I was introduced to the concept of mentoring in my early 30’s. A man whom I esteemed highly asked if I would be interested in a discipling relationship. Up till then I recall no one intentionally helping me walk more closely to Christ. He proposed a weekly meeting at the Auckland Harbor Bridge and that’s what we did – every Monday for six years! The model he followed was that I was the learner, he the teacher.
This more-mature to less-mature model has great biblical warrant: Moses to Joshua, Naomi to Ruth (or was it the other way round?), Paul to Timothy to name a few. This model is however quite limiting. The number of people who are available and confident enough to mentor those less mature is, in my church experience, scarce.
A few years ago, I realized that God was teaching me a more freeing and fluid approach: mutual mentoring (two or more people who come to listen and learn from each other and the Lord). It happened as I started meeting with a young pastor-friend called Don Overton. From day one he spoke into my life and I his. Our relationship became a two-way street.
How did this happen? Essentially it is an attitude, where two people, regardless of age or maturity-stage, meet humbly to experience the biblical one-anothers. Mutually they encourage one another, submit to one another, pray for one another, confess their sins to one another, and build each other up. God graced Don and I with that attitude.
The benefits are huge. No longer do you need to search for a mentor-guru. Mature mentors are a blessing from God (especially when they humbly come to listen and learn), but they are few and far between. All you need to do is ask, “Who is in my relational network that God may be ‘giving’ to me?” Jesus talked that way when he prayed to his Father, before he was crucified. Speaking of his 12 disciples, he said, “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me… (John 17:9). We are not designed to be in a mentoring relationship with hundreds, just a few. Pray and ask God to lead you to someone you could mutually mentor.
What are some of your experiences as you have searched for a mentor? What do you think of the concept of mutual mentoring?
Rowland Forman is primarily a mentor to pastors. Currently he leads
Living Stones Leadership Ministries in New Zealand. He and Elaine have three children and seven grandkids. This year he published “The Lost Art of Lingering: Mutual Mentoring for Life Transformation” www.rowlandforman.com
This article appears in the December 2013 Missions Interlink Bulletin.
11/27/2013 — J. Lee Grady
Residents displaced by Typhoon Haiyan still manage to come together to worship the Lord—even in 16 inches of standing water.
Right after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines this month, a friend sent me the amazing photo I’m posting here. It’s a snap-shot of a church service held a few days after the monster storm displaced 3 million people and killed more than 5,000. Notice that the worshippers are standing in about 16 inches of water. A flooded church did not keep these people from thanking God that they were spared.
If you are reading this online, you are already blessed because 70% of the world has no access to the Internet. Here are 10 more things you should be thankful for:
- Got drinkable water? About 1.1 billion people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. Because of that, about 9 million people will die this year because of water-related illnesses. The next time you open a bottle of Dasani or drink from your tap, remember that millions of women around the world spend an average of four hours daily walking to get water.
- Do you eat three meals a day? The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world’s population is overfed, one-third is underfed and one third is starving. Approximately 925 million people in the developing world are chronically undernourished, and 15 million children die annually because of hunger.
- Got electricity? About 1.5 billion people in this world have no access to electrical power. In the nation of Malawi, where I preached two weeks ago, only 9% of the people have electric lights. Do you enjoy that oven in your kitchen? The next time you prepare a meal, remember that 2.5 billion people in the world still use wood or charcoal to cook their food. Do you enjoy your washing machine? Data analyst Hans Rosling recently reported that 5 billion people in the world still wash their clothes by hand.
- Got a roof over your head? The U.N. Commission on Human Rights says there are 100 million homeless people in the world. One in three children in the world live without adequate shelter. And today there are about 42 million people who are living as refugees. Most were displaced by war and live in crude camps.
- Do you own a car? The United States still has the highest number of motor vehicles in the world. Globally, only 1 out of every 8 people has access to a car. Many of the others either walk, take crowded buses or public vans or ride on bicycles, rickshaws or animals. Did you fly somewhere in the past year? You are blessed. Only 5 to 7% of people in the world have ever flown in an airplane.
- Do you have a flushable toilet? The United Nations Development Program reports that 2.6 billion people do not have access to any toilet facilities. India has the largest percentage of people who lack adequate sanitation. About 638 million Indians must go outdoors.
- Can you read? Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. There are 72 million children who should be in school but are not enrolled. If you have a college degree, you are in a privileged minority; only 6.7% of people in the world have a college diploma.
- Do you have health care? In developing countries, you might wait 8 hours to see a doctor in a clinic where there are no medicines and no electricity—and you might have to bribe the doctor to see him.
- Do you have political freedom? About 1.6 billion people in the world live in repressive societies where they have no say in how they are governed. They face severe consequences if they express their beliefs or assemble peacefully. The most oppressive countries today include North Korea, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea.
- Are you free to worship? More than 75% of the world’s population lives in areas with severe religious restrictions. Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.
I encourage you to make your own list of blessings. Thanksgiving is not an optional virtue. Without it, our pride swells and our selfishness consumes us. This is why David wrote,
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefitsPsalm 103:2, NASB
Thanksgiving is an important exercise because it adjusts our attitude. It calibrates our hearts so we remember again why we are blessed and
who deserves the credit for our blessings.
J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of the Mordecai Project.
Visit the Missions Interlink website