When you were little, did you have a role model? Was there someone in your life you looked up to? Or maybe it was a celebrity or musician? I remember having NKOTB posters all over my walls as a pre-teen. I don’t know if you’d call that a role model, maybe more of a fascination and crush! I do, however remember watching very closely some kids who were just a bit older than me in church.
I remember I watched them so closely I’d mimic their stance when we stood in church to sing. I had no idea why they rested their hands on the chairs in front of us, but I figured, if they are doing it I should do it too!
As an adult, I have occasionally had someone who I’ve really looked up to and who has mentored me and encouraged me in my faith. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that those who have traveled this journey longer than me have wisdom only gained from life experience. Another thing I’ve learned is that it takes a humble, vulnerable, transparent person to make a good mentor.
There are a million “ministries” out there nowadays. Seems everyone has something to say about whatever they think they are an expert in. So how do you know if it’s actually a good ministry, one that will bring you closer to the Lord and bring unity to your family?
There’s no perfect answer, but you can ask a few good questions.
The first question, for me is: have they raised kids into, at least, young adulthood? Why do I ask this? Because I can look back on my own life and see how I just “knew” when my kids were young. I knew the right answer, I knew if you just did “xyz” then your kids would turn out right. I was happy to spout advice I just knew was right. Just raise your little ones like this and you won’t have issues. Just make sure to check all the Christian boxes and you’ll have kids who love Jesus. I’ve found a lot of humility over the years, especially because it just doesn’t work out that way all the time. I know this to be true for our family as well as many others. Strong, Christian families who love Jesus and did “all the things” with their kids and yet they have young adults who aren’t following the Lord. I see, all too often, this same pridefulness in parents who’s kids haven’t yet given them the rollercoaster ride of the teen years. Before they’ve been humbled by life’s circumstances, curveballs, and ups and downs, they won’t make good mentors. Pride blinds and causes us to spout advice before we truly can say, it doesn’t always work!
Are they focused on relationships or tasks? A tendency of my personality is to be task-oriented. I can very easily get sucked into the To-Do list and forget about the importance of those around me. But God repeatedly and gently calls me back to relationships. He’s the relationship expert, knowing exactly how to bring us into relationship with Him through His son Jesus and He wants us to focus on relationships too, more than anything else. So does this ministry put relationships first or do they focus on the To-Do list? Do they give you a checklist or want to truly reach your heart? It’s usually pretty easy to see, when you look at the order in which they place their values and goals.
Are they biblically sound? This one can be trickier to identify. Almost every Christian ministry has a focus or key verse, list verses on their web page and say they are scripturally driven. For me, it helps to forward a web page to my trusted pastor and have him vet them a bit too. An extra set of eyes can help you see what might, at first, be hidden. And, sometimes, you may not discover some Scriptural discrepancies until you dig in further and that’s ok. Just proceed cautiously.
Recently someone asked if I’d be a mentor of sorts to her. I was humbled and honored. I told her I don’t have all the answers, but let’s get together and get to know one another and I can, at the very least, encourage you and hopefully you can encourage me too! Let’s push each other closer to Jesus and walk this journey together. As I thought about it, the single most impactful “ministry” ever in my life was when a woman who was a few years ahead of me on this journey called life, faithfully and consistently met me where I was at and drew me into God’s truth and word at every turn. That faithful ministry meant more to me than any “ministry” I can find online! And, it’s actually more Biblical. And because you get to know each other well through it, you can quickly see if they are farther along in the journey than you, if they put relationships first, and if they are scripturally sound.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Titus 2:3-5 (emphasis mine)
So, maybe, the real answer isn’t even what ministry is best, but how can I, where I’m at, minister to another person? Who has God placed in my life to come alongside, to meet where they are at, and to encourage toward God?