Tuesday, August 12, 2008

We Need Models and Mentors

Darin and I have been talking about this very subject lately. When I read this devotional today it captured what we have been thinking about for so long. As homeschooling parents we try to be mentors and role models for our kids. In Royal Rangers and Mpact Girls we are all mentoring the kids in their relationship with the Lord. As adults we have recognized our need for mentors. That's were it gets complicated. The church model of today really isn't conducive for mentorship. Maybe it is our society raising us up to be solitary and independent. Maybe a combination of the two. But we all need mentors to grow. Read this devotional and tell me what you think:

We Need Models and Mentors

by Rick Warren

Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. Philippians 3:17 (NIV)

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For us to mature, we need models and mentors.

Many people make the mistake of thinking all they need to grow spiritually is God’s Word and prayer. But the truth is, we need people to help us grow.

Christlike character is built through relationships, not in isolation. There are many things God wants you to learn about life that you’ll never learn on your own. You’ll only learn them in community.

We always grow faster and stronger with living, breathing examples who can model for us what a purpose driven life looks like. We need more than explanations, we need examples.

Paul realized the power of a pattern when he advised, “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you” (Philippians 3:17 NIV). To grow, we need to see principles in practice. We need to see what beliefs looks like when they are translated as behavior in everyday situations.

When Paul would travel to a city to start a church, he would begin by simply living among the people. He was a “living Bible,” echoing the life of Jesus, where “the word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14 NKJV).

After Paul left a city, he would write back, “Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9 NLT).

Who are your models for following Christ? Who are you watching and learning from?

Here’s a tougher question: Are you an example for anyone else? In elementary school, you probably enjoyed “Show and Tell.” As believers, we’re often better at “telling” than “showing.”

In today’s culture, the world desperately needs people who can show us how to love our spouse and make a marriage last, how to relate to our kids, how to do business with integrity, how to handle conflict in the way Jesus would. These are lessons we learn by watching others.

Not only do we need models to grow, we need mentors. Mentors are people who’ve followed Christ longer than we have and are able to share their life lessons. You’ve heard that it’s wise to learn from experience, but it is wiser to learn from the experiences of others. Life is too short to learn everything by experience! And some painful experiences can be avoided if you’re smart enough to learn from mentors in your church family.

Ask yourself this: “What’s been the greatest positive influence on my life?” Most likely it was not a sermon, seminar, or small group lesson. It was somebody who shaped your life through a personal relationship.

Can you see God’s wisdom in creating the church, a family full of mentors and models for our benefit?

That’s why being connected to a small group is so crucial to spiritual growth. It’s a regular opportunity to learn from each other.

Today, spend a few moments getting intentional about this. Write down the names of people in your church and small group that you’d like to learn from. Then identify what you’d specifically like to learn from them. Remember, they don’t have to be perfect to be a model or mentor.

To grow spiritually, you must also be willing to be a model or mentor to others. That may scare you but all it takes is being one step ahead.

People don’t expect you to be perfect – they already know you aren’t. What they want you to be is honest! So let them see your struggles, not just your successes. We usually grow as much from others’ weaknesses as we do from their strengths.
© 2008 Purpose Driven Life. All rights reserved.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers.

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