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Making Mentoring Work

Mentoring programs have long been the practice of many businesses. They provide opportunities for younger, less experienced employees to benefit from the experiences of older ones. While mentoring has proven to be an effective strategy for longevity and success in business, the church would benefit from its application and implementation in the early years of a new believer’s life and spiritual formation.

Spiritual mentoring is one person investing in and coming alongside another as a companion on the journey of faith. Mentors help answer questions such as “Who is God?”, “Who am I in Christ?”, and “What is God’s will for my life?” A few examples of mentoring from the New Testament include Barnabas and Paul, Paul and Timothy, and Paul and Titus.

The mentoring relationship between Paul and Timothy is documented in the Bible for our benefit regarding spiritual mentoring. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul instructed Timothy to entrust the things that he had taught him to some faithful men, who would then in turn teach others to do the same.

What exactly did Timothy gain from Paul during their mentoring relationship? Well, in 2 Timothy 3:10-11, Paul wrote, “you know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings…” Timothy witnessed a life of faith, integrated into all aspects of Paul’s life.

In 2 Timothy 2:1-7, Paul focused on the potential that he saw in Timothy, and encouraged him along the way to develop those qualities that would be most helpful in his life and ministry, and as a leader of others.  In 2 Timothy 2:22, Paul’s advice to Timothy also included warnings not to make unwise choices and to “pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”  As a mentor, Paul felt the responsibility to point out pitfalls that had the potential to derail a promising life.

Persistence in life was also part of Paul’s advice to Timothy. With a life of experience in following Jesus, Paul knew that there would be times when Timothy would feel like giving up.  By advising persistence, Paul sought to prepare Timothy in advance for trials that he might face after Paul was no longer able to counsel him personally.  Finally, Paul served as a good example for Timothy to follow.  By modeling Christ-like behavior and wise choices in his own life, Paul set an example for how Timothy should live his life as a follower of Jesus.

Perhaps, like Paul, you could serve as a mentor as part of a discipleship ministry. Or perhaps, like Timothy, you could benefit from being mentored. Whether you want to be a mentor or be mentored, I would love the opportunity to be able to dialogue with you about helping you grown in the grace and knowledge of Christ.  :

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