Mentoring in the Bible
Type in the word “mentor” in a word search on Bible Gateway…and you get 0 Results!
Type in the word “mentee” in a word search on Bible Gateway…and you get 0 Results!
You get the same results when you enter “mentored” or “mentoring!”
But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing in the Bible on the subject! Consider this list of the mentor/mentee pairs in the Bible.
Priscilla and Aquila/Apollos (Acts 18:24-28)
Reflecting on the list we’ve made are there any observations?
Anything these mentoring pairs have in common?
Anything contrasts you notice?
- Some pairs were living life together (ie.Moses/Joshua,) while others have a long-distance relationship after initial time together (ie. Paul/Timothy.)
- Some of the relationships involve succession or handing off leadership, while other are more situational
- There is often a sense of reciprocity in the mentoring (ie. Saul-Paul/Barnabas.)
- Often, there are similar descriptions of the mentor and mentee as if mentees become “like” their mentors:
Gabriel says to Mary, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28)
Elizabeth is described as being “filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 1:41)
Barnabas is the first name included in a listing of prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch. (Acts 13:1)
Saul is the last name in this same list! Just a few verses later, “Saul, who was also called Paul,” is said to have been filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:9)
Upon successfully leading the Israelites in crossing the Jordan, Joshua 4:14 says “That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they revered him all the days of his life, just as they had revered Moses.
Note: Yet there is also the reality that the individuals’ ministries/roles often took very different forms, and required totally different gift sets from their mentors.
- Especially in the NT, but I think a case could be made as well in the OT, mentoring includes a measure of discipleship…practicing God’s ways/becoming God’s people in the OT…and following Jesus/being transformed into his likeness (II Co. 3:18) I think of the words of Paul in I Corinthians 11:1: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
- Check me on this…I believe it’s true, there are no pairs of mentors before the people of God are formed/delivered out of Egypt…Mentoring in the Bible is often/always(?) about leadership. Observation: Yet, no kings made our list! J
Dwelling in the Word
See attached Dwelling in the Word based on Mark 10:35-45.
Summary Notes from Dwelling
- Jesus extends grace even as he corrects!
- Jesus says, “Sorry I can’t do that for you.” Mentors have limitations that are best recognized.
- Jesus’ response allows James and John’s motives to be revealed, and speaks to motives of those who would lead.
- Jesus started by listening.
- Jesus’ mentoring happens in the midst of living life together.
- Jesus saw a problem as an opportunity, a teaching moment.
- Jesus was both direct and gentle.
- Jesus was patient…let it play out…didn’t fix it or end it before it could fully develop.
- Tensions between position-and true authority; selfishness-and emptying; maturity-and wisdom.
- The question asked is about destination. Jesus’ response is about the journey.
- Most significant mentors have been models of service!
- Humility is required both in mentoring and being mentored.
- There is a connection between mentoring and discipleship.
2 Corinthians 3:18 (NRSV)
18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.