Fundamentals of Biblical Discipleship Part 4: Spheres of mentoring:
Pastor to preacher boy: Introduction
What is the key to cross-cultural indigenous church planting? Though not the end all, this next concept is critically important to the permanence in this wonderful work. The other day as I was nailing up shingles, I began to reminisce on the goodness and grace of God. I remember back to graduation from seminary, and seeking the Lord’s wisdom for the future. The more I thought and prayed about that important next step, the more convinced I was that I needed to work in an established local church ministry under a seasoned pastor. As I look back over the past three years, where I have done that, I rejoice that the Lord wisely directed me to that critical season of ministry. He wonderfully used that time to expose me to ministry, the good and the bad. I have been able to get settled in many practical issues as a result of that time, and become far more balanced and well rounded as I have matured under an older man’s leadership. I have been counseled through conversations, and I have developed a Biblical philosophy of ministry. The time spent has been so helpful. While I am only three more years down the road of that lifelong journey of progressive sanctification, I am far more adequately prepared to begin the ministry the Lord has prepared me to do in West Africa. I will not be approaching this section as one who has mentored, but as one who has been through the school of mentoring. There were so many things done well, and things that I hope to improve upon when I get my chances to do the same.
Mentoring men into ministry is a concept that goes all the way back to the Israel’s first leader Moses. Deuteronomy 1:38 says “But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.” Before Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land, he served Moses. When Moses received the law at Mount Sinai, Joshua went part way with him. God commanded Moses to encourage Joshua who served by his side for forty years. Much of Joshua’s success came as a result of the care of Moses. He learned as he served, listened, and watched. Think about Elijah and Elisha. II Kings 2:12 says that when Elisha saw Elijah caught up in a chariot of fire, “he cried, my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.” Elisha was mentored and served under Elijah long before he was a powerfully used prophet of the LORD. When he called Elijah his father, it was a term of endearment that was earned in the school of mentoring. Then I think of Christ and the disciples. The disciples spent three and a half years following our Lord and learning under His ministry before they spread the gospel message to the ends of the earth. Mentoring men into the ministry is a major theme throughout Scripture! We expect secular professionals to go through extensive formal and practical training, why not those who minister in the word and in doctrine? The following seven items are things that I would suggest a pastor to consider implementing for his preacher boys, as well as things that I would encourage a young man who desires the office of a bishop to seek to receive from his pastor: candidly present pastoral qualification; give opportunities to serve so spiritual gifts are used, exposed, and cultivated; provide directional counsel; teach fundamental local church practice; expose to others to provide balance; expect him to work hard; and lovingly expose his strengths and weaknesses.