I am desperately jealous of Josh Harris. Of course I would assume that there are lots of people who are jealous of him. After all, he wrote a silly little book about
dating courtship that must have sold more copies than The Prayer of Jabez and probably made him filthy, stinking rich. If my understanding of the Christian publishing industry is accurate, and I think it is, Harris must sleep every night on an enormous pile of gold, some of which was no-doubt donated to the cause by my little sisters and every girl I wanted to court date in high school. But Harris’ billions of dollars and gold-plated toothbrushes are not why I’m jealous of the guy. After all, a toothbrush made of gold will soon get covered in that nasty, white toothpaste residue, just like my plastic one, and I’m sure the gold coins dig into his back while he sleeps on them. Selling lots of books is probably not nearly as fulfilling as we might think. And of course a godly guy like Harris knows this. So let me tell you why I’m so jealous of the guy. I’ll get to it in a minute.
My pastor laughs at me. He laughs at me, respectfully I think, for my total commitment to the Doctrines of Grace. Sometimes in a sermon he’ll say something like, “In order to understand this passage, and Tim will like this, we need to be a little more Calvinistic in our understanding of God’s absolute sovereignty.” I think I am known in the church as being a guy who is over on the conservative wing of Christianity. And you know what? I don’t mind at all.
My pastor also laughs at me (respectfully, still) for unintentionally putting new staff members through their theological paces. Our church has planted several daughter churches and whenever a new staff member arrives in town (they are almost always imported from the United States) I immediately get to know the person, usually over a
coffee hot chocolate and donut. I am genuinely interested in meeting these people and, while I may claim that my interest in the person is based on my desire to help him get a website going, in reality I want to know the person and understand his understanding of Scripture.
It has taken me a few years but I have only just realized why I do this. It came as a bit of an odd revelation and one that is actually quite embarrassing to me. Still, because the nature of the Internet allows me to be safely removed from the bemused stares of those who read this site, I thought I’d share it anyways.
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.
I sat down last night to think about this for a little while and realized that, as far as I can remember, 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.
This brings us back to Josh Harris. Here are a couple of quotes from his website: “…Josh relocated from his long-time home in Oregon, to Gaithersburg, Maryland, to serve as a pastoral intern under C.J. Mahaney, senior pastor of Covenant Life Church. Motivated by a desire to be mentored and the conviction about the importance of the local church, Josh lived with C.J.’s family and immersed himself in the vibrant community of the 2,500 member body… In the fall of 2004, Joshua assumed the role of Senior pastor at Covenant Life Church where he had been serving previously as executive pastor. C.J. Mahaney who had trained and mentored Josh for pastoral ministry set him in the role that he had served in for 27 years.”
There is little doubt in my mind that part of what has made Harris such a gifted teacher of the Word is that C.J. Mahaney invested so heavily in him. I’m guessing that Harris would be the first to agree with me. Harris had his mentor in Mahaney, and I couldn’t think of too many guys who would do a better job of it. There isn’t much I wouldn’t give to have that type of relationship with a man like Mahaney.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not comparing myself to Harris, except in so far as we are both young, Christian men. I know that Josh is an exceptionally-talented guy and one who has a lot to offer not only his local church but the wider church body as well. God has given him a large audience and, from all accounts, Harris is using his talents in a way that truly honors God. I trust and hope that Harris never loses sight of the amazing gift Mahaney gave him – the gift of himself.
So here I am. 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.
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.
This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyways. I have nothing but respect for Josh Harris and any comments in this article that may have implied that he misuses the billions of dollars that came his way through his books were meant purely in jest. And Josh, I’m sorry to admit this, but I never read your book. It made me angry because I wanted to date rather than court. I probably should have read it anyways but I am hoping my children will atone for my mistakes and will read and study it when their time comes.