Last week I shared with you one of the marks of a mentor that we all enjoy: affirming others with trust. But there’s another side of the coin that’s just as important. Good mentors also address weaknesses. For example:
We pastors think of ourselves as those who mentor others. For a moment, however, put yourself in the shoes of someone being mentored. If you had a positive mentor somewhere in your past, think back to what that relationship meant to you then.
When a mentor believes in you, trust comes along with it. He trusts you when he is not around. I’ve always appreciated how Paul applied that trust to Priscilla and Aquila:
Ours is a world that demands immediate gratification. From instant downloads to instant mashed potatoes, we want what we want when we want it . . . and that’s usually NOW!
A mentor isn’t like that. He takes the long view toward those he mentors.
What does that look like in everyday terms? A mentor hangs in there. He has staying power. He isn’t restless. He doesn’t run. He isn’t a fair-weathered friend. He doesn’t give up when there’s criticism. That takes immense maturity in relationships with others. Look how Paul expressed it:
For the next several posts, I want to share with you what I call “the marks of a mentor.” These are the characteristics I have discovered in individuals who leave a positive, lasting impression on the lives of others.
I’ve already introduced you to two of my mentors in my two previous posts. These men, among a number of others, have permanently marked my life by the presence of their lives. Not just their words. Their lives.
The first mark of a mentor? They are caring. They get up-close and personal in the lives of those they influence and guide.
The apostle Paul was like that.
Webster defines a mentor as, “A trusted counselor or guide; a tutor, a coach.”
This describes a mentor I had during a vulnerable time in my life as a young man. I was serving in the Marine Corps, stationed on the island of Okinawa . . . separated from my newlywed wife for about seventeen long months.
Years ago Dan Fogelberg wrote a song about his father called “Leader of the Band.” In the chorus he calls himself a “living legacy” to his dad. I love that phrase. Why? Because it tells of the impact a mentor can have on another life.
When I look at my own life, I see that I am a living legacy to a handful of men who took an interest in me. They saw potential where I did not. They encouraged me to become something more than I was. One of the first of these men saw the most potential in me where I saw the least. His name was Dick Nieme.
When I began high school, I stuttered so badly I could hardly finish a sentence. With that speech impediment came a very low self-esteem. I learned to keep my mouth shut and maintain a low profile. The last place I wanted to be was in front of an audience!
Jesus gave the church its marching orders in practical terms. You’re familiar with His words:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19–20)
Here, in Jesus’s Great Commission to His followers, we find no greater challenge . . . and no more comforting promise. This is what Jesus meant when He told them, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).
But you probably have never considered the Great Commission as part of what makes a church contagious.
As Jesus prepared to wash His disciples’ feet, He did not say, “Men, I am now going to demonstrate servanthood—watch my humility.” No way. That kind of pride-on-parade was the trademark of the Pharisees.
If you wondered whether they were humble, all you had to do was hang around them awhile. Sooner or later they would announce it . . . which explains why Jesus came down so hard on them (take a quick look at Matthew 23!).
Unlike those pious frauds, the Messiah slipped away from the table without saying a word. He quietly pulled off His outer tunic, and with towel, pitcher, and pan in hand, He moved silently from one man to the next.
Of course, they weren’t sitting as they are portrayed in Leonardo da Vinci’s work The Last Supper. All due respect for that genius, but he missed it when he portrayed the biblical scene through Renaissance eyes.
Paul wrote with urgency, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:1–2). In other words, stick with the preaching plan God has promised to bless and use: preaching the Word. Deliver the biblical goods! Be a man of the Book!
Did you notice something here? This exhortation is not addressed to the hearer; it’s for the speaker. The one who is to obey this command is the one proclaiming the message. That’s you. That’s me. That’s all who are called to stand and deliver.
We’re to be ready to do it in season and out of season. Being ready implies being prepared both mentally and spiritually. Don’t try so hard to be so creative and cute that folks miss the truth. No need for meaningless and silly substitutes for God’s Word. They may entertain but rarely convict the lost or edify the saved. Teach the truth.
In essence, Paul says, “Don’t be lazy. Do your homework. Don’t stand up and start with an apology that you didn’t have adequate time to prepare. That doesn’t wash.” And prepare your work faithfully—when it’s convenient and when it’s not.
Sadly, in an alarming number of churches today, God’s people are being told what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. They are being fed warm milk, not solid meat. A watered-down gospel will attract large crowds (for a while), but it has no eternal impact. I’ve not been able to find any place in the Scriptures where God expresses the least bit of concern for increasing numbers. Satisfying the curious, itching ears of our postmodern audiences is an exercise in futility.
The task of ministry is to deliver truth. Frankly, I intend to continue doing just that, by God’s grace, until the day He calls me home. I believe that’s your passion as well. That’s why you became a pastor. Thankfully, there is an ever-increasing body of believers who long for nourishing messages based on the Word of God, not human opinion.
Will you answer the charge?
Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations. . . . And surely I am with you always” (Matthew 28:19–20 NIV). There is no greater challenge and no more comforting promise. Believe it. Trust it. And by the grace of God, just do it!
I’m right there with you.
Scripture not only supports the idea of eternal rewards, it spells out the specifics. In 1 Corinthians 3:10–14, we find three primary facts about rewards. We’ll look at the first two today and complete the list next week.
Before I mention the facts, let’s review the verses:
According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. (1 Corinthians 3:10–14)
First, most rewards are received in heaven, not on earth. Please don’t misunderstand. There are earthly rewards. Even the world provides certain people with special honors: