Mentor: trusted counselor or guide.
“Oh my! This sounds suspicious. I don’t like the sound of ‘programs’. We don’t read of programs in the Scriptural Pattern. It sounds too ‘churchy’ and too ‘secular’ for me. It reminds me of one of those packages you buy off a store shelf and there’s not a breath of God in any of it!”
Calm down now. Don’t get your back up too much. Would you prefer the word ‘plan’ to ‘program’? Or how about the word ‘process’? That has a nice ring to it: Mentoring Process or, even better – Mentoring Ministry. The scary part of this discussion is that while we quibble over semantics, vulnerable Christians are falling between the cracks, falling off the wagon of fellowship and their full potential for the Lord is not being realized.
Joash was one of the kings of Judah. He got off to a rocky start. His close family members were murdered by Queen Athaliah. Aunt Jehosheba hid baby Joash from the sword and raised him in a protected environment. A godly priest by the name of Jehoiada spent hours and days with young Joash – mentoring him.
The mentoring program was not a mere 6-week course. And it probably wasn’t all that structured or sequential in its application. But of this we can be sure: it was highly effective and was tailored to King Joash’s needs. It worked and the approach that Jehoiada used has been eternally showcased in the Holy Scriptures.
Here’s what the reviews say about the program:
“Joash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him.” 2 Kings 12:2
When Jehoiada was instructing and counseling the young man he did well spiritually. When it came to an end (the mentor died) Joash went into a decline.
“Joash, did you read and pray this morning? No? Well, let’s do it now because how can we ever expect to do well if the Lord is not a part of our daily life. You know, Joash, I’ve found that God is to be not just a 911-God. He needs to be a very real part of your life every day.”
“Jehoiada, I messed up today. I almost skipped this meeting with you because I am so embarrassed. I not only feel dumb – I’m disgusted with myself. I am calling it quits. I’m a failure.”
“Joash, I’ve had my days when I’ve really disappointed my God too. I’m far from perfect. But now, what do you do? Joash, get on your knees here in my office and tell the Lord exactly what you did. Yes, confess your failure and ask God to give you strength and good judgment to do better the next time. I’ll slip out and leave you alone for a few minutes with God.”
“Thanks, Jehoiada. Something else that is on my mind: I’m praying about doing some repairs to the temple. What do you think? How should we go about it? What advice do you have for me? I respect you so much. You are always here for me – you can say things to me that no one else can because I know you love me and care for me and you have my best interests at heart.”
Creative writing – because the above vignettes or scenarios are not recorded in the Bible. But are they really that far-fetched? After all, that’s what mentoring is like. A positive and ongoing relationship, built on respect and trust, with a view to bringing out the best in the one being counseled, coached, shepherded and instructed. Deliberate mentoring and purposeful shepherding is, in fact, a very critical part of the New Testament Pattern for brothers and sisters.
Survival rates are much higher when people are actively and consistently shepherded and mentored. Thrival rates are almost completely dependent upon the quality of mentoring an individual believer has received.
Are there some Christians in your circle who are falling between the cracks? Are you using a hit and miss approach, marked by inconsistency and haphazardness? Or is there consistent and regular one-on-one shepherding being given to each of the developing believers in the fellowship?
Like many elders, you may already be swamped and on overload. If you are aware of a Christian who may be struggling or vulnerable, have you thought of deliberately attempting to connect that believer with a mature sister or brother – if you simply do not have the time to provide direct support? Could you review your directory of Christians in the local fellowship and confidently say each one of the sheep is receiving customized-individualized shepherding?
If you are feeling the need for a mentor – talk to a godly Christian you respect. Perhaps they have been shy to approach you, thinking you might think they are trying to intrude into your life. They would be honored if you asked them for ongoing advice.
Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.
Warmly in Christ
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