If you have been struggling with finding a mentor, let me give you three suggestions:
- Pick Up a BookWhether you buy, download or borrow—you need to get your hands on great books. Don’t know where to start? We have a whole page on our website of recommended resources.
If I am thinking about how I can grow as a godly husband, I might schedule an appointment with Paul Tripp, who I have met with many times (though he has no idea), and have him ask me, What Did You Expect? When I find myself struggling with understanding the nature and effects of sin, I meet with my friend Wayne Grudem and his Systematic Theology. The margins of my friendship with Grudem are scarred with a thousand conversations. I pray with the Puritans in The Valley of Vision, wrestle with Calvin in the halls of the Institutes of The Christian Religion and marvel at The Glory of Christ with Owen.
- Have a Conversation With the AuthorWhen an author writes a book—a good book—he has started a conversation; one that he hopes you will join. When I begin reading a good book, I shed ink across the page like a wounded soldier in the midst of a battle. I want to leave my books bloody or be left bloody by the work of the book.
Use the margins to ask questions. Underline what you like and highlight what you love. If you disagree with the author, go to battle with him in the margins. When you begin to discuss the book with yourself, you transition from reading for information accumulation to spiritual formation.
Al Mohler has written an excellent article, “The Reading of Books,” that can serve as a useful resource when learning to have a conversation with an author.
- Reflect, Apply and DiscussMost people hate reading because they aren’t listening. They see words on a page instead of hearing a conversation. Don’t just read a book; listen to it. Reflect on what the author is claiming, arguing or asking. Ask questions like, “How does this look in my life?”
After reflecting on the book, attempt to apply what you found most helpful. If you are reading a book on worry and the author tells you that prayer is a key tool in trusting Christ during seasons of anxiety, put the book down and pray. You don’t have to wait until you finish to begin applying its insights.
Read the rest.As you begin to practice what you’ve read, do so in the light of Christian community. Let those Christian brothers and sisters that you share your life with know that you are going to be reading a book on fasting as you begin to exercise this spiritual discipline. Talk to your friends about the book you are reading on purity as you struggle with porn addiction.
My shelves are full of mentors—faithful friends who never replace the community of the local church, but serve to supplement my growth as I participate in the family of God. My shelves are full of mentors; would you like to borrow one?