retreat for The Journey that he first heard about walking with another person in an intentional spiritual friendship. “The more I thought about what I’ve read in the Scriptures,” Craig, 63, said, “it seemed to me that mentoring relationships have been lost in the church for decades.”
Craig went on to confess, “The hardest part was getting the courage to ask someone if he would be my mentor. I can’t tell you how hard that was initially.”
But nine months later, Craig courage had turned to gratitude. “This has been fantastic. The best thing I did was take time to pray, and a man who is involved in another church, came to mind. His wife died of cancer last spring. My wife has cancer.”
Craig described what he and his mentor talked about as their relationship deepened. “I supported his grieving and he helped me know what is coming. We encouraged each other and we always got around to talking about Jesus and his teachings.”
Richard Rohr has written, “We do not think ourselves into new ways of living. We live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”
I have been pondering this Rohr quote and spiritual mentoring a good bit this afternoon. My wonderings and prayers have drifted toward two long questions:
- Might some of us feel like we are on the outside looking in at the rich possibilities of a Jesus’ life, frustrated by our inability to think our way into his way of life, even despairing that perhaps this is really as good as it is going to get?
- Might the Spirit be inviting us to take a risk, like Craig did by reaching out and finding a spiritual mentor, and see if we can live our way into some new discoveries of this generous life with Christ?
Father, amidst the great inner challenges of our everyday lives, help us dare to reach out and seek the good company we need. Spirit, be generous…
We have been born into and grown up in a culture that is deeply alienated from God. So as we cross the border into God’s kingdom, with its radically new attitudes and priorities, we will need all the help we can get from a spiritual friend who has made the same perilous journey before.