Mentoring

Adrian Warnock has been doing a “year in review” series, and one of the posts he’s dredged up from last year is an interview he did with Joshua Harris of *I Kissed Dating Goodbye* fame, currently the head pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD. I’ve always held a minor fascination for Joshua Harris, simply because he’s so close to me in both age and outlook, and because the last decade or so has brought a huge amount of change for both of us. When I hear of him, I’m often struck by how easily my life might have gone more like his, which of course leads me to reflection because our stations are currently so different.

The interesting thing is that Josh Harris credits most of his current situation to his mentoring relationship with C. J. Mahaney. As Harris was beginning a career as a public speaker, C.J. Mahaney met him and encouraged him to find a mentor and focus on the local church. Soon afterward, Mahaney became his mentor, and he moved into the Mahaney home. A year or so later, Harris published his first book and was married. In 2004, Josh Harris succeeded C.J. Mahaney as head pastor of Covenant Life Church. It’s a pretty interesting story, and yet it bothers me.

I don’t mean that it bothers me in the “dirt under the carpet” sense. I don’t see a thing wrong in the conduct of these two Christian men, and their relationship has obviously had a powerfully positive force in Josh Harris’ life. I mean it in the sense that the thought of going through a similar experience is entirely unattractive. My whole life I’ve spent thinking that it sure would be helpful if I had found a mentor. Now I’m looking mentorship in the face and I’m glad I missed out. But I’m not quite sure why.

I think it has to do with two things: adversity and independence. I approve of both of them, and Josh Harris’ story, at least in condensed form, seems to lack them. I tend to cut a path right across the grain to get where I’m going, overshoot, then double back again. When I hear the story of someone who has been properly mentored, it seems unpleasantly mellow, and I tend to think that, even if I had found myself in such a situation, I might have made myself unbearable to deal with as I questioned and argued with my mentor’s every recommendation. In short, I might well have avoided mentoring simply by being so unattractive a mentoree.

Which of course begs the question: is there wisdom in my negative reaction, or is it actually evidence of a kind of character flaw?

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