From a Facebook post dated February 22, 2022, printed here with the permission of the author.
I confess that I must overcome envious feelings when talking with people who enjoyed the company and influence of their grandparents into their adult years. My grandparents were gone or lived far away by the time I came along. It must have been an incredible experience to sit in a boat while your grandpa taught you how to fish, or to watch your grandma bake a batch of peanut butter cookies from scratch (or vice versa). But it’s not about the fish or the cookies. It’s the close association and the stretches of uninterrupted time with someone who loved you and who were loved by you that matters. In case you’re wondering, I have just described one of life’s awesome blessings—something called mentoring. Like grandparenting, if you are highly favored, mentoring may be a gift you can both give and receive.
Recently, the world has officially gotten up to speed on mentoring. The Bible, however, contains many references to the ancient practice. Going back to foundations of teaching about the Godhead, we see practical mentoring commanded. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4–9, NKJV).You have a credible life. You have something to say, something to show, something to share. Don’t disappoint the desperate seekers of the very secrets you possess. . . . Someone is waiting for you. Go and meet them. Click To Tweet
In this instance, parents were responsible for mentoring their children, but outside the home, elders were also seen as mentors. The most celebrated case involved Elijah and Elisha. (See II Kings 2:9–14.) The Proverbs repeatedly refers to the mentoring process. We find one representative verse in Proverbs 1:5: “A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5, NKJV).
Jesus utilized mentoring as His default discipleship method. “And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’” (Matthew 4:18–22, NKJV). Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, in writing their accounts of the life of Jesus, incorporated the nuts and bolts of their mentoring experience almost exclusively. In fact, the entire gospel narrative serves as an excellent guide for successful mentoring. This is the way Paul taught his protégés: “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9, NKJV).
The secular definition of mentoring fulfills a worthwhile, practical pursuit to life. “Mentoring is sharing knowledge, skills and life experience to guide another towards reaching their full potential; it’s a journey of shared discovery” (Mentor Support Network).
Mentors do more than tell. They show. They demonstrate. They put into practice the concepts that they believe in their heart.
This view has a certain value, but spiritual mentoring enjoys the infinitely greater value of anointing. When someone pours his or her life into another person, it has the touch of divine guidance, of a cultivated relationship with Jesus Christ, and opens a shared vault of distilled scriptural knowledge tempered by experience. Mentors do more than tell. They show. They demonstrate. They put into practice the concepts that they believe in their heart. When a speaker, however glib, stops talking, words are all you have left. When a mentor completes his or her performance, you can sink your teeth into something real and substantial.
If you need training, go to church. Attach yourself to a mature, seasoned Christian whose life exemplifies the essence of Christianity. Listen to the instruction you receive. Observe the actions and reactions, the attitude and demeanor, the routines and habits of this person. You will get more training with greater understanding than you will ever glean from books or websites. Any book I read or write will always be inferior to an actual real-life performance before me. It is in the crucible of life experiences that true credibility emerges for all to see. But even beyond this, you will develop a relationship with a person you love and respect that will live on past the mentoring stage. That is a lifetime gift that keeps on giving.
Or maybe you need to be a mentor yourself. You have a credible life. You have something to say, something to show, something to share. Don’t disappoint the desperate seekers of the very secrets you possess. Don’t allow your treasure to die on the vine, hidden away from hungry youth, from struggling novices, from hopeful disciples. Step up and let your voice be heard. The church birthed you. Now the church needs your input to grow ever stronger.
Someone is waiting for you. Go and meet them.
Resources and Links by J. Mark Jordan
The View from the Back of the Pulpit
They Probably Told Me but I Wasn’t Listening
Every Day Jesus: Growing Daily in Your Relationship with Jesus
Living and Leading in Ministry
Learning and Leading in Ministry