Have you ever had a mentor? Someone who was further down the path of growth than you that encouraged you, supported you, and helped you to grow. Paul was the best example of a mentor in the Bible. Let’s learn about mentoring from him today.
Paul was an evangelist who spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the non-Jews. I Thess. 1:5-8 says: For our Gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction, just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the Word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the Word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.
A good mentor reveals Jesus to others by demonstration of power. When I was on a youth retreat many years ago, there was a young girl who passed out in a service. Several of us gathered around her and prayed for healing. She immediately was able to sit up and insisted on staying at the retreat. That demonstration of God’s power caused several young people to commit to Christ that week.
Paul also talks about assurance of who he was. A good mentor knows his identity and has confidence and conviction about his message. One of my early mentors was a man named Steve Cloud. Steve took me under his wing in his youth ministry at a large church. He had confidence in his ability to reach people for Christ. He encouraged me to take responsibility for a local high school and a Bible study. We began to reach teenagers at that school. I began to mentor a young man named Frank who became a spiritual leader at that school. Steve had a major impact on my life and was the best man at my wedding.
Mentoring produces followers. Paul had men who followed him around the known world. They faced all kinds of persecution and difficulty. Good mentoring produces examples of mentoring. I was privileged to be mentored by Peter Lord, for 17 years in Titusville, Florida. He gave me a vision for mentoring others, and we started a program called summer staff where volunteers from colleges and universities came for the summer to be mentored by Peter and other leaders and to reach out to the young people of our city. It was life changing to many of those young men and women. These men and women became Presidents of colleges, missionaries, and pastors around the world. They became mentors of many others.
Paul talks more about keys to mentoring in I Thess. 2:7-12 (But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond of an affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the Gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the Gospel of God. You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers, just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.)
You have to be gentle and nurturing as a mentor. Cecil McGee was another key mentor in my life. Cecil was strong about two issues-nutrition and the spirit filled life. I lived with Cecil for 2 years and he gently guided me into the ministry and eating right. I thank God for his input in my life. He shared his life with me. In verse 9, good mentors are not a burden to others. They don’t take advantage of the relationship. They work to support themselves rather than be a burden.
Good mentors are examples we can follow. A mentor for my recent life is a pastor named Dale Brooks. Dale has been a friend who is closer than a brother. He has encouraged me, supported me, and walked with me through some of the darkest days of my life. When I went through a divorce, Dale called me every day for a year with words of encouragement and support. He charged me to continue in ministry when others walked away from me. He cared for me as a father in the faith. He encourages me to reach my full potential in my Christian walk. I thank God for him every day.
How about you? Do you have a mentor? Write them a letter thanking them for their impact on your life. Maybe you don’t know how to find a mentor. Look for someone farther down the road spiritually than you are. Watch for them in places or groups which you are a part of. Then at some point, make the “big ask”. Ask them to invest in your life. Start to follow them (no stalking!)
It will be a life changing experience! Pray and ask God for a mentor or pray and ask God who you can mentor. Then watch and see what can grow from a mentor relationship.