Paul mentored many people, knowing that every person is different. Some mentoring is intensive and some is general. Under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, he had received a unique understanding of the gospel and the Church. His intellect, call and training gave him wisdom to counsel and guide others. Mentoring involves bearing burdens so others learn how to handle leadership. One challenge facing mentors is to replace themselves with other leaders. First Thessalonians provides a good textbook for general mentoring.
Paul included others in his labors for the Lord. Loving, feeding and training others is a mentor’s parental responsibility (1Co 4:15). Motivation for people who need mentoring comes when we include them in our work, demonstrating by our walk what we teach. To reach the heart of one we mentor, we have to give our heart with transparency and commit ourselves to go beyond mediocrity.
Paul included Silas and Timothy as participants in the teaching he gave the Thessalonians (1Th 1:1-5). Teamwork is a valuable asset in mentoring because those being mentored receive strength in the fellowship of learning to work with others. If one doesn’t live what they learn, they cannot lead effectively. We only really know each other when we share our life and load. Effectiveness in leadership is not an accident; it is the result of good preparation and a willingness to encourage others.
Paul’s Practical Ministry
A mentor must continually expose those he mentors to the Word of God. People only get a little at any one time. Commitment to prayer is often learned by praying out loud together. Accountability of both the mentor and ones being mentored includes trust and speaking the truth. The mentor has the responsibility to give biblical counsel. Teaching by the mentor must be meaningful, manageable and measurable. The mentor who patterns his life by the example of the Lord Jesus will definitely have a positive effect on those he mentors.
Paul was passionate about evangelism, living Christ, furthering His kingdom, and the fact of the Lord’s return (1Th 1:5-10). The Lord didn’t waste Paul’s background, citizenship, training, intelligence and character. God knows us and what we are capable of doing. Paul recognized Timothy as a “true child” in the faith. A right attitude and a positive outlook on the things of God stir a mentor to give his best to teach, guide and follow up with the one being mentored.
The mentor’s work is divine service even though there are obstacles (1Th 2:1-3). Participating in the lives of others costs time, privacy and emotions. We mentor the whole person, not just their intellect and commitment. A strong intellect strengthens emotional, physical, spiritual and social strengths in the one being mentored. They learn from the mentor concern for others, and demonstrate doctrinal stability, Christ-likeness in relationships and the seriousness of their calling. A person committed to God is the best model for those he seeks to mentor.
Mentors enjoy the Lord and respond to those mentored as a nursing mother in affection and care, as a brother in labor and fellowship, and as a father in comfort, correction and guidance (1Th 2:7-13). Paul’s character enabled him to build significant relationships with those he mentored. It takes time to express appreciation for what is right, correct what is wrong and pass on optimism and confidence. Expressing affection is important to those who are being pressured by opposing forces. True care and sensitivity recognizes individuality in each person being mentored.
Mentoring Is Ongoing
Intensive mentoring is done when the mentor has people with him like our Lord (Mar 3:13-19). Paul had different brethren with him at different times (Act 20:3-5). He taught the fundamentals of the faith and how to present them. Paul sent those he mentored to other places and strongly supported them (1Ti 1:3). He passed on to them the value of his own experiences (2Ti 4:1-8).
Training is not a barometer of spirituality; it is not easy, but not unpleasant. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me” (Mat 11:29 KJV). The mentor respects the freedom of the Spirit, so does not have a template. He allows for differences in temperament and ability. For every person, clear decisions are necessary. Progress needs time limits to promote the work designated. Problems allowed help one learn how to solve them. Prayer that opens emotion and conversation motivates honesty before the Lord. Prayer links God’s promises to the problems. A statement of purpose defines a specific work.
Mentoring Is to Be Bible-Centered
Growing relationships are more than a Bible study course. Knowledge from experience includes living what we preach, and prayer that is focused on the Lord, His work and His Word. Then the “things thou hast heard” (firsthand) and are “committed” (an obligation) “to faithful men” (a charge), and which we are “to teach others also” (an objective) [Act 6:4; 2Ti 2:2], will become real to those being mentored. The task is one thing and attitude is another. When we love people, we share the gospel, ourselves and our message.
“With me” is a principle in Scripture (Mar 3:14-15; Php 2:22; 2Ti 2:2) to pass on truth in devotional times, study, travel, ministry, exercise of gift and in public witnessing. Personal relationships are needed to “flee” sin and “follow” a full life that maintains “fellowship” by support and accountability. Have reasonable expectations.
Mentoring Is to Be Practical
Accountability necessary in mentoring includes study, an orderly approach to passing on truth, and practice. Accountability is helpful and healthy (Rom 15:1-2; Gal 5:25-6:2). Accountability is commanded and profitable (Heb 13:7). Accountability helps us see the big picture (Pro 27:17,19).
Mentoring Is to Be Prayerful
Paul’s mentoring was done with a constant awareness of his need of God’s guidance and direction. Three of his prayers in Second Thessalonians reveal his constant intercession as to the conduct and achievements of those he was responsible to guide (2Th 1:11-12). He wanted those he mentored to be worthy of God’s call and to be filled with goodness, faith and power, so the Lord would be magnified in them and they would demonstrate God’s grace.
He was concerned before the Lord that those he mentored would be firm and steadfast in doctrine and practice (2Th 2:16-17). He prayed the Lord would produce the love of God in them as the motive and principle that guided them in every situation (2Th 3:5).