One of the greatest gifts that experience brings is the opportunity to mentor the less experienced. So in light of my 30yr status, I’ve been doing some reflecting on how I responded to mentorship in my youth. Sad to say, on many occasions, I have been far from the model mentee. One example comes to mind:

Several years ago, a pastor asked me to preach at one of his churches. He had heard me speak once before and said, “Will you preach that same message to this church?” Had he stopped there, my response certainly would have been consensual. But he went on to add, “…because I know that’s one sermon you can preach…”

In retrospect, I realize that it was my pride that was hurt by that remark. What? he did not believe I was capable of preaching more than one good sermon? Did he not trust that my preparations to speak were made prayerfully for guidance from the Holy Spirit in what to say? I felt slighted and underrated.

So, as any humble Christian would do [ahem] I entered into no small controversy about it with him. I would preach what I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to preach. Never mind that the Holy Spirit sometimes speaks through others. Never mind that he knew his church and wanted to make sure my first visit with them went well. He could not boss me around like that – no, not me!

With the gift of perspective now, I look back at the younger me and shake my head. How arrogant, conceited, and completely lacking in Christian humility of me. To presume to know more than a man of many years experience in pastoral ministry made full sense to me at the time. Who did he think he was, telling me what to do?

Thankfully, this pastor showed humility where I lacked it. “Of course you should preach what you sense the Holy Spirit leading you to preach! But if you find you need a message to fall back on, that one sermon I heard would be a good fit!” Perhaps it was my pride as I prepared the message that prevented me from discerning God’s leading me to preach that one sermon that time. But guess what; at a future occasion, that was the very sermon God put on my heart to preach to that church!

So there’s a lesson on what not to do as a mentee and how mentors can deal with punks like me.