God’s purpose for every Christian is that he or she may develop into Christ-likeness or godliness (Romans 8:29). But how can we be like Jesus, the Son of God? We find the clear answer in, 1 Timothy 4:7b (NASV), which says “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” It is possible for one to discipline himself through his own personal commitment, but they are few indeed in the undisciplined culture we live in today. Therefore, most people must have someone who will “come alongside” them to encourage them in discipline and also to hold them accountable. Such is the role of the true mentor.
Tom Landry, coach of the Dallas Cowboys, for three decades, said “The job of a football coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do in order to be what they have always wanted to be.” (Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life, p.18). In much the same way, Christians are called to make themselves do something they would not naturally do – pursue the spiritual disciplines – in order to become what they have always wanted to be, that is, like Jesus Christ. The spiritual disciplines are the God-given means to help us cultivate and develop our relationship with Jesus in our Spirit-filled pursuit of godliness. However, to submit to the disciplines, one needs a coach, guide, model, advisor, disciple-maker, which translates into a mentor.
We have mentored men for a good many years and are now working with scores of them in every walk of life. Wherever we go today, we hear men, young and old, lay and clergy, make statements like these, “I know that there is supposed to be more to the Christian life than what I am currently experiencing. I know that I am to be conformed to His image and to walk with Him but I don’t know how…somebody PLEASE show me.”
There are myriads of small groups in every community – Bible studies, prayer groups, seminars, etc – such ministries are needed and helpful; but for most people, growth and change simply won’t happen apart from a relationship with someone who will lovingly and sacrificially influence their development and provide motivation and accountability (Ibid.,p. 25). Mentoring meets this requirement. Jesus understood this truth very well and therefore spent most of the 3½ years of His ministry with twelve men. The apostle Paul, following in the steps of his Master, was also a master mentor. His slogan, also ours, is expressed in 1 Thess. 2:8, “We love you so much that we are delighted not only to give you the gospel of God but our own lives also.”
That mentoring is desperately needed in our culture today is demonstrated by the death of leadership in every area of American life. The eminent writer and educator, Dr. William Hendricks declares, “There is a great crisis in all areas of leadership in our country today, and the records show that this need will only be met by mentoring.” (see his excellent book, As Iron Sharpens Iron).
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