Into Thy Word -
The Mentoring Need
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 2 Timothy 1:1-2
A young man came to me a few years ago wanting to go to one of our pastor training schools in another country. He was very passionate and said God has called me to do this. This excited me since we have a great need. But he had a major problem; he had no education or experience to do this. This is not always a problem; I had none when I first started in ministry. But he was not willing to be schooled as he put it or learn from someone. He said, God will just give me what I need. I was perplexed; what do I do with this guy? I certainly have a great need, and his call may be authenticI cant deny this; but he is not willing to learn or be guided. He has the trust factor down, but not being willing to be mentored will only produce noise and not Fruit.
Perhaps his passion and call has overreached sound judgment. I sat him down and explained why being mentored was so essential to becoming a leader and growing in Christ. Then I used my faith journey as an example. Yet, he said I was pee in his pool and was just seeking to discourage him. But, in fact I wanted him to go eventually, but he had to be trained and equipped first. I wanted him to succeed and make sure he could do it right. These pastors need careful instruction and learning from someone who has been there and done that. They do not need any glimmer of hope to be taken away by our foolishness. I told him we must be careful what we say and how we say it; as ministers of the Word, we need to be careful yet passionate to proclaim the true-Truth in truth, not in hear-say, heresy, made up statistics, or bad rhetoric. I said,
Peter, I applaud your passion and conviction; we all need more of that. But, I also want you to succeed! Add clarity and truth to your passion, find mentoring and support; perhaps these pastors can learn some things from you and you can support them in prayer, faculties, finances, training, accountability.... If you do not want to learn to do it, how can you do it or teach those to do it? Can you work on a car and fix it if you do not know how an engine works and what goes where? You do see the need, so you should step up and help in whatever way you can!
He just looked at me so discouraged, it hurt. I did not want him to walk away disheartened, but I did not want him to be careless and go where he certainly would fail and even be a detriment to others (Heb. 5:11-14).
So what could I do as a pastor? Well, I just listened to him more. Then I said,
Keep in mind I have been doing this for over 20 years; still, by far, I am no expert. I have lots of training and degrees, yet I am always seeking mentoring, discipleship, learning, and partnerships for myself; so it is not about me, it is about Christ. We must listen to what God's Word and others are saying to hone us and mold us so we stay on His track and not in our desires and pride (James 1:19-27). Without mentoring and support, our mission is of the self and not of God. Ministry is in the crucible of community and the Spirit empowering and employing us. If we seek to do it on our own, we only glorify ourselves and we will not last. I have seen countless people and groups come in, just as you want to; none are around now, none lasted more than a season. All they left is a sign to their mission saying it is not worthy of us, and they took their hope and went home. Jesus calls us to be a hope maker not a hope taker! Peter, listen to what people are saying to you; learn and grow from it; let it make you better and stronger because you are learning. We all make mistakes, I know I do, but we have to be willing to learn or we are nothing but a noise to God and to the others we think we are reaching (I sent this to him as a letter too).
He finally decided to start working more with the youth at his church. He is a youth pastor now. Hopefully, he will finish his education, gain some more experience, and then go with the enthusiasm and the tools to glorify God. We promote God by working together, and showing care and love by modeling His precepts and character! We have to ask am I doing this or am I doing "me"?
What is Mentoring?
Being a mentor is modeling and teaching other Christians the precepts of the Bible and Christian lifemainly prayer, doctrine, Christian living, and worship. It is the practicing of what Romans calls mutual faith, which means encouragement, support, and our spiritual gifts, all working as a team to inspire, encourage, and instruct one another (Eph. 4:15-16). This is the strength of the church; without it, we will fail personally and as a church. Mentoring has two main aspects: one, it is learning, and then, it is being a coach to the learner. It is the one-on-one personal instruction of the Christian life by word and example to another. It is being willing and able to learn from someone else who has more knowledge and experience than me. Then it is being a spiritual adviser for someone else who is younger in the Lord in age and/or knowledge, and thus putting time and practice into someone else. It is working and walking alongside someone, inviting him or her to learn from your learning and life example while you are engaging in a discipleship process.
Beware of the failure to hear the call of our Lord because of the noise of our will; this brings consequences in life, mainly, missing so much of what we could have had while others go without because we did not put in. Being set apart for the Gospel is to be totally at the disposal of our Lord and Master; this is what makes a disciple and mentor.
Lets explore this more.
When you are being mentored, you are willing to receive support, encouragement, and even correction so you can be the best Christ follower you can be. In this process, you can grow in your spiritual maturity by being willing to be examined so you can re-examine your own ideas, beliefs, and behavior patterns so your character can better line up to your call and the precepts of Scripture. When you have a willingness to learn, you can take your experiences as well as education of life and intentional learning, and better apply them. You can then use your gifts and talents to become a better example and have a more joyful and content life filled with His Spirit. Then when setbacks and troubles come your way, you are prepared and can deal with them and even learn from them. In so doing, you are being prepared to be a mentor in someone elses life too, as a beacon of light.
The key to a successful mentorship is to keep your faith with your eyes upon Christ, allowing Him to be not only Savior, but also Lord. We all need to realize that the worldand even Christianityis dangerous, and requires a level of faith that some may not be willing to give. Most people today think that becoming a Christian could bring loss and suffering. Or, they think it requires nothing. Both of these are very wrong. Christianity requires our obedience, reason, and faith to make it work; our faith will protect us from what we fear. Being a Christian is not just the liberation from sin or the Law; it is not letting our faith be cheap, so we can grow. If not, we will have envy or pride saying I do not need mentoring or to be a mentor, and thus fail at our call or falter at our tasks and in life. Remember, faith is communal tooto be better prepared and do our best with assurance in Christ!
Being a Mentor
As a mentor, your role is to teach and inspire by words and example, so you can come alongside someone in their personal development and learning development using your life, Christian experiences, and education as tools.. You are a role model to someone. This is a precious responsibility that is to be taken seriously, but also enjoyed. You need to be one who is growing in the Lord, and who takes His Word and precepts to heart and to life. Because someone is placing his or her trust as a counselor and teacher in you, you need to be real and growing to do this right. Therefore, you are the one the Lord will use to provide opportunities for spiritual learning, development, and growth.
Whether one is a mentor or one who is under a mentor, both need to realize this is a relationship and a process. It is about Gods Love and Fruit flowing His precepts into us. Each one needs to have the support to be a better learner and example. In some ways, we all are mentors. Every Christian will have people carefully watching him or her, many unnoticed by us. Thus, being a good example and operating In the Fruit of the Spirit is always a must. But mentorship is more than just being an example; it is putting into practice our new lives and being a learner as well as an instructor of the Christian faith (Eph. 4:29; 2 Tim. 2:1-7, 22-26; 3:10-16; 4:1-5; Heb. 3:12-15).
The Call of Mentoring
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2
Why would and should a more experienced and mature Christian walk alongside new and less mature Christians? Because, we are called to be imitators of Christ. The name Christian presupposes we are like Jesus Christ, receiving Him as Savior and as Lord as well as imitating His precepts. The name Christian denotes someone who is Christ-like; and what did Jesus do? He taught and walked alongside others to mentor and show them His Way. This means being an example of Him and then putting Him and His call and precepts in our life and into the lives of others. Thus, we need to be concerned with our spiritual growth as well as the Christian formation in the lives of others. The Bible is clear on this, yet so few Christians will undertake this vital process and even fewer churches have any visible program to do the most essential and fundamental call. So make sure you and your church are doing as Christ does; make disciples (Matt. 28:16-20; Rom. 14:13-23; 15:1-6; Eph. 5:1-2)!
Romans 15:1-6 tells us that we as followers of Christ have a debt to the weak. This means those who are convicted by Christ and are growing are strong and those who are new to the faith or have not grown are weak. This is not about condescension; rather, it is realizing Christianity is a growth process where we all start, just as a plant develops and grows. We ought, as in it is our call to do as Christ thought and demonstrated; we are to respect Christ and His call and His children. This is an obligation and a pleasureto serve Him for His glory.
We are not to be self-centered where we despise or hinder others who are more knowledgeable or condescend to those who are new or less knowledgeable of the faith than we. We all grow after we have had a start in the faith; even the most experienced, faithful Christians started out as spiritual infants and still need to cultivate their faith, whether they are eight or eighty.
The more experienced and mature Christian is called to walk alongside new and less mature Christians to help them grow so they can glorify Christ. In addition, Christians are to remove all aspects of pride and arrogance from their thinking and actions! This means we are to teach, be good examples, and to build others up in the kingdom of God. This is what Scripture calls edification, meaning being educator of endurance and encouragement of His example and Word, as in the Romans passage. As the Father sent Christ, so He sends us into the lives of others (Psalm 69:9; John. 4:34; 5:30; 8:29; Rom. 5:3-5; 12:16; 15:4-8).
In the early model of church as prescribed by Scripture, this was the role of a deacon, which is a type of minister or staff person in ministry who is in the office of a leadership role (Acts 6:1-6; Rom. 15:25; 16:1; Phil. 1:1; Titus 1:5-7; 1 Tim. .3:8; 5:17; James 2:15-16). These leaders must have the appropriate gifts of leadership, as well as the gift in their area of ministry (1 Cor. 14: 3-40; Eph. 4:7-16; 1 Peter 4:10-11; Heb. 13:17), all working together in love and cooperative unity to manage His Church effectively. But, as in any ecclesiastical model, this basically means those who are mature in the faith minister and teach those who are less mature and so forth. Its application means we all serve; when we serve, we are serving Christ, being His Hands in others lives (respecting boundaries with temperance and grace), and in the world.
The Struggle of Mentoring
When the Epistles were being written and the church was struggling to be mentors, the Jewish Christians were trying to force unneeded commands and procedures on the new Gentile converts. Thus, some of the churches were exercising their own version of lordship to the exclusion of Christ. So, Paul corrected them in Romans 14-16 and gives us a model to do this in love and make it work well. It is simple; just be a learner of the Lord and place your knowledge into others lives as well. This is what Jesus calls us, both the individual and the Church collectively, to do; real Lordship is following Christ as he said, making disciples. Being a mentor equips us to make disciples.
The mature Christian has the obligation, the imperative command, to disciple others with time, love, and patience. Thus, we cannot flaunt ourselves because of our maturity or lack of it. Instead, we are to be dedicated to unity rather than to strife and envy. The great enemy of mentorship is envy, one of the most destructive forces on earth, that will bring down leaders and ministries faster than the imagination will allow! It will also cause a church to ignore its call and thus, create a church of pew sitters and not disciples to be a force in the Kingdom.
Keep in mind that Christ's focus was pleasing God and helping others. He walked this earth as a mentor making mentors! What is yours? Pride is the other great enemy of mentorship. In Romans fifteen, verse three, which is one of the most quoted passages in the New Testament, Paul is quoting Psalm 69:9. Since God was able to deny Himself, it is ludicrous to think that our pride is bigger than Him, so we do not need to be humble! Many Christians act as though this were true! Our Lord, Who is God and Creator of the Universe, suffered for the benefit of others, to the exclusion of Himself. So how can we say, I am too important to be a mentor or too busy or whatever excuse we can come up with?
What Christ did and taught must be the model and pattern in our service to others, and the reason for the importance of being humble (1 Pet. 5). The Scriptures were written for us, for our benefit, for our learning, for our growth (1 Cor. 10:11; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 1 Pet. 1:10-12), all by divine inspiration! And they are not to be books piled on the shelf, dusty and its truths un-comprehended. It is to be sought, read, and applied, as being a mentor and being mentored is all about being biblical. We need to ask ourselves, do we acknowledge God's Word the way we do money? Do we trust others to handle our money, but do not trust them to disciple our soul? All this must transpire by our unity (Rom. 1:21-23; 3:23; 5:2, 11; 8:17-30; 10:8-10).
From our studying to our mentoring to our governing to our hospitality to our public encountersall must be done with one mind and mouth. We must work as a body, maintaining our individual personalities, but having a unified vision and purpose to glorify God. If this is not so, the result is chaos and strife, Satan's favorite playground!
- We cannot glorify God in the midst of envy and strife, or in the presence of anger and bitterness.
- We cannot be known for our negatives, for they will accomplish nothing. Our focus must be on the positive.
Being a Mentor comes from our Gratitude
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15
We as Christians have a debt to pay out of our gratitude for what Christ has done. We must consider reaching the lost as an opportunity to obey our call. The whole purpose of the Jewish nation was to model Gods redemptive plan to all of humanity. Now the baton has been passed to the Christian (Gen. 12). We are to be rooted in humility, as our Lord was (Mark 10:45). This means mutual acceptance of others, even those whose culture and beliefs are different. Yet, it is amazing how we Christians exclude one another over trivial items, causing many church splits and schisms! Thus people do not grow or mature, and our churches are filled with weak rather than very many strong Christians all because mentoring is not sought or accomplished!
Perhaps, we have created a poor reputation in the world. We often are the butt of jokes that are well earned. We do not realize this most important point: God accepted us. We, in turn, must accept others! Show His Love and Fruit! How do envy or pride enter in, and how do they prevent you and others from a mentoring relationship? A wild animal will tear at another animal's weakness and frailty. Do we do the same with others, and still praise the Lord? We all have to see that we can do mentoring! We can grow in Christ; we can become mature, we can be effectively used and have a worthy purpose in life and a life that is full of joy and content. All because Christ bears our stupidities, and has patience with us when we are totally undeserving so we can overcome what holds us back. We can seek the good in others, as our Lord did, and be a blessing to others. And we can beware not to seek self-gratification at the expense of others.
Did you know that it is impossible to be a Christian hypocrite, as it is impossible to be half pregnant? Either you are or you are not. The Fruit will show your true colors. The first century Jews were not selected to be the only ones saved. On the contrary, their responsibility was to proclaim God to the Gentile world.
You can be a Mentor
At whatever level you are in the Christian faith, there is always someone who can learn from you. The key is to be a loving and growing Christian. If you think mentoring is too hard, remember Jesus preached and modeled this. In doing so, He fulfilled prophecy and He can fill and fulfill you. The primary goal of our Lord has always been to sanctify all (all people groups, tribes, nations, etc.) people from sin (Rev. 7:9). He saved us not to be self-centered; He saved us to be His ambassadors whatever we are and wherever we go. Paul uses the Scriptures to prove this point in these Romans passages. In contrast, the people of Babel sought their own strength; the question is, do you (Gen 11)? God wants us to seek Him, meaning to place Him first, He who is the greater strength and purpose! And what we get is so wondrous: salvation, spiritual growth, and hope. Hope is the effect of obedience and trust in our Lord (Heb. 6:18). If you have no hope, then you have no vision or purpose, no trust in the One who loves you. Mentoring will be the tool to inspire and instill the precepts and character of our Lord!
What to Look for in a Mentor
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3.
To find a mentor for you and someone you can mentor to, be realreal in Christ! The key is to be growing in Christ and exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit. A person who listens is real. Be vulnerable and honest, which makes you real in the lives of others. A person who owns up to mistakes and learns from failures makes him/her real in the lives of others. The call is given and now it is up to you as to what choices you make; by being in a mentor relationship, you have the opportunity to grow and to share the values and character of our Lord, deepening your relationships and personhood so you are able to cope with and even grow through jubilations and the crises we all experience. The mentor you are to be and are to choose is all about being and growing in Christ.
Biblical mentoring is not about just formal learning or even being strong in your doctrine or knowledge of the Christian life. It is about being willing to learn and grow; it is about building a relationship with Christ so you can build up yourself and others too.
How can this be structured? There is no best or set way; you can do this by sharing life experiences such as a hobby or task. As you hang out, you can share and listen. You can have coffee and go over a lesson, read a passage and ask some inductive questions, read a book and talk about it over lunch; you can also have a more involved formal training. This is about modeling Christ, listening to one another, answering questions, and not being afraid if you do not know the answers, but willing to find them out. This is about sharing your life and what you have learned from Gods word and your life in it. Sometimes, it is just enjoying one others company. And how often? Mostly, it is once a week or twice a month, but it should not be less than twice a month to really build.
For us to be good mentors, we must have real, authentic faith. Our eyes, as well as our trust and faith, must be on Him. God must have us in Him, all of usevery aspect (Phil. 3)! Why do we need to allow ourselves to surrender to Him? Because we will face challenges, spiritual warfare, and problems. They are inevitable, unavoidable, and unpredictable, and no one is immune! How we deal with them is crucial for our contentment and conviction. And this is what speaks to others; your personal growth is the best word picture to a struggling will and mind. Testimony is key. We cannot deal with life effectively without Christ as Lord over our daily lives! Allow Jesus to give you the attitude of joy and the ability to persevere, so you can be a mentor. This attitude of joy is a key attribute in order for an athlete to excel on the field as well as for a Christian to grow in the Lord. What will you do? Surrender to Him or live unto yourself (Job 14:1; Psalm 34:14; John 3:30; 2 Cor. 4:7-12; Gal. 2:20-21; James 1:1-4; 1 Peter 4:12)?
If we respond to mentoring with a but, we are also saying but to our Lord when He calls us to Follow Me. Thus we may never truly follow. Without being mentored, you will never grow in the depths of His precepts or be able serve Him fully. If you chose not to be a mentor, you will be putting off someone elses spiritual growth too. Your church may be headed for trouble if a lot of people do this. It will remain in the status quo, saved perhaps, but uninvolved, sitting in a pew with no impact or reason for being a place the worships Christ. If you have doubts, think them through. IS TV or being too busy with trivial things more important than Kingdom things? Do they have more to offer you? Do they have a greater purpose or impact? Will they follow you into eternity? Life is short, so make the most of it and just go and follow Him to be mentored and be a mentor! Be real and be committed! Do not let hesitation or the pleasures of this world or your sin distract you from lifes greatest opportunity and adventure
His call! Embrace His call to mentorship with unmovable trust and be assured that His plan is the best plan.
Take this to heart: Jesus never asked anyone to do anything without enabling them with the power to do it. Let this be your encouraging motive!
Here are some passages to consider on mentoring and discipleship: Proverbs 18:24; Matthew 7:18-24; 19:28-30; 10:1-42; Mark 1:1-5; Luke 9:23-25; 48; Luke 14:26-27; John. 8:31; 12:20-26; 14; 15; 1 Cor 3:5-11; 2 Tim. 2:7; 1 Peter 3:15; 1 John 5:3.
If you need mentoring tools, we at Into Thy Word train pastors all over the world, and we can and will do the same for you! We have developed over 1,000 resources for you over the past thirty years; they are biblical and they work. Why try to do it alone? Also check with your own denomination; they might have resources too.
For more see: How to Develop a Mentoring Program
© 1999, 2008, R.J. Krejcir Ph.D. With The Word www.withtheword.org