In recent years mentoring has become a hot topic, not just in the church but also in business. Why? Because mentoring works.
There is no better why to learn something then by having someone walk along side you helping, encouraging, modeling and teaching you. You can have all the book knowledge there is to have but until you actually put it into practice in the real world it’s just knowledge.
Do a search on the internet and you’ll find all kinds of thoughts, theology and programs on mentoring. Seems everyone has an idea of how it should look, or what it is. (Including me!) So I thought I’d share what I’ve come to believe is most important about mentoring.
Imagine a body of believers where you find the older supporting, counseling, teaching, mentoring the younger. Mentors who saw potential in the younger generation and were willing to share their wisdom and love. A place that you can fail and make mistakes and not be judged but be loved and encouraged to pick yourself up and continue your journey, learning from your failure.
Imagine a place that others cheered you on to be the best that God created you to be. A place where you were taught to know God for yourself by studying His word for yourself. A place where deep, intimate, soul searching life and relationships happen. A place that would be “as iron sharpens iron” and a willingness to confront issues in love. Imagine a place where nothing was more important than to train up spiritual leaders who are mature in there faith, who know, live and believe truth and were willing to pour their lives into others. A place where leaders where made so that they could in turn go out and lead others to an intimate relationship with their Creator.
“So often though we find people encouraged to participate in church services and programs, Bible studies, para-church organizations, or evangelistic ministries in order to bolster his or her faith and “grow strong in the Lord.” The theory is that more teaching from God’s Word plus more ministry participation equals more spiritual maturity.” (Kreider)*
I think it just makes me busy and tired.
I mean all these things are important but the reality is that in many cases after you’ve listened to a sermon, read books, go to conferences and bible studies there is still a void. There is still a feeling of aloneness. Why? Because what we really crave, and need is relationship.
We need deeply intimate, nurturing relationships with one another that cause us to grow deep into our relationship with Christ. We need relationship that encourage each other to grow up spiritually. But so often we become “fat spiritually and fail to interpret what he or she is learning so that he or she can pass it on to others. This person doesn’t know how to meaningfully and sacrificially impart his or her life to others because he or she has never been properly parented. Without a role model, he or she remains a spiritual infant, needing to be spoon-fed by the pastor or other Christian worker.” (Kreider)*
I believe there are a lot of spiritually fat believers who are failing to become involved in other’s life in a deep and personal way. We, as those who are spiritually mature, need to help those younger know God for themselves. We need people who are willing to get messy in the relationships of life and walk along side of those who are struggling or failing in their walk.
We don’t need to point them to programs but to Christ and how to grow in the word and their relationship with God. We need to help them know God for themselves. In other words we need to teach them “how to” study God’s word for themselves. We need to teach them “how to” grow not just tell them they need to grow up.
We do need to grow up spiritually. But just telling someone to do so is just pointless. Or my personal favorite, hand them a book and say “read this”. Honestly it is very hard to do when so often we are left to our own devices. Reading a book, going to a bible study, or sitting in a pew is not, in and of itself, going to help anyone grow up spiritually. It takes getting involved in one another’s lives and allowing other’s to know our real selves.
Many of you are thinking, “who has time?” And it’s true, in the world today we are busier than ever. I think we have allowed the enemy to do his job well in keeping us so busy that we often find ourselves isolated. And let me tell you, from one who has tried, it is VERY difficult to live life by ourselves. I mean we would never expect a child to raise her self and yet that is, through our actions (or lack of them) what we are saying to the younger generation.
The answer to mentoring is not more programs, books, or conferences it’s just getting out there and doing it. It’s living life along side one another. Mentoring is not something you do it’s a way of life. It’s who you are.
You are a mentor. We all are mentors to someone. We just need to go out there and begin pouring out the life and love of Jesus into others.
How will you help someone today to know God in a deeper way? How will you come along someone and be Jesus “with skin on” in order to encourage them toward spiritual maturity?
Each day is an opportunity to mentor someone…
What for my next post on “Why We Don’t Want to Mentor”
*Authentic Spiritual Mentoring; Nurturing Believers Toward Spiritual Maturity. Author, Larry Kreider; Published by Regal from Gospel Light, 2008
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