L.E.N.T.

BEFORE YOU SPEAK CONSIDER L E N T
It is a privilege to be a biblical mentor. Although we aren’t Spiderman the advice his Uncle Ben gave him applies to us as well: “with great power comes great responsibility.” When we have the authority to speak into another’s life it is important to watch our words. As Christians we recognize Lent as a time of remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice and redemption. So the acronym LENT can be useful to check that your words lead the way towards christlikeness in ourselves and our mentoree.
So before you speak check your words and ask:
L : Is it Loving?
Does what I am about to say pass the “1 Corinthians 13 test”?
1 Cor 13:4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
– Is what you are about to say exhibiting patience with the person, situation, God?
– Is it kind?
– What is your motive?  Does this stem from comparing yourself or your mentoree   others, or to bragging about yourself?
– How are you saying this? In humility and with respect?
– Does it consider the other before yourself, do you need to be right about this?
– Are you being overly sensitive or are you annoyed?
– Does the motivation behind it honor God and point to Him?
E: It is Encouraging?
To encourage is to bring courage in. Encouragement is not empty platitudes but inspires by directing us to God’s character and promises. It may even hurt but never harms and is often hard but always good. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend”   Proverbs 27:6
N: is it Necessary?
Do you need to say this?   Are you putting yourself where you do not belong? Are you in the way of a person getting to God? Are you an obstacle or a bridge to God in this circumstance?
T: Is it True?
Does what you are about to say match up with God’s word?  “For everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:13, 14

Not Perfect? It’s Okay!

Psalm 126:5-6 Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

This is the verse that describes my mentoring experience over the last few years. I walked into mentoring others with a great deal of apprehension and feelings of inadequacy. I came to realize that God’s faithfulness to me and to them didn’t depend on me. There were tearful prayers for students and for myself. Each week of investing time, planting seeds of Truth, weeding out lies and challenging faulty thinking, unhealthy relationships, idols, sin and anything else that set itself up against the Word, led to an unspeakable harvest.

God did what God always does. He was faithful. He opened eyes, increased understanding and bound unlikely hearts together in love. Students began taking steps of faith that led to bigger steps of faith. They began to see themselves as poetic masterpieces, perfect and complete. They recognized that what they saw as flaws and imperfections were actually perfect for the good works that God had prepared in advance for them.

I have had several conversations over the past few weeks with mentors who are feeling less than adequate to meet the needs of their students. We have students asking to be challenged, mentors who are feeling overwhelmed and completely “challenged” by their students and a couple of students who have not responded well to being challenged.

There are a couple of things to remember as we grow with our students. The first is just that, we are growing together with our students.  We are being stretched beyond our comfort zones into a place that is unfamiliar. God wants us blind.  He calls us to walk that path by light of His Word.  God is faithful.  God is perfect.  God is adequate. God is able.    You are not perfect and will not be perfect in this.  It’s okay.  God knew this when He called you.  He works all things together for good for those who are called according to His purpose.  He brings the harvest; He controls the outcome.

 Be encouraged, my friends!  It’s not always easy but it’s always good!

 

 

Expanding Grace

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—Ephesians 2:8

Many are familiar with this verse which reminds us that without God’s grace, no one would be saved.  Salvation is a gift.
God’s grace does not stop there. People think it’s up to them and their power and control to be changed into the likeness of Christ.  This is not so!  Transformation, also called sanctification, is also a gift of grace.
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. –2 Cor 3:18  
Catch phrases like “I’ll try harder,” “I’ll get it next time,” “If only I had more self control,” “I promise I won’t do that again,” may be an indication of a too small definition of grace.
As mentors, we can help in three ways:
1) Help them to see their own powerlessness (We can’t.)
2) Help them to see how God wants us to rely on Him for all power (He can.)
3) Help them to actually depend and call upon Him for His power of grace (He does.)
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! –2 Peter 3:18
God’s gift of grace is seen in salvation.  It’s seen in sanctification. And so much more.

 

Who And What Do I Have To Be To Be A Discipler?

Matthew 28:19-21        Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to be a discipler?  Do you have your Bible memorized?  Do you have to have a sinless walk?  Do you have to have the gift of wisdom or discernment?  Do you have to have some level of education?  The answer is an astounding NO!

There might be many qualities that will help you be a discipler but the thing you need first and foremost is to be, yourself, a disciple of Jesus.  Do you spend time with Jesus so that you know Him more deeply?  Do you talk with Him?  Do you allow Him to transform you; your thoughts, your attitudes, your actions into the likeness of Himself?  A disciple of Jesus is the only disciple for Jesus.

You don’t have to know all the answers.  You don’t have to have all the good advice.  In fact, it would be better if you didn’t.  By emptying yourself of you, your knowledge, your power, you will be depending on the One He has sent. You will be trusting in the work and power of Jesus Christ.  You will be living the example of keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus and thereby pointing them to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.

Hebrews 12:1b-2a      And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Let us be, first and foremost, disciples of Jesus so that we can point the way for others!

 

 

 

Who Knew??

1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8, 12    But we were gentle  among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.  So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.  For you know how, like a father with his children,  we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

I loved the idea of being a mom.  My heart was full of fear, trepidation and excitement as I awaited the birth of my first child.  My head went from wondering what this child would look like to who he would become as a person.  It was all very exciting!  However, in my imaginings, I skipped the middle part; the years of training up that would shape and mold this person into who he would become.

I had no idea it would be so hard and yet I had more children!  Where were those sweet little  angels I had conjured in my imaginings?   Instead, I gave birth to children with a sin nature and a disposition much like my own.

I was in for a battle that God had clearly prepared me for but that I had not seen coming. But because of my love for them, I fought for them with consistency and discipline even when it would have been easier to just let them do what they wanted.  I fought for them on my knees.

I read every parenting book I could get my hands on,  I poured over the Bible looking for answers. As they got older we discussed the hard decisions and choices and consequences of choosing poorly and the rewards of choosing well.  I talked with them even when I knew they weren’t willing to take my sage advice.  There were days when I wanted to resign from parenting.

The same was true for me with mentoring.  I loved the idea of mentoring.   I imagined my mentoree as a young woman, eager to learn, willing to take steps of faith, sucking up the Word of God like a sponge and becoming a mature, passionate Christian.  Again, I skipped over the middle part.

Who knew the battles that would ensue for the righteous raising of others?   Who knew it would require so much time on my knees?  Who knew the agony and powerlessness of watching another walk down an unwise path? Who knew that through these relationships, my faith and reliance on Jesus would increase and my understanding of his grace and mercy would  multiply?  I did not know then and what I know now is less than I will know tomorrow.

Here is what I do know:  I grow.  Others grow.  We grow together.  God is faithful to the parent, to the child, to the mentor and to the mentoree.

3 John 4   I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Oh the joy!!

 

The Servanthood of Mentoring

1 Corinthians 3:5-7                                                                                                              What then is Apollos? What is Paul?  Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  

1 Corinthians 4:1-2                                                                                                                This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 

Whether you are new to mentoring or are a well seasoned mentor it is important to remember that a Mentor is a position of a servant.   And who is it we serve?  According to the  text, we are servants of Christ.  We serve Jesus by serving others…teaching them to be followers of Jesus and practicing spirituals disciplines that draw them into intimate, transforming relationship with Him.  We exercise faith and humble ourselves, sharing our experiences, struggles and weaknesses and through this, revealing the counter-intuitiveness of God’s strength being made perfect in our weakness.

Philippians 2:4-8                                                                                                                     Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Let us be imitators of Jesus and empty ourselves of pride by taking on the position of a servant!