I have sat in or conducted over a hundred interviews and eventually, the question always seems to get asked, "Who has had a major influence on your life?"
And from almost everyone I hear the same thing: authors and well know speakers.
But is this really the case? I hope not. I am reader and I love books, but the people who have influenced me the most are people you do not know. It was Scott Davidson, who taught me how to defend the faith. It was Nate Winters, who taught me about loving God on His terms. It was Matt Roberts, who taught me discipleship. It was Ted Rothfus, who taught me how to be a husband and father.
They are all men I know and who I spent a great deal of time with one-on-one.
Maybe our privatized faith has led us to be impacted by the sermons we listen to when alone or the books we read at a coffee shop. It is true that books make shape your worldview and help you think clearly about Scripture, but books are not going to model how to follow Christ. You need to see that with your own eyes.
Two of the men who spent a lot of time with me were discipled by Robert Coleman, author of The Master Plan of Evangelism. They related how Coleman never met with them alone to talk over coffee, but instead took them to meetings or on trip. While inbetween conversations and events, Coleman would then turn to them and say things like, "Did you see what I did there..." or "I spoke that way because Scripture says..." You get the idea.
Find a mentor who won't just meet you for coffee, but will have you over to their home.
Darren Carlson is the Founder and President of Training Leaders International. As President, Darren oversees the general direction of the ministry and serves as an advocate for pastors with little access to formal training and thoughtful cross-cultural theological engagement. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.