Dec 17, 2008

Mentoring, it's a God thing

by Dan Grubbs

It’s interesting that today’s church, as hard as it works at small-group ministry, often misses Paul’s clear teaching in Titus about the older women teaching the younger and the older men guiding the younger men.

Small group ministry is absolutely vital. It’s there were the church experiences a profound blessing as the body of Christ. It’s a lot of what Act 2:41-47 is all about. But, why do local congregations have the tendency to make small groups homogeneous by age or life stage?

There is merit to meeting in fellowship with others going through similar things in life. But, this leaves out the more significant needs of mentorship, which is very effective when it occurs in the context of a small group. Today’s church needs to be careful about how it builds small group ministries and any limits it may impose.

Simplistically, discipleship is that growth and work we exercise in our spiritual lives to be more Christ like and glorify Him. We can’t rest on the fact that we are saved. Christ commands us to learn, grow and do, after that blessed work of salvation in our lives. But, that learning and growing and doing is severely limited if we rely solely on corporate assembly. We see this clearly in 1 Thessalonians.

Mentoring works

The secular world understands the results of mentorship. One of the most successful social programs I know is the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. It has helped thousands of young people grow into productive adults when the odds were against them. Are the odds against young people growing up sound in the faith today?

Business has even latched on to mentorship in its management training efforts. Businesses around the world understand mentorship and use it for succession planning. Companies will continue in their successful strategic plans largely through some form of mentorship. What legacy will today’s church leave to its younger members to take up?

I know there are many local churches with awesome mentorship programs. I’ve seen the lives of young people profoundly impacted by a caring and loving Christian mentor. But, without the willingness of mature Christians to mentor a younger believer, every program will fail. For, it’s in a mentoring relationship that the Truth can be passed on by teaching and by example.

Mentoring is a biblical model

A walk through the gospels will reveal Christ’s own example of how mentoring is the key to discipleship. Being who He was and understanding their future purpose, Christ took on 12 men for this purpose.

In this amazing mentoring relationship, Christ is the model for all who answer this call. He loved them, first. He guided them. He impacted their personal lives in everyday ways. He challenged them. He corrected and rebuked them. He imparted His knowledge of God’s will to them. This is our challenge to be the kind of mentor to young believers as Christ was to the Apostles.

Mentorship is also displayed in detail in almost all of Paul’s epistles. We need to emulate what Paul did and how he loved the people with whom he ministered.

Maybe at no other time in history is the need for mentorship greater than it is today. This is largely because of our mobile families and our normal mentors no longer live in our nuclear or extended families.

What should you do about it? Check out the biblical passages below to aid our understanding about mentoring:

Job 12:12 “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?”

Psalm 71:17-18 “Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”

Deuteronomy 1:37-38 “You also shall not enter. Joshua son of Nun, your assistant, shall enter
there; encourage him, for he is the one who will secure Israel’s possession of it.”

2 Timothy 2:2 “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit
these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

Titus 2:1-7 “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored. Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, wit, purity in doctrine, dignified.”

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