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 authentic-I can't 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, andpartnerships 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 bymodeling 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 life-mainly 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.
Let's 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 else's 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 world-and even Christianity-is 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 too-to 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 God's 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).
© 1999, 2008, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, http://www.churchleadership.org/