The Christian life is intended to be life-on-life discipleship, accountability, growth and maturation. Jesus came and spent three years solid with twelve guys, teaching them Scripture, application, obedience, discipleship and simply how to love God and one another. Then he sent them out to do exactly what He had modeled for them:
“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.”
– Matt 28.19-20
Jesus instructed the disciples to go and make disciples – and the way that they were supposed to make disciples was to 1) baptize them, and 2) teach them to obey Jesus’ commandments. I am from a denomination that historically has been very numbers driven: how many baptisms have we had? How many new members can we draw? Once someone has joined the church, he is never removed from the roster unless he asks to be and our attendance is maybe one third of our listed membership.
And while there are some denominations that have the strength of relationship and discipleship, this is an overall trend of our society and culture: to never get real. Our egos are so sensitive that we cannot hear instruction. Consequently, the moment we realize we are wrong or someone else points out our failures, we move on. There are always new friends. And if not,we prefer to be alone anyway! We hold grudges, we form opinions about people and never invest to see someone grow in the Lord.
I am the most guilty of it. I have a tendency to see people the way that they are, and to believe the words of old, “People never change”. I do not see people for how they could be, how God could redeem or transform a situation or attitude. But Godly love sees God’s [potential] redemption in another’s life. It believes that God is ready and willing to intervene and we need to be learning and teaching.
So I ask, do you have a mentor? Do you have a mentee?
The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
– 2 Tim 2.2
Paul was miraculously saved from a life of persecuting the Church. He then went and spent three years alone with God, being taught by the Holy Spirit through the Old Testament. Then he came back and caught up with Peter and some of the disciples to compare notes. Then he got busy about being one of the greatest missionaries of all time. He learned directly from God. He taught Timothy, and he instructed Timothy to teach those things to other men who could teach even more men. Four generations are noted in this one instruction, the very foundation for genuine and deep transformation and multiplication.
While there is a comfort in peer accountability, there is also a danger. If I ask a friend who has the same struggles as me and the same knowledge and experience as me to keep me in check, there is a temptation to let it slip and there is an ease to justify the sin when it occurs. We both know we both are going to screw up, so we comfort one another in our failures. But when we submit ourselves to someone who has achieved maturity and has defeated that sin in their lives, we feel guilty to confess our sin to that person. Not because they will judge us, but because we know that we will not get away with it.
Likewise, we need to be concerned about people coming in behind us. If we do not entrust the things that are being taught to us to the younger people behind us, the next generation will be lost.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
– Titus 2.3-5
Paul taught Titus to have the older women teach the younger women how to love their children, among other things. Peer mothers cannot really teach one another that, it is learned through experience. And young mothers can teach youth and teenage girls how to handle temptations and life.
So who is pouring into your life and teaching you? Who are you teaching and mentoring? Let’s not let the cycle stop with us. Let’s get real with one another, open up our hearts and our experiences, and invest in those ahead of us on the road and those behind. Do you need a mentor? Look around and find a person who has lived the kind of life you want to live, and just ask them. If they can’t do it, ask them for a suggestion! Let’s get real.