Every young person who hungers and thirsts for the Lord and a meaningful life of service needs to be ready to accept the person the Lord sends to mentor them. They may not be the person you would choose, but will be the one whom the Lord knows you need (servants of God who are focused on the gospel are usually highly motivated people and may have a soft heart under a crusty exterior). Accept their affection and interest as it is given, not necessarily as you would expect or like it. Before the Lord, commit yourself to staying the course, even though the mentor’s personality and practices may be much different from yours. They’ve been on the road longer and have learned both through study of the Word of God and practical experience what works and doesn’t work in different situations and places.
One cannot imagine two more different personalities than Paul and Timothy. One was bold and open right from the beginning of his Christian life, and the other more retiring and inclined toward being a timid witness. Yet, as we follow their lives in the service of the Lord, we find that the things they had in common are the things that count. Both men had the heart of a servant, were available to the Lord and were teachable. Their differences did not hinder them from being “like-minded” faithful workers whose labors for the Lord were blended by the Lord.
Needed: A Servant’s Heart
Timothy was willing to serve Paul (Act 19:22). We serve God by serving people. You may be asked by a mentor to do simple tasks that you think are beneath your dignity, and shortly after, be asked to do a work that seems to be beyond your capacity. You are being tested not only regarding your skill and adaptability, but also your attitude and commitment. By doing the simple things and not complaining, by asking questions when you don’t know what to do, the mentor learns your character, and understands you know your own limitations.
Needed: An Available Companion
By being available to Paul at the beginning of his ministry, Timothy was satisfied to work with others who had different abilities and gifts (Act 20:4). He learned the value of other people and their thoughts as they engaged in the practical side of the Lord’s work. Refrain from comparing yourself and your strengths and weaknesses with others. Maybe some of them were more capable than Timothy, but he was the one who was still with Paul in the later part of his ministry. You will learn from a mentor his knowledge and skills through the accounts he tells regarding the Christian heritage, as well as from his experience and use of gifts.
Needed: A Teachable Spirit
One who is a true learner will seek to grasp all he can from watching a mentor’s way of life and his way of teaching, thus learning the purpose of the mentor’s life (1Ti 4:10-16). A desire to learn and ask for advice will mean being willing to put in the hours necessary to understand what the mentor is seeking to impart. The Holy Spirit will guide you to apply what you learn. It is then that the mentor will be able to send the one being mentored to do a specified work and be secure in knowing what he would do and teach.
Needed: A Caring Mind
Timothy shared the goals God had burned into Paul’s heart (Php 2:20). They had one mind and one heart in the objectives of the ministry to which they had been called. Openness in communication and expectations is needed by both the one being mentored and the mentor. Defined goals, long-term and short-term, help our understanding of each other when there are hard places and people to deal with. Now Timothy, his “beloved son” who was “faithful in the Lord,” was able to go to a difficult place like Corinth or to Philippi to correct and remind them of the one who brought them the gospel.
Needed: A Trustworthy Person
A person who has been mentored for some time needs to be given responsibility to carry out in a practical way what he has learned by observation and teaching (1Co 4:17). Timothy knew Paul’s message and manner of life and had advanced to the place he could be trusted to do what was needed. He was faithful to live out what he knew because he had been a “fellow-laborer.” The greatest need any worker for the Lord has is to take care of his own soul. Commit to a plan of Bible study, memorization, meditation and prayer.
Needed: A Worker in the Field
It is the mentor’s hope and prayer that those whom he has with him will have the capacity to catch the vision and approach to the gospel that is needed (1Th 3:2). Get the big picture of the Lord’s work in your mind and accept your obligation to pass on what you have learned to others with whom you labor. Timothy caught that from Paul and had the willingness not only to act on that himself but to pass it on.
The task is great and there is always the need to have a personal relationship with others with whom we labor, even if it is only occasionally. Workers are willing to expend the energy and time to promote the work of the Lord in spite of obstacles and opposition. They also recognize their need of others who will do the same work in the great harvest field (2Ti 2:2). Review with your mentor all that has been done, including the difficulties and defeats, as well as the victories. Whatever is accomplished in any work is because of divine strength and power, so always give God all the glory for anything that produces results. Review the failures, and let the mentor give his opinion as to how to avoid the same difficulties or how to deal with them when they come again.