I just returned from a wonderful vacation with my wife. We spent a week in Branson, Missouri. It was reminiscent of the America of my childhood. I needed air in my tires (that pesky yellow light kept appearing with one of those annoying pings). It was about 18 degrees so I did not want to service those tires. I pulled into a Firestone dealership and inquired as to the charge to check all my tires and bring them up to the correct pressure. The attendant replied, “Only about four billion!” Then he pointed to bay one and told me to pull up and they would take care of me. I gave the young man with the air hose a tip. He shook my hand and said, “Thank you and God bless you.”
We attended several shows (all family friendly). The opening line at the first show was, “Welcome to Branson where we are not afraid to talk about veterans, God, and country.” We walked into a toy museum where two gentlemen welcomed us warmly even though we were not interested in taking a tour. We browsed their toy store where I made two modest purchases. I overheard the tour guide in the next room sharing his testimony with the tour.
Pam acquired tickets for the Andy Williams Christmas show at the theater he built, Moon River. The music was wonderful. But what really struck me was the mentor mentality evident in the late Andy Williams. The show was co-hosted by three of the Osmond brothers and three of the Lennon sisters. The entire show was built around Andy’s mentorship of these two families. He not only launched their careers, but he cultivated them.
During the second half of the show three teenagers, granddaughters of one of the Lennon sisters were featured. They sang and danced together and then joined with the rest of the cast. Both the Lennons and the Osmonds are now third generation performers who perpetuate the tradition of clean family entertainment that characterized the career of Williams.
Mentoring in Biblical Counseling
I had been reading and preparing to lead a discussion at the Biblical Counseling Coalition meeting in early December. With this on my mind, the concept of mentoring was bubbling to the surface. I began to think about Jay Adams and those early days of the Biblical Counseling movement. Names began to boil to the surface of my agitated mind: George Scipione, John Bettler, Bob Smith, Bill Goode, Rich Ganz, and David Powilson to name a few who have played critical roles in the movement. I was privileged to be among this group.
Jay Adams was a unique character and a unique mentor. He modeled. He taught. He encouraged. He would put you in a position where you had to think your way out. He was harsh. He was kind. He pushed but he was gracious. He played no games. He was generous. He was an exegete superb and he expected you to be the same.
All of this reminiscing jarred me to challenge all of us to mentor developing biblical counselors. We need to be both intentional and available. Intentionality means we look for opportunities to mentor. I have some 25 Lay Counselors (LC) under my oversight. My intentionality takes two forms. First, when one of these LC’s ask me a question I focus on their question and attempt to answer it with clarity and specificity. Second, I take the occasion of their question (once I’ve answered it) to inquire in more detail about the particular case and use this interaction to either reinforce principles articulated or to explore in greater depth their rationale for proceeding as they are with the case.
Whether LC’s or seminary students, I always make it a point to be available to engage in discussions of counseling or engage their personal questions. For example, on most days when I teach a D.Min. course (we teach all day classes) the whole class goes to lunch together. This has proved to be not only a good time of fellowship, but a great opportunity for mentorship.
Faithfulness, Not Fame
Perhaps you have not published or taught a class in college or seminary. Nonetheless, if you are a biblical counselor you can mentor others. The man who preached the night that D.L. Moody was converted would never be the leader that he became. But without him, Moody may not have become the leader he became. Mentorship is not about your fame, it is about your faithfulness. I have had the joy of seeing some who I’ve been privileged to mentor take what I have given them to people groups and places that I could not have taken biblical counseling.
If we are going to faithfully transfer biblical counseling to the next generation, we are going to have to become intentional mentors.
Join the Conversation
In your corner of the biblical counseling world, what can you do to be intentional about mentoring the next generation of biblical counselors?