Is Spiritual Mentoring a Biblical Idea?
By Lynn Anderson http://www.heartlight.org/hope/hope_990407_mentoring.html
God has written the mentor concept into human nature and that is why the concept is written into the Bible.
|“Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.”|
Jesus made his leadership style clear! He led out so that we can follow. He said, “If anyone will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mt. 16:24-26 NIV) When he cut our marching orders he said, “Go…teach…. baptize….(then) teach them to observe all I have commanded you.” In other words, “go lead people to Christ and help shape Christ-like life-styles.”
Paul the apostle also, spelled out mentoring as his leadership model very simply. “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” (I Cor. 11:1) “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice.” (Phil. 4:9) In other words, “let me mentor you. Let me be your role model.”
He reminds new Christians at Thessalonica to “follow our example.”(I Thes. 3:6) And Paul said, “we have made ourselves a model for you to follow.” (v.9) Example! Teach! Model! These are all facets of mentoring which is an indispensable tool in developing fully devoted followers of Jesus and in transmitting the faith from one generation to the next.
Not only Jesus and the apostles, but elders as well do their work by mentoring. Peter charges flatly, “be examples to the flock.” (I Pet. 5:4) And Paul explains to the elders at Ephesus, “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you”(Acts 20:17) and “In everything I did I showed you that by this kind of work we must help the weak.” (v.35) In other words, Paul is telling the elders, “I showed you, now you show them.” Bluntly: If a Christian leader is not mentoring someone, to that degree he or she is not living up to his or her calling.
Of course, God has filled the body of Christ with many potential mentors, besides those who are named as elders, or shepherds. And the official church leaders cannot personally meet all the mentoring needs of every Ted and Sally, Sue and Jerry and Jim. However, church leaders will automatically be mentors because, like it or not, people will look to them for spiritual leadership. They are “examples to the flock.” Further, leaders of the church are charged to “help the weak and encourage the timid” and to “serve and care for the flock.” And while it may not be possible for shepherds to personally, intentionally, hands-on mentor each sheep that needs mentored, they along with other church leaders are to help these needy sheep find godly mentors. To provide for the mentoring needs of their local community of faith, the leaders must be intentional, continually expanding the circle of mentors by “equipping others” to mentor.
However, whether or not the leaders of my church are mentoring me, I am called to be a mentor and to find mentors. You too. Again, let me challenge you to develop your GGTW list (Guys and Gals To Watch). Be intentional. Move in beside someone and build your life into theirs. And be intentional about finding mentors. Pull in beside spiritually exciting and mature persons that you admire and ask them to help you find a mentor. Who knows, that person may actually become the mentor you need.
Mentoring Examples in the Bible
by Drs. G. Brian Jones, Linda Phillips-Jones, Kevyn Jones, M.A., M.A. & Dr. Wally Unruh <ahref=”http: idea_6.htm?=”” articles=”” html=”” http://www.faithmentoringandmore.com=””>
Although the Bible doesn’t use the words mentor, mentee, or mentoring, it frequently refers to what we believe are successful mentoring relationships: Jesus and His disciples, Barnabas and Paul, Paul and Timothy, Naomi and Ruth, Elijah and Elisha, Moses and Joshua, Deborah and Barak, Elizabeth and Mary (the mother of Jesus), and many others. All are powerful examples of pairs and the God-inspired actions they took to help each other develop.
Moses and Joshua (Mentor and Mentee) aptly illustrate a successful mentoring partnership. Moses demonstrated the wisdom of a mentor by deciding to delegate an important task (Exodus 17:9). He placed one of his soldiers, Joshua, in command of a battle with the Amalekites over a water dispute. In making this decision, Moses demonstrated trust in Joshua’s gifts and leadership potential. He opened the way for their ongoing teamwork. This is the first time this “mentor” asked someone else to lead an attack, one of many that his “mentee” Joshua would command.
Did they sit down and negotiate this developmental relationship, calling each other mentor and mentee? Probably not. It’s more likely that Moses wasn’t cognizant of applying mentoring principles and didn’t necessarily regard Joshua as his mentee. Yet the ingredients of mentoring were there, and Joshua entered a relationship with a respected man that changed Joshua’s life forever.
Following this successful assignment, Joshua became a frequent companion of Moses. Even though he was called a servant (e.g., Exodus 24:13, 33:11), he was actually more of a colleague. (Notice Exodus 3:11. Joshua refused to leave with Moses, something that would not have been permitted of a servant.)Their mentoring relationship deepened, and Joshua gained valuable knowledge, skills, and confidence.
We find evidence that their mutual trust increased when Moses allowed his mentee to accompany him to an important meeting . . . with none other than God! (Exodus 24:13-14) We’re not sure that Joshua was actually with Moses in the presence of the Lord, but we know for certain that he was on the mountain (Exodus 32:17) and talked with Moses on their return to the camp. Imagine the incredible lessons Joshua received that day!
Moses took Joshua to another meeting in a special tent where Moses spoke with God again. Joshua chose to stay at the tent after Moses left to return to camp (Exodus 33:11). Joshua remained on his own in the presence of God. Moses demonstrated significant trust by not interfering in this major opportunity for Joshua.
Moses continued to offer Joshua opportunities to develop. He assigned him (along with 11 other men) to spy out the Promised Land. The mentor gave him a job that required a plan, teamwork, and a report (Numbers 13:16). Moses probably also provided some suggestions for how to carry out this plan.
Finally, Moses affirmed his mentee by commissioning Joshua in the presence of the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 31:7-8). He gave Joshua public recognition for the lessons he learned. What’s more, Moses conferred power on his mentee, and vacated his position to him. Their formal mentoring relationship ended. When Moses died, Joshua was appointed as the new leader of Israel and later took his people into the Promised Land (Numbers 27:15-23).
Moses provided a great lesson in how to transfer leadership. A time comes to either step aside to allow our successors to lead in our place or allow them to move on to a place of leadership elsewhere. Moses gave the proper direction, teaching, and recognition to prepare Joshua to fulfill his role in life.
The mentoring relationship of Moses and Joshua was very task-and-performance oriented. They provide clear-cut illustrations of several excellent mentor activities:
- assigning the mentee preliminary stretch tasks;
- depending on the mentee’s initial performance, making additional assignments requiring more skills and responsibilities;
- inviting him (or her) to key events;
- allowing the mentee to observe the mentor in action;
- affirming the mentee for achievements; and
- stepping aside to let the mentee succeed
Do you need a mentor? Do you need a mentoring program?
Do you want to be a mentor?
Please Read tomorrow’s second part on mentoring.