Jealous of Josh Harris ...
Now, now ... before those secret SGM visitors get all jumpy and get tapping on their emails to Newport, this is a 'good' and 'nice' blog entry. Hee hee. For once. I found this great blog entry that hits right at the heart of one of my deepest passions and deepest pains.
Yere bro, I'm really REALLY jealous of Josh Harris too. He's written a book on "courtship" - a phrase that makes me cringe every time I hear it. And yes - I confess, a book I haven't read and probably won't. But I'm not jealous of his authorship and fame. I don't even particularly care that he pastors a large successful church in the USA. I'm jealous of his spiritual father. I'm jealous that he HAD a spiritual father!!
"I am desperate for a mentor. I am absolutely desperate to have someone who will invest in me. I am desperate to find a person, or have a person find me, who will play Paul to this Timothy".
This could have been written by me. Wow. A little bit of history. I think the first time I realised that I desperately wanted a spiritual father was when a pastor in London took me under his wing while I was at university in Birmingham. We had EXACTLY the same passions and principles. We both loved and hero-worshipped Ern Baxter, we both had a desire to see Word and Spirit come together, we both loved Newfrontiers and Terry Virgo, we loved Gordon Fee and John Piper. We loved so much. And I would spend most of my student grant travelling down for weekends to London to be with him and his family and just learn and listen and sit at his feet and absorb like a sponge. Then he just ... vanished. (Not literally ... he was called away elsewhere to minster and didn't have time to meet anymore) And it broke my heart. But God had given me a taster of this spiritual principle of discipling!!
Then my pastor Dr Jebb, oh so graciously gave up many many weekends of his precious time just after I had moved to Bristol to have me down to Cornwall to do exactly the same, to sit, to learn, to grow. Its amazing - while his lectures on so many awesome subjects of theology were just solid gold - the most amazing thing to me was to hear him pray before dinner. He's always been a man of prayer and I felt that I was on holy ground when I heard Dr J commune with our Father. And again ... cruel cruel circumstances (or God's sovereignity!) dictated that that too fizzled and seemed to disappear. But again!! God had given me a further deeper taste of this spiritual principle of discipling!!
So in that sense I realise I am amazingly blessed because: I have never had a single person (outside of my parents) who has invested in me in this way. I have never met a man who was willing to challenge me, to strengthen me and to teach me in this type of relationship. Not one. I have had some great pastors and teachers who have taught me in a group setting, but never one who pulled me aside and really invested himself in me". And I have! Yes, they have been hideously brief times and I have mourned their loss again and again, but I have had two men invest their time in me.
I still live in hope and faith that "Father" will come along at some point. I get that tingle every time I sit under any spiritually alive, mature man of God; Virgo, Storms, Holden ... you name it. And I long for it. But I am so glad to read this blog and realise I am not alone. Probably the most painful thing of all in my 2 year experience in my previous church was the day by day longing for fathering from the pastor which never materialised. What do you do? Push for it? Some did. Ask for it? Some would. I tend towards the Spurgeon principle and just hang in the shadows and hope and pray that it will happen and my Samuel will come and ask for me. I don't mean that to sound arrogant, because God alone knows. Yet that amazing song from Brighton; "You see the depths of my heart and you love me the same!".
So I will end with and echo the prayer of this blogger:
"I'm not sure if I am writing this in the hopes that pastors and leaders will read it and it will help them understand that there are men in their churches who are just waiting and ready to be mentored. Maybe I'm writing it so even lay-people like myself will take a hard look at ourselves to find those men within our own churches who could be waiting for us to come to them. Or maybe this article is entirely selfish and I'm just putting my hand in the air and asking someone to notice me. I honestly don't know. As a bit of an introvert I don't think I would ever be that bold. What I do know is that I feel like I've come to a point in life where I not only want, but really need, someone to play a mentoring role in my life". (Liberty taken by me with the bold and underline key).
So I suppose this article is really a type of prayer request or maybe even is a type of prayer, asking that God would stir the hearts of Christian pastors, leaders and lay-people to invest in those who are younger than them, whether they be younger in age or younger in the faith".
PS: Adrian Warnock's seen it too ... http://www.adrian.warnock.info/2005/11/are-you-jealous-of-josh-harris.htm - and has added some really helpful comments and points of his own. This is an issue that hopefully will become more and more prevelant. A friend of mine from my home church in Dunstable and I went to the Westminster Conference in 2001 to hear Dr Stanley Jebb give an address on one of the Puritans, and a comment caught our attention during one of the discussions with those venerable gentlemen. They were discussing the educating of those hopefuls for the ministry and the question went out; "Where are the young men?". We felt like jumping up together and going; "Here we are!! Where are the old men?!!?".