The Lost Art of Mentoring

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts (Psalms 145:3-4, ESV).

A few months ago I read a disheartening statistic from the Barna Group,

…only 20 percent of Christian adults are involved in some sort of discipleship activity—and this includes a wide range of activities such as attending Sunday school or fellowship group, meeting with a spiritual mentor, studying the Bible with a group, or reading and discussing a Christian book with a group…Only 17 percent say they meet with a spiritual mentor as part of their discipleship efforts.[i]

One of my Christmas gifts this year was a set of Mason Jars with handles, to use for root beer floats. I immediately thought of the man who discipled me, Tim Thompson. The many times I went to his house he was always drinking sweet tea or Coke from one of those glasses. But that is not what I remember most about him.

At the age of 16 I gave my heart to Jesus Christ. I had lived a pretty wild life and had not matured very much as a 16 year-old. I got to know Mr. Tim when I started going to the Christian school where he was a teacher. I’m sure he rolled his eyes when he saw me walk through the door for the first time; I wasn’t exactly the kind of kid adults were excited to see. However, Mr. Tim took me under his wing and began to disciple this wild, immature teen who was pretty rough around the edges.

He taught me the value of knowing the Word, memorizing Scripture, and living my faith in a genuine way. He taught me lessons about life and maturity and how the Bible could be applied to every area of my life. He taught me about being gracious, real, and transparent and about trusting God in the most difficult seasons of life. Six years ago he was one of a few who stood with my family and me as we went through the most trying time of our lives. He stood by me, and helped me navigate some very dark paths.

I am forever indebted to Mr. Tim, because he took the time to mentor me, and I honestly have no idea where I would be if he had not. Sadly, there are thousands of believers who are not being mentored; they are floundering through life just trying to figure it out.

Taking Action

I don’t know if you are being mentored or not. Maybe you should be mentoring someone else. Whatever the case, we need each other. There could be a number of possibilities we are not mentoring or being mentored, but the excuses should stop.

  • Those young people don’t care about us old people; they don’t care to hear anything we have to say.
  • Those old people don’t have time for this younger generation. We’re different from them, and they aren’t willing to accept our differences.
  • I’m just not around anyone to mentor (or to mentor me).
  • I don’t have time.

  1. Find someone to mentor if you are mature; it is your obligation.

Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us (Titus 2:2-8).

Don’t look at the younger generation and assume they don’t care to hear what you have to say; they do. I have had several conversations with people from 25-40 who have expressed desire to be mentored by older people. Pray that God will send someone to you that needs to be mentored.

2. Find someone to mentor you; it’s worth your time.

I have never regretted the time I spent with Mr. Tim as he taught me about living my life according to the Word of God. If you need a mentor, pray that God will put the right person in your life to help you in your journey of faith. Don’t think the older people are looking down on you; they want to know they still have a purpose in their old age.

Whether you are the mentor or the mentee, don’t feel silly or ridiculous asking someone; just do it. Let it be natural; ask them to pray for you about something, or ask them to lunch after church Sunday so that you can ignite the relationship. I assure you that both of you will grow in the process.

This is my thanks to Mr. Tim. There are a lot of Bryans and Mr. Tims out there; I pray God leads you to each other. God bless you in your journey of growth.

[i] https://www.barna.com/research/new-research-on-the-state-of-discipleship/

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