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Mentoring in the church is unique, however, because here the mentor models more than style or vision. Rather this is spiritual leadership even life-style and faith formation. With this kind of leadership, Jesus stood aggressive, competitive and controlling human leadership on its head. He said, Who ever would be great among you must be your servant. (Matthew 2:25-28) And, The son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
This, of course, means that spiritual leaders are to be identified in a radically different way and upon different criterion than leaders are usually recognized in other arenas: business, military, politics, athletics. Spiritual leaders are not necessarily to be admired on the basis of their business administration skills or their entrepreneurial leadership, but because of their shepherd hearts! Their servant life-style. Churches must not yield to the temptation to appoint leaders simply because they are men of high energy who get things done, but because peace exudes from the center of all they do. Biblical leaders do their shepherding by mentoring.
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.|
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.
HEARTLIGHT® Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
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