Archive for April, 2014

When you hear the word “mentor” what comes to mind?  Maybe it brings to mind a school teacher who stayed after school with you to help you learn your math.  Maybe it is a coach who spent countless hours with you perfecting your curve ball in high school.  Maybe, like me, you think of a man or woman from you church who you simply liked spending time with and watching how they did life.  I think too often we look at a mentoring relationship as some big glorified thing that we wish we had with someone but don’t really know how it works . . . so we never end up doing it.  I had a professor in Bible College one time say that “everyone needs a Timothy, Barnabas, and Paul in their life.”  A Timothy is someone who you are usually older than (for sure more spiritually mature) that you are purposefully investing in.  A Barnabas is someone who is more along the same spiritual maturity level who you walk with, try to encourage, and hold each other accountable (Proverbs 27:17).  A spiritual Paul is someone who is older and wiser than you who is, in essence, mentoring you.  Paul writes about this very type of relationship in his letter to Titus.  He writes in the 2nd chapter that older men are to teach younger men . . . and older women are to teach younger women . . “in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified,  sound in speech which is beyond reproach . . .

There is so much value in having and being a mentor.  There is no exact science to it.  It is not laid out in scripture like the 10 commandments, but the foundation is there for us to build upon.  If you are already mentoring someone, praise the Lord; maybe this will encourage you to keep on.  If you are not mentoring or being mentored by someone, maybe this will encourage you to consider the great value in it.  Here are four areas of life that you can impact the life of someone as you mentor them.

Meet with them

This may seem obvious, but if you do not plan to meet, you will not.  We are all very busy in life and planning a set time allows for putting it down on a calendar.   Set a time to meet (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) and make every effort to be there.  This can be in a formal setting where you meet at church or a more informal time where you meet at a coffee shop, or your own home.  The point is this . . . that you are face-to-face.  There is no real substitute for the physical face-to-face meeting.  Plan a time.  Get together.

Read with them

Before you meet for the first time you should discuss what you would like to study together.  If you mentor someone for more than a year I suggest mixing it up between a book (or theme) of scripture and a good practical book on theology.  It is God’s word (through the power of the Holy Spirit, mind you) that changes people.  Choose a verse to memorize together over a week or month.  Read and discuss a chapter of scripture each week (or when you gather).  Keep this part short (10-20 min).  You can also get a great book that is applicable to where they are.  Read a chapter, hit the highlights, and discuss how it can be applied.  The point is that you are mining the depth of God together, and you are helping them to understand how it works in their daily life.

Pray with them

                D. L. Moody was making a visit to Scotland in the 1800’s and opening one of his talks at a local grade school with the rhetorical question, “What is prayer?”  Hundreds of children raised their hands. He decided to call on one of the young men to answer.  The young boy said, “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, in the name of Christ, by the help of his Spirit, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.”  This was the answer to question #98 in the Westminster Catechism.  Moody responded by saying, “Be thankful, son, that you were born in Scotland.”  Prayer is something that is so simple, yet so profound and powerful.  Every time you meet, you should start and end in prayer.  Jesus prayed for and with his disciples.  Paul prayed with the groups of people that he mentored and taught.  Pray through scripture.  Pray for each other.  Make it a priority.  Make it genuine.

Enjoy life with them

                One of the best, and informal, parts of being a mentor is simply doing life together.  By this I mean just hanging out and/or having fun.  Going fishing together or grilling out together can be a wonderful bonding time.  There is so much to be taught and learned simply by living life together.  Some of the most important lessons I have learned in life have come from this type of informal setting.  When a person is a Christian, it should come out in every area of their life.   I am sure that John and the other disciples learned much from Christ that was never written down (John 21:25).  Part of being a mentor is simply spending time, asking questions, and investing in someone’s daily life.  The formal is needed (Bible study and prayer), but do not neglect the informal.  This is where real life application of scripture is shown and not just the passing of knowledge.

Mentorship comes in a variety of different ways.  Young children need mentors.  Teens need mentors.  Your 20-somethings need mentors.  New Christians need mentors.  Newly married couples need mentoring couples.  So, here is the question: where are you on this list?  Are you in need of a mentor?  If so, then pray about finding an older man or woman in your church to walk with you.  Are you retired and looking for a place to invest in the kingdom?  Find a younger man or woman . . . or even young married couple and invest in their lives.  Find your spiritual Timothy, Barnabas, and Paul and get to work for the glory and honor of God.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Student Pastor Adam B. Burrell

Advertisements

One of my biggest fears in life is the thought of having my four children grow up in a home where Jesus is taught, yet they do not come to faith in Christ. It haunts me at times. I believe in a sovereign God who calls and even woos his children to himself to be part of his bride. I also believe that man has a responsibility to place their faith (albeit a faith that is a complete gift from God by grace) in the Lord. I am a young father who loves God’s word, His bride (The Church), and my family. I have had the wonderful opportunity to observe other godly fathers as well as search the scriptures to try to figure out how to honor God in training up my children to fear and love Him. While we cannot make our children trust in the Lord, we can certainly train them up in a way that is biblical and practical at the same time. I have observed (both from other Godly fathers and from scripture) a variety of ways that I believe can do just that. I will list 5 practical ways in this blog, and I encourage you to take them and add to them as you find the opportunity through your own reading and observation. I have implemented these things into my own children (particularly my sons) in training them up in godliness, and I am praying that I remain faithful and “never grow weary in well doing.” This is my prayer for you as well. We will look at the first two today, and finish the last three tomorrow.

1. Teach them the value of hard honest work.
II Thessalonians 3:10b says, “if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.” In the very beginning of time God placed Adam in the middle of the garden and told him to go to work (to name the animals and tend the garden). It was not a hardship for him (before the fall), it was a joy. God has created men to be providers. To do this, a man must be willing to work. A good work ethic is something that we need to instill in our children. It is a characteristic of God. If we want our sons to grow up to be godly men then we need to teach them the value of hard work. Solomon (the wisest man to ever live) found it profitable to write about this in Proverbs on several occasions (Proverbs 12:24, Proverbs 13:4, Proverbs 14:23). Just as Solomon taught these truths to his sons, so we too should be diligent to do the same. You may ask, “How do you do this when you have young boys of 2, 3, and 4 years?” If you are doing something that you can have them help you with . . . have them help you. Let them see you working. Talk about work to them. While letting them help you may take the job longer to be accomplished, it is an investment worth making.

2. Spend one-on-one time with them.

One of the highlights for my children each week is getting to Friday morning when one of them gets to take the trash to the dump with their daddy. We make a “date” out of it. We make it special by stopping at the store before we leave so that we can get a treat. We usually turn the radio off so that we can just talk while we drive. We talk about everything their young minds can think about. The average father in America today spends less than 3 minutes a day (one-on-one) with his children. There is no way to invest in the lives of your children by spending this amount of time with them only. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go . . .” To do this will mean spending quality time with your sons. Do not be on par with the average statistic. If you are going somewhere and you can bring them with you, then use it as an opportunity to spend time with them. Spend time with your sons. It is not your time to spend after all if you are a Christian, it is God’s.

3. Teach them how to pray.

4-5 times a week my family gathers around our dinner table to have some type of informal family worship (prayer, Bible reading, and singing). God has given me the privilege and responsibility to do this (Genesis 18:19, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Eph. 6:4, Proverbs 22:6). I always open with a prayer, and my wife or I close with praying through the scripture verses we just read. Often we allow our children to pray and repeat the words after us. We purposefully do not dumb down our prayers when we do this. We want them to learn how to pray. When we pray with them before bed, we pray fervent prayers that they can hear so that they can see and hear what a prayer sounds like. When something particularly concerning is going on in our family, we pray. If you want your children to grow in godliness, you need to teach them to pray. James writes, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” If you want your sons to be spiritual warriors when they are grown . . . teach them how to pray. After all, this is what the disciples asked of our Lord . . . “teach us how to pray.”

4. Show them how to love, by loving their mother.

I often learn better by seeing and trying to replicate than by reading and trying to apply. One thing that is true of almost every godly man I know is that he loves his wife well. If we are going to show our sons how Christ loved the church, we must show them how to love their mom. Ephesians 5:21-33 explains to us what this picture looks like in the lives of the family. Christ loved the church so much that he died for her. Let your sons see you hug, kiss, and even show other types of affections to your wife (although do not go overboard with it, some things are just meant for you and her). They may find it gross or silly, but when they grow older, they will be thankful for it. Take her on dates, romance her, respect her . . . and let your sons see it. If they are to love their bride as Christ loved the church, they need a good example of what that looks like. Praise her for the things that she does well, and never tear her down. She is your bride, and is a gift from God. Make sure your sons realize that she is a special gift.

5. Pour the gospel into them every chance you get.

This is one of the harder ones. This is something that I still have to learn to do a better job of. However, the one thing that every godly man has in common that I have observed (and obviously scripture teaches) is taking every opportunity to pour the gospel into their children both formally and informally. The best place in scripture to see this command is found in Deuteronomy 6:5-9. Formally, you need to be reading, praying, and singing together as a family in your home regularly. This is good, and it is needed. However, you also have the opportunity to do this informally. I will tell you this: most of what I have learned has been caught, and not taught. This is where the informal pouring out of the gospel happens. Let me give you an example. When your son has a bad night playing baseball and you can share the gospel with him, take that opportunity. Tell him, “You know son, striking out at the end of the game is hard. It does not feel good. I am sorry and wish I could change it for you; but I am proud of how you handled it. Remember that Proverbs say, ‘whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty’ . . . Although it was not what you wanted to happen, it was honoring to God how you handled it.” Take every opportunity to feed your sons a steady diet of the Lord’s word. This also means, however, that you need to be living it yourself; otherwise you have the whole “log-in-eye meet spec-in-eye” thing going on. Of the five that I have listed, this is the one that is most important and sets you apart from just the average “good” dad that is not a Christian. Good dads (that are not Christians) love their wives, spend time with their sons, and teach them the value of hard work. However, they never say a word to them about the Lord . . . and their sons may very well die and go to hell without Christ. The gospel is what matters most. Be sure that you are pouring it into them, and living it out in front of them.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Student Pastor Adam Burrell