Fundamentals of Biblical Discipleship Part 4: Spheres of mentoring: Layman to Layman
I am deeply burdened to see pastors develop a biblical philosophy and practice of mentoring in the local church, but the pastor is not the only member in the body responsible to have a biblical philosophy and practice of mentoring. Mentoring ought to be a way of life for every maturing believer in the church. Rather than relaying the practice of local church pastoral mentoring, I would like to take a quick survey of the various spheres of mentoring within the local church that the Scriptures address.
First, older women are to mentor younger women in the local church. In Titus 2, Paul commands Titus to exhort aged men and women to be sound in the faith. Notice the reason that Paul commands this soundness in the church. “that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Spiritually maturing women are responsible in the church to both pattern godliness and teach godliness to women who are young both in the Lord and in years.
Secondly, older men are to mentor younger men in the local church. In the same passage, Paul exhorts Titus to teach the “aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.” The result of this godly pattern was that “In all things [older men would teach the younger men by showing] a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” Like women who are sound in the faith, men who are sound in the faith are also exhorted to teach and mentor younger men.
Thirdly, fathers are commanded to mentor their children. In Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21, fathers are commanded not to provoke their children to wrath or discouragement. The Ephesians 6 passage is interesting because it not only commands us not to “provoke our children to wrath: but [we are to] bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The phrase, “bringing them up,” means to bring them up to maturity. This phrase describes both the goal and the duration of mentoring. The word “nurture” means the whole training or education of the child. This word emphasizes the means of educating, disciplining, and training as one mentors his children. The word “admonition” means exhortation and is the word from which we get the phrase “pneuthetic counseling.” Fathers have a serious God-given responsibility to mentor their children to maturity.
Lastly, every maturing member of the body has the responsibility to mentor those in the body who are young in the faith. Hebrews 5:11-6:1 says that “when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.” Notice the phrase in this passage that emphasizes the responsibility of every believer. “Ye ought to be teachers.” Every believer must be skillful in his ability to handle the word of God, steadily growing in maturity, and teaching others the basics of the faith.
I want to challenge each person to recognize his God-given responsibility to mentor those within his sphere of influence. The pastor is not to be the only member in the body who is involved in mentoring. He is to be one among many. Mentoring others in the faith is hard work, yet it is a wonderful blessing. Will you seize your opportunities as the Lord gives you opportunity till He returns?