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"Mentoring: Refreshing, Helping, and Teaching Others"

Nov.17/13 2Tim.1:6-2:10


Around 5 pm Tuesday there was an accident on Hwy 4 south of Belgrave by Nature Centre Road. Wednesday afternoon, driving to Wingham Hospital for my weekly chaplaincy duties, I was aghast at the scene (did some of you see the aftermath?): a large tractor-trailer - a tanker - was laying on its side in the middle of a cornfield well off the road, with the tractor detached and sitting upright separately. But that's not the only vehicle that was involved. The news reports: "Police say a car was slowing down in the southbound lane, getting ready to make a turn.It was rear ended by a mini-van, causing the car to slide into the northbound lane. A transport truck heading north then hit the car, continued another 300 m then left the road and went into the ditch. The trailer rolled but did not lose its contents...The 43-year-old driver of the transport, from Central Huron, was charged with impaired driving.The 62-year-old driver of the car was taken to hospital in Wingham with minor injuries.The 16-year-old driver of the mini-van and a passenger were not hurt." It's amazing injuries were not worse - that COULD have been a serious tragedy!

Looking back, it seems a combination of factors made it "an accident waiting to happen". The snowy greasy road; perhaps poor visibility; an inexperienced young driver of a minivan; and - an inebriated truck driver!

But what about us - are WE "an accident waiting to happen"? Earlier this year our Elders requested a sermon on the subject of MENTORING. Is mentoring important? There's no such thing as biblical "lone wolf" Christianity! Howard Hendricks observed, "A person trying to make it on his own is an accident waiting to happen." Are you trying to make it on your own in your faith? Perhaps you're like that "perfect storm" of factors that caused that tanker to wind up in the field Tuesday! John Wesley said, "The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion -- watch over one another in love." Those who mentor act out what Jesus means in the command, "Love one another." (Jn 13:34)


What is "mentoring"? The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines a mentor as "Experienced and trusted advisor" (from the adviser of Odysseus' son in Greek mythology). Merriam-Webster defines mentoring as "someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person." John Mallison defines mentoring as "a dynamic relationship of trust in which one person enables another to maximize the grace of God in his/her life and service." Robert Clinton says, "Mentoring is a relationship through which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources." Or [my favourite!] as Richard Tyre described mentoring through the eyes of a mentor: "Mentoring is a brain to pick, a shoulder to cry on, and a kick in the pants." (!)

The words "mentor" or "mentoring" don't actually occur in the Bible, but like the word "Trinity" the basic concept is there even if it's not actually labelled. In Exodus 18(17f), Jethro advised his son-in-law Moses about delegating so he wouldn't wear himself (and the people) out. Moses in turn established an extensive mentoring relationship with Joshua. He delegated the command of the army to Joshua early on when they were attacked by the Amalekites (Ex 17:9). Moses took Joshua with him when he went to worship at the Tent of Meeting in Exodus 33(11); "The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent." At the end of his life, Moses solemnly charged and commissioned Joshua to take over - recall by this time they had been together over 40 years! Deut.31(7-8): "Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, 'Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance.The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.'" And in Deut.34(9), "Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him." There was a very intentional mentoring, preparing the less experienced person for responsibilities that awaited.

Women can be mentors, too! Back in the book of Judges we meet Deborah who mentors a male leader Barak who is reluctant to step into the role of responsibility needed: "Barak said to her, "If you go with me, I will go; but if you don't go with me, I won't go." "Very well," Deborah said, "I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honour will not be yours, for the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman." So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh..." (Judges 4:6-9) She showed him how not to be a wimp.

David and Jonathan demonstrate close mentoring relationship. At first Jonathan seems to take the initiative in providing material support and friendship, but David soon reciprocates with deep affection and undying loyalty. 1Sam.18(1,3-4), "After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself...And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt." Then later in chapter 20(16-17,41-42), "So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, "May the LORD call David's enemies to account." And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself...[And in one of the most touching scenes in Biblical literature] David got up...and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together-- but David wept the most.Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, 'The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.'"" They encouraged each other through hard times, and admired each other's courage and faithfulness to God.

Elijah the prophet mentored Elisha his successor. In 1Kings 19(19-21) we see Elijah come up to Elisha as the latter is plowing and throw his cloak around him; Elisha recognizes this as symbolic of a call, and after offering the oxen as a sacrifice, "He set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant." Then in 2 Kings 2(1-2) as Elijah is about to be taken up to heaven, he tells Elisha to stay behind, but Elisha insists, "As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you." His persistence is rewarded as, after Elijah is taken up in the fiery chariot, Elisha picks up the cloak that has fallen from Elijah and uses it to perform a miracle in crossing the Jordan. The legacy continues with one who had been trained.

Coming to the New Testament, Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, becomes a sort of mentor for Mary the mother of Jesus: after Gabriel makes the announcement to Mary, she travels to visit her older relative and stays with her three months. In Luke 1(39-45) when Mary arrives, Elizabeth helps confirm and reassure Mary's new identity, blesses her, and builds up Mary by saying Elizabeth is "favoured" by her coming, as well as commending Mary for her faith. Elizabeth provided a "safe place" for Mary to dwell at while such marvelous changes as her pregnancy were taking place.

Our Lord Jesus "mentored" all twelve disciples in a way, being with them constantly over 3 years, teaching and training them. But He seems to have taken Peter James and John into a special level of mentoring, preparing them for leadership in the early church. When He went to heal Jairus' daughter in Mark 5(37), raising her from the dead, He took just those 3 disciples with Him. When He went up the mountain to be transfigured, again He took along just Peter, James, and John (Mk 9:2). And when He was praying in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, Mark 14(33) tells us, "He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled." He shared his most special times with that inner circle. Then, after His death, resurrection, and ascension, the disciples showed the mentoring had paid off. Acts 4:13: "When [the religious leaders] saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." There's the key part of mentoring right there - "being with"! Sharing a history together, reproducing oneself, life-on-life.

One other example from the early church is that of Priscilla and Aquila taking Apollos under their wing. Apollos was very knowledgeable in the Old Testament prophecies but knew only John's baptism; Acts 18(26), "He began to speak boldly in the synagogue.When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately."

Other passages refer to mentoring in principle. Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Who do you invite to "sharpen" you, even if it means sparks may fly, or the "sharpening" makes you uncomfortable? Through whom do you sense God speaking to help keep you on the straight and narrow? Paul wrote to Titus (2:3-5), "the older women...can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure...[etc]". Again, LIFE-ON-LIFE. And 2:6-8, "Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.In everything set them an example by doing what is good.In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned..."As Paul was mentoring Titus, so he expected Titus to be mentoring other young men, by example.


In today's lesson, we catch a more detailed glimpse of what mentoring can look like. In 2Tim.1:16-18, look at the impact Onesiphorus (a Christian from Ephesus) had on Paul when the latter was in custody. Paul says "he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains." Who REFRESHES you, revives you, restores your "get up and go", your motivation for living? Who encourages you and is a cheerleader for you? Can you do that for someone else?

"Not ashamed of my chains." That implies solidarity, trust, giving someone the benefit of the doubt; Onesiphorus believed Paul was not in prison for any guilt of his own.

V17 "when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me." Mentoring involves real work, effort, in this case travelling far and searching persistently until he found the prisoner. Mentoring involves PUTTING YOURSELF OUT for someone!

V18 "You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus." When we commit our lives to Jesus, God gives us an indwelling HELPER the Holy Spirit. Then His love in us moves us to help others. Who in your life has been a genuine "help" to you in your spiritual walk? When Yvonne and I were parents of young children a long way from home in Northern Ontario, a wonderful couple (Jim & Marg Snider) came alongside and sort of "adopted" our family as honorary grandparents, making up in many ways for the real grandparents our children were such a great distance away from. Marg even came to Allison's wedding this past summer, some 25 years later! Effort, travel, "putting oneself out" involved there.

Chapter 2 turns the focus on Paul's mentoring relationship with Timothy. 2:1 "You then, my son..." Wait a minute! Timothy isn't Paul's "son"! Not biologically, anyway. Timothy's real dad was a Greek, not a Jew like Paul (Ac 16:1). But Timothy is sort of Paul's "adoptive" son through mentoring. There's real AFFECTION here.

"Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus," Paul adds next. There are 5 exhortations in these next few verses: "be strong" here; v2 "entrust to reliable men"; v3 "endure hardship"; v7 "reflect on what I am saying"; v8 "remember Jesus Christ." These are not suggestions but commands. A mentor can be frank with the mentee, telling them bluntly and matter-of-factly what they need to be thinking about and acting on.

Note the awesome SCOPE of mentoring in 2:2 - mentoring is a death-defying feat! Why "death defying"? How many generations are listed here? "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." Who's mentioned? Timothy (you); Paul (me); "reliable men" - the 3rd generation Timothy's going to pass the message along to; and "others" - the 4th generation the "reliable men" will mentor in turn.

Here's the key to Jesus' way - not Christianity as a "religion", but "making disciples who make disciples" - a pattern of caring, generations of relationships passed on, multiplied, enriching future lives with God's love, truth, and goodness in a lived-out way. If you want to leave a living legacy, if you want to be part of something truly LASTING - get mentoring; life-on-life.

I owe a big debt to Evelyn Kendall, Mike Wilkins, and Phil Geldart. Ev Kendall was our high school girl's Phys Ed teacher. Phil and Mike were two of her Navigator friends from University of Guelph. Miss Kendall sponsored a Bible study during non-class times at MDHS. Phil and Mike would come up from Guelph to Fullarton on weekends and lead more in-depth Bible studies for us teenagers. A couple of summers they invited us to be counsellors at a Brethren Church Boys' Camp down at Frontier Lodge on Lake Wallace in the eastern townships of Quebec. They kept in touch with us after we'd gone off to college. The hours they devoted to us youngsters made an unforgettable impact on our lives.

When you die and "it all goes back in the box" - what lasting impact will remain? Whose lives will you have impacted, touched with Christ's grace?


In vv4-10 Paul communicates about more than principles; he imparts VALUES. Mentoring helps shape another person's priorities, what drives them, what they're really after in life. To do this, Paul employs a series of word-pictures. Vv3-4 "Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs-- he wants to please his commanding officer." What's the PRIZE here? What's the goal that makes it worth "enduring hardship"? Pleasing the C.O., the commanding officer. The "good soldier" then won't get sidetracked, dabbling in "civilian" affairs / luxuries: one adopts a wartime ethos, like you're on rations, there's a discipline involved - saying "no" to what pleases worldly folk.

V5 switches the metaphor: "Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules." What's the PRIZE now? The "victor's crown" as in the laurel wreath awarded back then. To get that, the athlete has to show discipline, self-control, not cheating or taking shortcuts, but competing according to the rules. Living Biblically does involve rules, restraints against corrupt or unloving behaviour.

V6 changes the analogy again: "The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops." What's the PRIZE now? "A share of the crops." What characterizes a farmer who deserves to be first to receive that? "Hardworking" - that requires effort, not being lazy or slothful. It's hard work to read you Bible every day; it takes effort to get out of bed and start with a prayer and Quiet Time. But it has its rewards - knowing Jesus more intimately, getting grounded in Him and His cherishing of you for the day, so your sense of identity and security doesn't depend on what you can or can't accomplish during your workday.

And v10 tells us more clearly exactly what Paul's PRIZE was: "Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory." What's his target, his goal, that justifies being chained as a prisoner? He endures so much in order that the "elect" (believers, chosen by God to have faith in Jesus) "may obtain salvation...with eternal glory." He dearly wants Timothy to catch sight of that, to have that shared value, that motivation - to see other people saved and brought to God's glorious future for them, in Christ. That's a prize that matters way beyond just the few short years of this earthly existence.


In his book I am a Follower, Leonard Sweet recalls some of his own experience benefiting from being mentored: "Some of the best advice I ever received was from my college history professor...: 'Don't choose a graduate school or PhD program; choose a mentor.'...Win(throp Hudson) agreed to be my professional mentor, but he and his wife, Lois, did far more.They accepted me into their home, treated me as a son, and showed me without fanfare what it meant for a scholar to follow Jesus in his everyday life.Win and Lois invited students into their home for dinner every semester.Even when I wasn't taking Win's classes, he invited me to come and help serve at these dinners.Sometimes Lois (who taught elementary kids) would call and say, 'Some parents of one of my kids need some help.Want to go with me and find out what we can do for them?' So I would pick her up from school and off we'd go - sometimes to help with funds, sometimes to pick up groceries and diapers, sometimes just to visit.Win and Lois didn't say, 'We're discipling you.' They just integrated me into the comings and goings of their life and showed me the warp and woof of a textured life as a follower of Jesus."

Mentoring is worth the investment of time and effort. Like any investment, it has its risks, and it will cost you. But its reward - transformed lives, into which you've had the privilege of pouring - can be eternally satisfying. Who might the Lord be leading YOU to mentor? ...Let's pray.