[Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been looking at a few key aspects when it comes to understanding the role church leaders play in equipping the next generation. [In case you missed Part 1 and Part 2, you can find them here and here. This week, we look at the mentors of the Bible and the leadership strategies they followed.]
A mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser; a guide, counsellor, and consultant. He advises and trains, especially a younger colleague. A mentor shares what he personally knows — what he has learned. He is assumed to have greater wisdom, experience and maturity. He is also a caregiver.
In the context of the church, mentoring involves intentional shepherding; it is part of the discipleship process. In God’s plan and purpose, God uses others to shape, train, equip and prepare us for effective ministry.
Leadership gurus today use the term “people engineering” to denote the concept of mentoring relationships. Whatever be the contemporary usage and implications of mentoring in leadership circles, in its purest and positive form, we find mentoring as a vital leadership development principle in the Bible (though it is different from the secular models).
Where could one find a more able mentor than Jesus? His training of the Twelve is a superb model in mentoring. At the very outset of His public ministry, Jesus chose men who were willing to be mentored. His disciples were called, prepared and trained for their ministry assignments through the mentoring process of Jesus. This was a part of His kingdom agenda.
Jesus mentored and equipped these chosen men for their mission. This training by the Master was indispensable for their ministry.
Jesus mentored and equipped chosen men for their mission. This training was indispensable for their ministry
Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, Paul and Timothy are some of the other noteworthy examples of mentoring relationships in the Bible. The mentoring leaders trained and equipped their disciples. This is a vital leadership principle in the Bible which cannot be ignored either by spiritual leaders and their followers (mentors and the mentees). We must pay close attention to this divinely approved strategy.
It is sad to note that our vision for mentoring leadership is very minimal or even nil. Many assemblies are not optimistic and hopeful about the next line of leadership. Even in assemblies where able men have ministered and shepherded for many years, a future generation of leaders is not in view. It is evident that something went wrong somewhere.
Paul and Timothy present an outstanding model for mentoring relationships. Paul recognised the importance of equipping a successor to carry on the gospel work after his life and ministry were over. He was passionate about this mentoring mission.
His approach included carefully selecting and training the right person for the job and equipping him for the tasks of ministry, encouraging him in the challenges of life, and empowering him for fruitful service for the Master (this is true in the case of Titus also, and perhaps others who are not specifically mentioned by name).
In its historical context, Paul wrote his letters to Timothy to equip him for the task of leading and stabilising the church. This is a vital aspect of the leadership role to prepare the next generation of Timothys in Word, in doctrine, in practical wisdom, and in shepherding skills to be effective servant-leaders.
Many of us in leadership roles forget this vital responsibility in our calling — to be mentoring and modelling to those just behind us. This is an indispensable aspect of discipleship in the church. This is the only way godly and spiritual leadership will continue in a multigenerational setting, as described in 2 Timothy 2:1-2:
“You therefore my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”
A closer look at these verses reveal strategic truths for building generations for Christ to lead the people of God and to carry on the gospel mission. We will look at these in our last post on this series next week.
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