This article is specifically for preachers — older preachers — but it has a broader application to all Christians. So, don’t stop reading if you’re not an older preacher. But if you are an older preacher, I would like to ask you, “Who are you mentoring?”
Before you start trying to think of some word or deed you have done to encourage a younger preacher, let me say that I’m not talking about that. If you have to “think,” you’re not doing what I want to challenge you to do in this article. I’m not talking about random opportunities to encourage someone of which you have taken advantage. No, what I am talking about is deliberate, intentional, planned actions that were designed to encourage a specific young preacher. I’m talking about making a decision in your mind to help a specific young preacher develop his sermon preparation and delivery, mature his faith, and encourage him through trials.
If you don’t have a “name” of a younger preacher(s) to whom you are “handing off your mantle,” pick one, two, or three, and begin an intentional, regular plan to encourage them. After all, it is sort-of biblical, isn’t it? (2 Timothy 2:2).
Personally, I’ll never forget some of the things that my dad and Johnny Ramsey said and did for me when I first started preaching. Their encouragement meant the world to me. Several years ago, we had a preaching student here at Southeast who thought Wayne Jackson “hung the moon.” This student was given the opportunity to preach on our lectureship, and as a joke, just prior to going up and preaching, his fellow students told him that Wayne Jackson was in the audience. Well, that nearly caused this young man’s knees to buckle. His classmates got a good laugh from the joke they pulled on him, but as soon as this young man finished preaching, I went to my office, emailed Wayne, and told him the situation, and asked him if he could take a moment to encourage him. Within minutes, I ran into this student in the hallway and he had printed out the email that Wayne had sent him. Wayne told him that though he wasn’t able to be present, he had already heard of the great job he did with his presentation, and proceeded to write him an encouraging note. This young man, while clutching this email as a cherished possession, told me he was going to frame it!
Just to get you started, here are a few ideas you can adopt through which you can make a lasting impact on the lives of younger preachers.
- Take the time to occasionally listen online to a young preacher’s Sunday sermon and specifically compliment them on points.
- Plan to periodically purchase some books for the young preacher, and write an encouraging note inside.
- Read their writings and compliment them.
- Give them your phone number and email address and invite them to contact you for advice and help.
- Share material with them that you find helpful (e.g. articles, audio sermons, manuscripts, illustrations, etc.).
- Share your sermon outlines and class notes with them.
- Get the name of a Bible major or school of preaching student and begin a relationship with him.
Having said all that, let me shift directions a bit. “Older women, who are the younger women you are mentoring (Titus 2:3-4)?” “Bishops in the body of Christ, who are you mentoring (1 Peter 5:3)?” etc. Remember, I’m not asking what good you’ve done in the last several months, I’m asking who you have selected to intentionally, purposefully, and regularly mentor.
So let me ask and challenge you again. Older preachers/women/men/elders, who are you mentoring right now — specifically, intentionally, regularly? If no name comes to mind, accept this challenge and enjoy watching the impact you can have on the lives of others to the glory of God!