Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Importance of an Appretice

If you have spent any amount of time with me, you know that I am a Star Wars fan. I grew up with the Star Wars movies – I remember seeing The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi in the theaters for the first time. I had lot of Star Wars toys and, to be honest, I still have a few.

There are a few lessons we can learn from Star Wars. In the movies, the Jedi and the Sith hold to two sides of the same ideology, and they both teach that ideology to others. When a Jedi becomes a Master, they acquire an apprentice. They teach what they have learned to the next generation; taking them along on assignments, mentoring them, answering questions. All Jedi Masters were once apprentices and it's the hope that each apprentice will someday be a Master.

Unfortunately we have lost the master/apprentice relationship in this country. Many of the trades are no longer handed down from a master tradesman to an apprentice. Carpenters, electricians, masons, and many building trades are now learned in tech schools instead of being taught one-to-one by a Master Builders. The church is beginning to follow suit . . . many young men and women who go to Bible schools and seminaries are not being mentored. There is nothing wrong with Bible schools or seminaries, or with technical schools. There are some really great teaching institutions, but we learn practical application most easily and effectively when we have the opportunity and allow ourselves to be mentored by a master in whatever the field of study may be.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in seminary, but I learned much more from four men that God put in my life. They mentored me. As a young man, both the Pastor and the Director of Missions at our church were very influential in my life. They gave me opportunities to serve and to work alongside them in a variety of ministries; I was only 15 when I preached in a Sunday morning service, and God used that experience to change me forever. In college, the Pastor at my church really took me under his wing; he gave me opportunities to be active in that ministry, even while I was ‘interim pastor’ at another church. He helped me in so many ways; I will always be grateful to him. Finally, a pastor I served with in Arizona walked with me during a very difficult part of my life. I am not sure I would have survived those years in ministry if not for his guidance.

In addition to these four men, there have been countless others who have taught me, helped me, encouraged me, supported me. School was great, and I enjoyed Seminary; but there is no substitute for being mentored. I have tried to ‘pay it forward’ as much as I can, giving helps and opportunities to others to fulfill their calling. Much of my goals and work here at Heartland isn't to do ministry as much as it is to aid and equip you to be involved in ministry – thereby expanding effective ministry hundreds of times beyond what one person can do. It’s the law of multiplication – If I do ministry alone, I can only do as much as one person can do. If I help you do it, we’ll get more done. If I help you and you help someone else, then even more gets done. It goes on and on, until the whole world is impacted.

Today I want to encourage you to find a mentor and to find a student; find someone who is teaching you, and find someone to teach. It will make a lasting impact for the Kingdom.

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