Around twelve years ago I completed a study of Paul’s mentorship of Timothy. I was aware that in recent years there had been a resurgence of interest in mentorship. The origins of mentorship are found within Greek mythology. The concept is derived from the departure of Odysseus for the Trojan War, when he charged his trusted friend, Mentor, with the education and development of his son, Telemachus. Most historians agree that for generations before academic education became as widespread and degrees became in many sectors essential, mentorships or apprenticeships were seen as mandatory, not only for acquiring manual skills, but also in professions such as medicine and law. In this context the word ‘mentor’ has become synonymous with a trusted advisor or counsellor. Although the paper I wrote was received very well, on reflection I think I would now approach it differently.
My rationale is simple. Paul never refers to himself as a mentor, nor as Timothy as his mentee. Instead, he refers to Timothy as his true son in the faith (1 Timothy 1:1; 2 Timothy 2:1). Those who are following the Bible in a Year will be aware that in yesterday’s reading he also refers to Titus similarly (Titus 1:4). Although I believe that mentorship has great value, within the church, familial terms ought to be much more appropriate. Indeed, Paul laments to the church in Corinth; “Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers” (1 Corinthians 4:15). So, what then is the difference between mentors and fathers or indeed mothers? I would suggest that although mentors and mentees work towards mutually agreed goals. However, fathers and mothers will be prepared to invest all that they have for the good of their kids.
………..So here is the challenge to those who are more mature in the faith. Who are you building relationship with and investing your time in as a means of resourcing and releasing the next generation to do great exploits in the Kingdom of God?
If you sense God speaking to you through this challenge, please do feel free to give me a call!