As I prepare to teach a lesson to my staff tomorrow, on mentoring, I just wanted to think through the process and write out what I want to teach. I love the practicality of God’s Word and I love teaching it to others because, as a teacher, I get to learn the material twice.
I. God initiates the mentoring relationship with us
Once we come to Christ, we realize that we were not searching for God, in fact, He was already there waiting for us, leading us to Himself. God wants to mentor us and He took the first step by creating us and then He wrote His love letter to us, His Word, the Bible. As we open the Word and dig into it, we quickly find that God has a plethora of information that He wants to share with us. I would like to examine the idea of mentoring (discipling) as laid out in God’s Word. The psalmist, David, understood this truth and as he was led by the Spirit of God, he penned these words for us.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go ; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. (Psalm 32)
God wrote this out for us and calls us to discover it. He wants to instruct us. The word instruct in the original Hebrew is “to provoke our minds”. As we read His Word and come face to face with His truth, He challenges our way of thinking, even everything that we have been taught. Once He gets our attention, He then wants to teach us. The idea that is attached to this word teaching in the Hebrew language, is to shoot information into your mind like an archer’s arrow. God gets your attention and then puts a big target on your head. Now that He has your attention, His Word becomes like an arrow penetrating your mind. This information deals with the way that you live your life day by day. God does not just give you the information so that your head can swell. He gives you the information so that your life will be positively impacted. He also does not just give us His Word and tell us to figure it out. He counsels us step by step showing us how to apply His Word and live life the way that He intended. David goes on to teach us in another Psalm, 121, that God is there with us every step of the way. As our mentor, God becomes the shadow to our right hand, which means that He hovers above us at all times. He is our protector. He guards our souls when we follow His teachings. He protects us from evil and does not let us fall even if we slip now and then.
II. My part is to be open to being mentored by God
According to the two Psalms that we just read, God will always do His part and I have to do mine. If someone offers to mentor me then my part is to receive the offer with arms wide open. I must answer God’s call and challenge. I need to open God’s Word and dig in to what He has for me. I must have a teachable spirit. As I begin to apply God’s Word and see change take place in my life, I will have a desire to mentor someone else, using the same methods that I have discovered in God’s Word. I want to get the people around me face to face with God’s Truth. I want to be an example for them to follow. I want to teach others how to know God’s Word and help them apply It to their own lives, walking them through the process of being mentored. When people come to me and ask for advice, I will advise them from God’s Word and not according to what I “think, feel, or believe”. God wants to be their counselor as He is for me. I do not want people to depend on me, I want them to learn to depend on the One whom I depend. As I invest in others, I begin to spend more and more time with them, doing life together so that I can positively influence them the way that God has positively influenced me. As I invest more and more in the people around me, I will begin to see how I can protect them from evil and take part in the process of keeping their souls. Ultimately, that is God’s job but if I have been mentored by Him, then He invites me to collaborate with Him.
III. A practical example; Paul and Timothy
Paul was mentored by the Lord, Himself, and he put the teachings that we just learned into practice with his disciple, Timothy. I would like to take a look at something that Paul wrote to Timothy and see if what he wrote lines up with what David wrote, years before, as he was being mentored by God.
10 Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra ; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness ; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3)
Paul did not lead Timothy to faith in Christ. That happened as a result of his faithful grandmother and mother. When Paul met Timothy, he already had an outstanding reputation. Paul just took him under his wing and mentored him, teaching him how to serve the Lord and make disciples. Paul starts off with teaching, which is exactly what God does when He mentors us. Paul taught Timothy the Word of God and how to serve according to It. The teaching influenced Timothy’s conduct, just like God’s teaching influenced David’s way of life (conduct). As Timothy was learning from Paul, he attained a purpose in life; to serve the Lord by making disciples of the people around him. As he served, his faith increased and he learned how to have faith by being with Paul. I have been in situations when I must confess, I did not believe that things would work out. I did not see hope or light at the end of the tunnel. My mentor did have faith and encouraged me to do the same. I trusted him and it happened just as we hoped. That definitely increased my faith. The more that you serve and teach others to serve, the greater patience you need to endure the growing pains of your disciples. As you endure, your love for the people around you also increases. Paul took advantage of the User’s Guide that God has given to us, His Word. As we are mentored and mentor others, we stay in constant contact with the Word of God and this is very beneficial to us because as He teaches us, we get rebuked. The word rebuke means to be shown where you are wrong. Many times we think that we are right until someone pulls back the curtain to show us how wrong we are. God does this for us in His Word. Once we understand that we are wrong and need to be corrected, God corrects us via His Word. He does not leave us in our mess and mistakes. Once He sets us back on the right path, He trains us to stay there, also via His Word. As we walk on His path, He equips us to serve Him by serving the people around us. It is a beautiful plan for our spiritual walk and God has wanted that from the very beginning, even before we were born.
Have you answered God’s call to be mentored by Him? Are you spending time in His Word so that He can teach you, rebuke you, correct you, and train you? Are you seeking to mentor the people whom God has placed in your life? When people come to you for advice, whose advice do you give, yours or God’s? Are you intentional about mentoring people who in turn will mentor others? Do you cause your disciples to depend on you or on God? Are you teaching them to stand on God’s Word and serve the way that you do? Do you have a Paul in your life and a Timothy in your life?