Saturday, May 23, 2015

We were Created for Christian Mentoring Relationships: Part II

“We witness in two ways: by life and by word … God’s purpose … after we have been converted is that we be witnesses to His Saving grace and power.

We are to be commandoes for Christ.
We are to be minute-men for Him.”

– (p. 138 Billy Graham In Quotes)

From God's Word:

“And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care in

 watching over one another,

studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) 

to love and helpful deeds and noble activities,

not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together

 [as believers], as is the habit of some people, 

but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging)

one another,

all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.”

 – Hebrews 10: 24-25. (Amplified Bible).

One of the first things my husband and I noticed about our church before we joined was the friendliness and sincerity of kindness toward each other and with the visitors. It didn’t take long for us to feel comfortable and cared about by the congregation. In our church, people get to know each other fairly quickly, because every Sunday our church has a “greet and meet” time before the Pastor’s sermon. It is at this time that everyone stands up and moves around the sanctuary to say hello and to shake hands with each other. It also gives us a chance to meet the visitors and tell them that we are glad they are there. More importantly, it keeps our Christian family close, because in those few moments we can see church members and visitors face-to-face, fellowship with them for a few seconds and notice if someone seems down or unhappy. 

The "greet and meet" is a great way to develop an acquaintance relationship, so that when we are asked to pray for a particular person we have a picture of that person in our minds. We will have also made a personal connection, even if that connection was just to shake the person’s hand in church. But, this is the first step in beginning to develop an acquaintance relationship or in the development of an even stronger relationship with someone. Often with these initial acquaintance relationships we can also discover a mentoring need. But mentoring first requires the development of a relationship.

Even with our “greet and meet” time, though, Christians often fail to make a connection with the other person. There are those Christians who shake the other person’s hand without even looking the person in the eye or acknowledging that they exist. They could just as easily be shaking hands with a mannequin for all they know. If they think that no one notices their lack of interest and concern they are very mistaken. Other Christians, though, are so focused on their own lives and problems that they cannot even take a few moments to focus on someone else. They just give a cursory “hi” without any sincerity behind the words. Then, there are those who just want to get the “greet and meet” time over, so they refuse to get up to even go through the motions of shaking another’s hand or looking like they care.

Although, most of our members would truly miss the “greet and meet” if it was taken away, there are some individuals that would not care. That is truly sad! For as Christians we are supposed to love our Christian brothers and sisters in a brotherly and sisterly way. This means that we are to care about those in the Christian faith. But, many Christians are so involved in their own lives that they cannot think about being concerned or involved in another Christian’s life. However, we fail to obey Christ’s commandments when we ignore other Christians.

The Apostle Peter, in speaking to the Christians of his day, said: “Since by your obedience to the Truth through the [Holy] Spirit you have purified your hearts for the sincere affection of brethren, [see that you] love one another fervently from a pure heart.”  -- (I Peter 1: 22. Amplified). Then later he said, “Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others]. Practice hospitality to one another (those of the household of faith). [Be hospitable, be a lover of strangers, with brotherly affection for the unknown guests, the foreigners, the poor, and all others who come your way who are of Christ’s body.] And [in each instance] do it ungrudgingly (cordially and graciously, without complaining but as representing Him).  – (I Peter 4: 8-9. Amplified). Do we always represent Christ in our behaviors and attitudes?

Peter’s words are just as true and important today as they were when the Apostle Peter wrote them nearly two thousand years ago. Christ wants us to love and care about each other. However, we cannot begin to form a caring relationship with another person without first trying to develop some type of initial relationship, even if it is just an acquaintance relationship. Furthermore, we cannot develop a mentoring relationship without getting to know the other person and fellowshipping with them to determine what kind of mentoring they may need or want. But if Christians will not even look another Christian in the eye or even get up to shake someone’s hand, how can they develop any type of relationship? How can they be obedient to God’s Word? How can they ever mentor another Christian?

The first step in developing a relationship is to learn the other person’s name. Look that person in the eye and tell them that you are glad to meet them. If you have already met them, renew the acquaintance by saying that you are glad to see them again. Then ask how they have been. Obviously, this is just the beginning or embryonic stage of developing a relationship, for to develop a true relationship we need to get to know the other person. We can only get to know another person, though, through deliberate communication and interactions.

It is through communication and interactions that we can find the commonality that can help develop a relationship and then ultimately hold the relationship together. Perhaps both women love being mothers or grandmothers. Maybe they both went to the same college or pursued the same type of career. Maybe it is just being willing to show another woman that you care about her and her life that can bring the two of you together for a Christian mentoring relationship. For Christians, though, our commonality with another Christian woman should be first and foremost based on our love of Christ and our desire to live for Him and obey His commandments.

The Apostle Peter wrote: “[Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires that governed you in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel]. But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living.” – (I Peter 1: 14-15. Amplified.)  In other words, once we are “Saved” we have a responsibility to live the requirements of the Gospel. We cannot act like we live for ourselves, because we are responsible for living for Christ and the Kingdom of God, which is the body of believers. Yes, we are to share the Gospel message with the lost, but we are also to try to live a purified and righteous life. This means that we turn away from the world’s way of living and live for God. It also means that we are to care about each other and help those within the body of Christ. Peter then goes on to say, “Since by your obedience to the Truth through the [Holy] Spirit you have purified your hearts for the sincere affection of the brethren, [see that you] love one another fervently from a pure heart.”  -- (I Peter 1: 22. Amplified).

Sometimes it is hard to love someone fervently, but with Christ all things are possible. Of course, we are to also live honorably and properly at all times, and this includes showing honor and love when we are in the house of the Lord. As Christians, we are to set the standards for obedience to God for others and the standards for Truthful and caring behaviors in church and throughout life. For when we do those right and good things others can see Christ in our lives. Sitting in church and ignoring other Christians does not fall under either of the categories of right and good things.

The Apostle Peter wrote that we are to “… [live at all times] as servants of God.” – (I Peter 2: 16. Amplified.). Moreover, God has told us more than once that we are to love others as we love ourselves. To be a servant of God, we must show that we care about others in the body of Christ and show that we live in obedience to God’s Word. One of the ways that we can be obedient to God is to show that we care about others by reaching out to form relationships with other Christian women. But in order to form a relationship we have to communicate and interact with the other woman in a humble and loving spirit. 

It is easier to form a relationship if we can find a common ground, and then pursue that commonality in order to mentor or just be there for the other woman if there is a need. When we befriend another Christian woman we are usually able to develop a godly Christian relationship, which is what God wants for us. What may have started as just an acquaintance or introductory relationship can become one based on active relational Christian mentoring (ARCM).

Active relational Christian mentoring is all about the development of relationships for the purpose of helping another Christian spiritually grow stronger and more mature in living for Christ. ARCM is about supporting and helping the body of Christ in whatever way we can. But, ARCM is also about sharing the Gospel with other women who do not yet know Christ. However, whether we are helping a fellow Christian or a non-Christian, we have to first develop a relationship in order to be able to share. For those who have yet to come to know Christ as their Savior, Christian mentors can share skills, knowledge, resources and the Gospel message as she uses her gifts and talents to support, help and encourage another woman.

ARCM also focuses on making true and committed disciples of those who have chosen to follow Christ. The relational mentoring also helps new believers grow, mature and use all their talents and gifts that God has bestowed upon them. Whether ARCM takes the form of teaching, coaching, counseling or the fellowship type of mentoring that befriends and gives support, all active relational Christian mentoring starts first with the development of a relationship. We were created to be in godly relationships!

There are many types of relationships that we will encounter in life, starting with the parental or providential relationships that God gave us when we were born. As we progress through life, we develop close relationship with other extended family and even distant family members. We may also develop friendship relationships, sibling relationships, boyfriend and girlfriend relationships and eventually some will develop husband and wife relationships. As we mature, we also develop work-related relationships and even club and organizational relationships as well as our own church family relationships. Obviously, our goal, as Christian women, is to develop Christ-centered relationships no matter what type of relationship that we are engaged in. This is our mission in life: to witness to the world (even our small part of the world) for Christ and the Gospel and to live for Christ and to mentor others in the living for Christ, as we encourage, support, help, love and care for others in this world. We can do all this and more through Active relational Christian mentoring relationships.

As Christians, we could stand on a soapbox and shout to the rest of the world that Christ is the path to Salvation and eternal life, but not many people would take us seriously. It is only through the development of some kind of communicating relationship with another person that we can respectfully tell others about Christ. It is only through this type of Christ-centered relationship that we can be there to support and teach another; whatever it is that needs to be taught or mentored.

No matter how the relationship starts, people grow closer to other people through conversation and by doing things together that they have in common. If a relationship also has at its core the Gospel of Jesus Christ, both the individuals will be focused on the words of Christ and His actions, which they can then reflect back into the world through their words and behaviors. Occasionally, though, the other person in the relationship may not know Christ the way we do. This is where living our lives for Christ and sharing the Word will give the other person the knowledge that she needs to see that Christ really exists.

Christ does not only exist in our heart, but He also exists in our actions, which also allows others to see Christ in us, too. Once our relationship with the other person grows and develops, the other person will begin to see what Christ means to us. They will be able to see or view our lives lived out for Christ. ARCM is about showing others the joy and beauty in living for Christ. I know that you can develop a relationship to mentor another woman. But, in order to do so, you must obey the commands of Christ and show others that you are indeed living for Christ.

The Apostle Peter said, “For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue). By means of these, He has bestowed on us His Precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature.” – (II Peter 1: 3-4. Amplified). Then Peter went on to explain that for that very reason, we are to add diligence to the divine promises. By exercising our faith we can develop virtue which is excellence, resolution and Christian energy. We are to then add knowledge, self-control, patience, steadfastness, and godliness. For it is through godliness that we can “… [develop] brotherly affection, and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love.”  -- (II Peter 1: 5-7. Amplified).

All of these attributes are to be acquired by Christians. Some are easy to acquire, while we have to work harder at acquiring others. But, whether we are in church, at work, or out and about with other people, we have to show the world that we care and that we truly live differently than the rest of the world. We have to express our Christian attributes in a humble and loving way. How do we do that? We do that by reading the Word daily. We do that by taking to heart the commandments of God. We do that by exercising our faith, our patience, our steadfastness, and our brotherly love, etc. We do that by refusing to be enticed into the ungodly actions and dress of the rest of the world. We do that by showing that we love others just as Christ showed that He loved us. We have to show that we care. If you really want to live to glorify God and live for Christ as you fulfill your individual purpose in God’s Kingdom, you need to become aware of your words and actions. You also need to pray, listen and actively seek the development of a godly relationship with another woman so that you can accomplish your Christian mission in life. You can serve in the Kingdom of God through ARCM. You can do it!

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