From the desk of Bishop Mark J. Webb: Why I encourage mentoring
December 7, 2021 / By Bishop Mark J. Webb
Editor's Note: The 2021 Issue II of the Advocate focused on how mentors help pave the way into individuals’ ministries. Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb introduced this issue with this article, sharing several examples of mentorship in the Bible.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4.9-10)
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27.17)
“I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.” (Romans 15.14)
We were created for partnership - partnership with God and one another. The living out of our spiritual life and calling is never meant to be done alone, but together with a dependence upon the Holy Spirit and a deep connection with others who, like us, are pursuing a deep relationship with God. We all need spiritual mentors in our lives, and we all have an opportunity to be a spiritual mentor to others. Mentoring is not just sharing the knowledge of God with others, but rather it is demonstrating, teaching, and encouraging others to love and serve God passionately.
Throughout Scripture we see the examples of women and men coming alongside each other, to live life together, encourage spiritual growth, and share insights gathered from experiences filled with “strength” and “weakness”; “success” and “failure.” We see the eternal impact as individuals cheered on the journey of others and provided accountability for the commitments they have made and desires they hold to live and serve the way of faith in Jesus Christ.
An article on “The Biblical Basis of Mentoring” highlights just a few of the mentoring relationships we find in the Bible:
- Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, acted as a mentor after observing Moses trying to solve all the disputes of the Israelites.
- Moses began to mentor Joshua. Years later, God chose Joshua to be the next leader of the Israelites because he had Moses' spirit and had been mentored for the leadership position.
- Elisha was prepared for his prophetic ministry through his close relationship with the prophet Elijah. When Elijah was taken up into heaven, his mantel fell on Elisha and he received a double portion of his mentor's spirit.
- The Book of Ruth portrays Naomi as a mentor to Ruth, her Moabite daughter-in-law. Ruth had such a strong relationship with Naomi that she refused to leave her for any reason. Naomi helped Ruth understand the laws and customs of the Israelites.
- Luke tells us that Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, mentored Mary after she learned she was to be the mother of Jesus. Elizabeth, being filled with the Holy Spirit, reaffirmed the work of God in Mary's life.
- Barnabas was a mentor to Paul when he was a new Christian. Later they were sent as missionaries into Cyprus. The apostle Paul became a great spiritual leader and authored 14 books of the New Testament.
- Paul was a mentor to Timothy and described the young man as being "like-minded" with him in his commitment to serving God. Their relationship was so strong that Paul called it a father-son relationship
- And of course, we have the example of Jesus, who mentored 12 disciples for three years, teaching them to love God and equipping them to lead a movement that would take the Gospel into all the world.
Throughout my life, God has blessed me, by placing individuals in my life who were willing to invest in me, see the potential in me, and show me how to love and serve Jesus Christ with passion. My home church just recently celebrated their 150th anniversary and I had the opportunity to share a video greeting. These are a few of the words I shared:
“The people of St. John’s invested in me - countless men and women lived in front of me a life of loving and serving God in so many different ways and invited me to do the same . . . Thank you for showing me the way to follow Christ, for giving me opportunities to grow in my faith and the freedom to live out the call God has placed upon my life. I stand on the foundation you helped God build.”
My parents, grandparents, Sunday school teachers, youth group leaders, pastors, coaches, teachers, professors, friends, and colleagues were used by God in ways I cannot even fully identify – they have been and continue to be my mentors in faith.
Spiritual mentors show us how to go deep, wide, long, and high as followers of Jesus Christ. They live in front of us a passion for falling deeper in love with God. Mentors help us see God’s unique calling for our lives and how to trust and depend upon all that the Spirit of God has equipped us for. Mentors give away what God has given to them. Mentors celebrate our victories and share their mistakes, so we don’t have to make them. The role of mentor is not a position that interrupts our lives, but rather a relationship that permeates our spirit and invites us to the full journey God created us for. A mentor never points us to themselves or their way, but rather to the fullness of God and to the way of following Jesus Christ!
Mentoring is a part of almost every area of our lives. We receive mentoring and mentor others in all kinds of situations, for all kinds of skills and tasks. It is important work, but it’s temporal. What investment are we making in a mentoring that has eternal consequences?
Who is your spiritual mentor? Who has God placed in your life to walk alongside of you as you go deeper in your pursuit of God? Make an investment - invite them to share your journey!
Who are you serving as a spiritual mentor to? How might God use your spiritual journey and life experiences to raise up and encourage another? Make an investment – be willing to share with another!
Let’s become a Church filled with deep relationships that move us to become a people who love and serve God with passion! A Church full of people willing to share the joy of following Jesus together!