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Recognizing The Need For A Mentor

This is the first of three articles committed to showing some of what Scripture teaches about mentoring. First, we will look at recognizing the need for a mentor; second, at recognizing the mentor(s) for the need; and third, we will look at practical instruction for both the mentor and student.

Recognizing The Need For A Mentor

A church planter in Nova Scotia said something to me several years ago, and I have not forgotten it. He said “Men who think they know everything can't learn anything”. That is a great quote, mainly because it is a biblical truth. Proverbs 12:15 contrasts a wise man who is willing to receive instruction with a fool who thinks he doesn't need any. Before we can even begin to mentor or train others, we must first be aware of the need to be taught ourselves. Great students make the best teachers, but a major problem in our churches is that we have too may teachers and not enough students.

In one verse, 2 Timothy 2:2, we see three “generations” of mentoring. The apostle, Paul, instructs us right along side Timothy that before we can “teach others also”, we must first be faithful men who have been committed the things that our teachers were taught. It is wise for us then to look for areas in our own lives that need to be strengthened, and while not exhaustive, here are a few where a mentor will be extremely beneficial:

Bible knowledge - Peter tell us that we are not only to be growing in grace, but also in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Proverbs 9:9 teaches that wise men are not satisfied with what they know, but are still willing to receive instruction. The same verse shows also that just men will increase in learning. In short, we don't know everything, but we can always learn something.

Prayer – The apostles asked Jesus to teach them one thing, and it wasn't preaching, it was praying. “Lord, teach us to pray.” It is interesting when reading about revival, the most glaring common denominator is not the preaching, it is the praying. (More about that in the next article)

Family Relationships – God places a high value on the family. The first institution the Lord designed was the family, it was a family he saved with the ark, it was a family that God blessed with becoming a great nation, and it was a family to which the Lord Jesus was sent to be raised. You get the idea, family is important.

Finances – You may not be a “money guy”, but I guarantee the Lord has someone in your life who is, and it may be worth humbly asking for guidance.

Preaching / Pastoring – Some of us may not be novices, but that doesn't mean we're experts. It will be wise for us to seek counsel.

How sad it was that the apostle, John, did not feel welcome at a church because there was one, Diotrephes, who loved to have the preeminence. Diotrephes wasn't a student anymore, at least he didn't think so.

We see it all too often, men who live as if their way is right, and it seems to them as if it is because they are their own authority. How did they get there? By thinking more highly of themselves than they ought to think. How do we avoid that? By recognizing through Scripture the areas we need to strengthen, and by being honest with ourselves and about ourselves. We need mentors, people who know the Word of God...and know us too, and are therefore capable of helping us.

Before Moses taught Joshua, he learned from Jethro.

Before Elisha taught the prophets, he learned from Elijah.

Before Paul taught Timothy, he learned from Barnabas.

Before Apollos taught the church at Corinth, he learned from Aquila and Priscilla.

Before Peter preached to thousands, he learned from Jesus.

Yes, the need for mentoring is great. But it is not only a great need in others' lives, it is great in ours too.

Seek God, study the Scriptures, find the areas you need to grow in, and then take advantage of one of the greatest resources the Lord has given, friends who love you and can teach you.

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