Sunday, October 11, 2015

Lovingly Mentoring One Another is One Way to Fulfill Christ's Command

Throughout my blogs, I have emphasized that Christ wants us to “love one another as we love ourselves.” Unfortunately, we all have a tendency to think of ourselves a great deal more than anyone else or more than any other thing, which gets in the way of our loving others. But, I will say it again; Christians have to work at obeying Christ’s commandment found in John 13: 34-35 (NASV). For it is here that Christ says: 
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” 

The ministry of Active Relational Christian Mentoring is all about loving your neighbor as yourself. But whether or not you become a Christian mentor, engage in some other service for the Lord, or you are just a Christian living out your life, you must let your love of Christ shine out in everything you do, which includes showing Christ's love in how you react to other people.

Christians are to work while on their journey here for the Lord. Part of our journey requires us to work at or attempt to gain more spiritual maturity, as we grow closer to the Lord. As I mentioned last week, spiritual maturity comes from several different actions that we take. Although spiritual maturity can be increased by studying the Bible and the Scriptures, we can also gain spiritual maturity as we live for the Lord and obey His Commandments. This means that actions, or positive loving actions, which we do for others, is a way to gain even more spiritual maturity. For what we do here on earth will impact our rewards in Heaven. What we do here on earth will also impact the lives of not only the people that we encounter here on earth, but we will also get to see the impact that we have had on people’s lives when we encounter them in Heaven. One of the easiest and most productive ways to impact the lives of other people is through Active Relational Christian Mentoring (ARCM).

Befriending Others

Most Active Relational Christian Mentoring is fairly easy in that you generally are befriending someone while you are lovingly teaching or sharing information about something that you know well. For example, a Christian coach will certainly have knowledge of the sport or the work topic that she is coaching, but she should also be able to answer questions about her own faith and belief in Christ if asked. A spiritual guidance mentor will usually have acquired a certain comfort level on the knowledge of the Bible and the path to Salvation before she attempts to guide another person into greater spiritual maturity or awareness. A Christian sponsor will also already know the organization or company for which she is sponsoring another woman, as she exemplifies the standards of Christian behavior in her sponsorship. In other words, mentors know about or have a skill level that will make it possible for them to lovingly share with or teach another woman. At the same time, the Christian mentor should be able to provide insight into the basics of the Christian faith. Just as importantly the mentor’s life, while lived shining the light of Christ on others, can be a great way to help another woman gain more spiritual maturity as well.

Mentoring Misunderstandings

Most ARCM mentoring is fairly easy and rewarding, because the mentor already knows the information or skills that she willing to share. Helping another woman grasp or understand what you are trying to teach her, though, can sometimes require the mentor to call upon her own spiritual maturity in more ways than one. For, whether the mentoring relationship is formal or informal, there will undoubtedly be times when the mentee may not understand what you, the mentor, are saying or what you are trying to get across to her.

Sometimes, though, the mentee will just disagree with what you are saying. These moments can be very frustrating. But they can also be opportunities to kindly share your beliefs, as long as you don’t pressure the mentee into accepting what you believe. For, teaching and sharing information is not about pushing your beliefs and opinions down another person’s throat. Unfortunately, there may be times when you and your mentee will just have to agree to disagree.

Christians, however, need to remember that we can still love another person even if we disagree with what they are saying or with what they believe. Remember that Christ came to “Save” all people. He even loved the Pharisees and Sadducees who were out to kill Him. He did not accept or promote their greedy and unloving actions, but He still shared the Truth with them. In fact, because of Christ’s love, one of the Pharisees, Nicodemus, came at night to meet with Jesus to find out the Truth. Jesus told Nicodemus that
… unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.
(John 3: 3. NASV).

We know that Nicodemus eventually turned His life around, because at the death of Jesus the Scriptures tell us that, “Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came (with Joseph of Arimathea), bringing a mixture of myrrah and aloes, about a hundred pounds of weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.” 
(John 19: 39-40. NASV).

What would have happened to Nicodemus if Christ had not been willing to meet with Him?  What if Christ had said, “you guys are planning on killing me so I want nothing to do with you”? As Christians we have to be willing to listen to the other person, especially our mentee, and then give our best answers. The worst case scenario is that the disagreement will lead to the end of your mentoring relationship. But, the ending of a mentoring relationship should not cause grudges or hurtfulness to occur. It is a learning experience for the mentor, and we hope that the mentee will also get an opportunity to think on what the mentor has shared. Moreover, such a situation should not determine whether or not you will ever mentor another woman again.

Don’t let one negative mentoring relationship ruin your desire to mentor another woman. Out of the many mentoring relationships I have had, I have had only two that I had to gently terminate. One was the result of the mentee becoming prideful about what she had learned and then wanting to take on the role of the mentor toward me. The other mentoring relationship that I had to let go was because the woman became so convinced that her idea and opinions about the Bible were more viable than the ones that I had, which was fine, except that she also believed that her opinions were even more viable than the opinions of other Biblical scholars. She pushed her beliefs upon me; wanting to change the way that I thought. But, as Christian mentors we must remember James’ admonishment:
… But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
– (James 1: 19-20. NASV).

Communication between Mentor and Mentee

In a situation where mentor and mentee disagree, the mentor should go to God in prayer asking for direction and the correct words to speak into the life of the mentee. Also ask God to show you where to find the Scriptures or information that will truly illuminate what you are trying to teach. At other times, there may be a far more simple explanation for the disconnect between mentor and mentee. Perhaps the mentee just doesn’t understand what the mentor is trying to get across. For example, if you are teaching a skill and the other woman just doesn’t seem to be able to understand your instruction or the way that you are trying to explain the situation, you need to stop and go back to the basics before you go any further.

Usually, taking a step back and asking your mentee questions about what she does or doesn’t understand will get you back on track. This will give you an opportunity to explain something a different way so that she can understand. If that doesn’t work, ask your mentee what you could do to help her understand. Sometimes it is just a matter of communication, while at other times the mentee needs a different teaching method. When you are communicating with her, ask yourself if you are using words that she understands? Are you talking over her present level of understanding or do you need to explain something in a different way? As a Christian, you are to mentor through love and caring.

Discovering How Your Mentee Learns the Best

All of us have a way that we learn the best, so you, the mentor, may have to take time to figure out what is the best way for your mentee to learn. For example, some people are very visual and need to see pictures and charts to understand. Others need only to be told once verbally, and they quickly pick up on what is being described or on what the mentor is saying. Still others like to write things down so that their brain both hears and sees the letters and words associated with what is being said. Personally, I like to write down what is being said, so that I can go back over my notes and see visually what I want to remember.

ARCM mentors need to understand that not everyone learns the same way. What works best for the mentor may not always work best for the mentee. Therefore, Christian mentors need to have a certain amount of flexibility in how we present information or skills to our mentee.  At other times, though, the mentee may just not agree with what the mentor is teaching and sharing. In such a situation, the mentor should not take offense when the mentee disagrees. Instead, determine the cause of the disagreement. Is it because you, the mentor, have not explained the information in such a way that the mentee can understand what you, the mentor, are trying to get across? Or is it because the mentee just does not agree with the premise or the findings? If the mentee doesn’t agree with the premise or the findings, try to find out why she disagrees. If you are discussing the Word, make sure that you have done your own research so that you can present it in a way that the mentee will understand. Do not get upset or angry, but just teach or share Biblical Truth.

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander; like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the Word, so that you may grow in respect to Salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. 
-- (I Peter 2: 1-3. NASV).

Searching for the Truth

Sometimes, though, a mentee will decide to search for answers on her own. This is fine, unless she is an immature Christian and can be easily swayed, or unless she accepts and believes everything that she finds on the internet is the truth. Sometimes, too, spiritually immature mentees will start to accept the common secular beliefs that oppose or that are against the Biblical Words of God. 

We have many Christians today who have been duped by the political correctness police today. To keep the peace or in order to notrock the boat”, these Christians agree with the common secular positions about things that are really against God and the Bible. I hope that none of you are so accepting of the secular world that you forget what God wants for you and those you encounter. Remember that God wants first and foremost obedience to His Word. Trying to make something right when the Bible says it is wrong, will not make it right.

Today, with all the false teachings that are being spouted in the secular world and now in some evangelical arenas, even Christians can fall for wrong beliefs.  Just as there were in past cultures, there are false prophets and false teachers today. For spiritually maturing Christians today, it often seems like there are more and more false prophets and teachers than ever before. But the Bible tells us that not only have they always been around, but that we can expect them to continue to proliferate. For, the Apostle Peter said:
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned, and in their greed they will exploit you with false words;….
– (II Peter 2: 1-3. NASV)

As both a Christian and as a mentor of other Christians, we have to be very careful that we are truly mentoring the Word of God. For it is easy to find ourselves accepting what is politically correct. Sadly, some Christians do not want to step into controversial situations, so even though they profess to be a Christian, they go ahead and just accept the common beliefs and determinations of the secular world. They accept them even if these beliefs, philosophies and determinations go against the Word of God. But if Christians cannot mentor the Truth of the Word of God no matter what the secular world believes, then they should not be involved in ARCM.

In Colossians, the Apostle Paul tells us to:
 “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceptions, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”
– (Colossians 2: 8. NASV).

Later, Paul tells Timothy to, “… guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’ – which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.”
– (I Timothy 6: 20-21. NASV).

Avoid Arguments and Squabbles

Even in his second letter to Timothy, Paul was extremely concerned about people quibbling over doctrines and philosophies that had nothing to do with the Truth of the Word of God or their Salvation from Christ their Lord and Savior. So Paul said,
 “Remind them of these things and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the Word of Truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like ‘gangrene.
 -- (II Timothy 2: 14-17. NASV).

Sometimes, though, in defending our faith, we can get hung up on the details of a church doctrine. However, unless a mentor is very well versed in the truth of a church doctrine, she can confuse the immature Christian mentee. Just like great harm has been done to the church over useless arguments, a mentor who squabbles over church doctrine can also do great harm. Sometimes, being willing to lay aside your “opinions” is so much better than your mentee being confused or upset, because she disagrees with your opinion. In fact, Paul goes one step further and tells Timothy to:

refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.” 
-- (II Timothy 2: 23. NASV.).

So, too, ARCM mentors are not to speculate about things; they just need the Truth of the Gospel message and the Word of God to stand on when they teach or share with another woman.

Lovingly Present the Truth of the Bible

Helping another woman acquire more spiritual maturity, means that you must present the Truth from the Scriptures. So, whether you are mentoring a skill, coaching a fellow Christian woman in a sport, or giving spiritual guidance to a woman who needs help, we have a responsibility to know the Truth of the Bible and to be able to present that Truth in an understandable and considerate way.

Christian mentors must be able to lovingly share the Word of God with others, without having malice or anger for someone not understanding or for someone who refuses to see what we consider to be obvious. However, if someone wants to debate the Truth of the Scriptures, you just need to stand on the Word of God. Make sure that you have your facts, and remember that ARCM Mentoring is not about debating philosophies and opinions. ARCM is about teaching or sharing what you have acquired through your study of the Bible and through the help of the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

ARCM is about loving your neighbor as yourself. Then, along with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and direction, it is your spiritual maturity that will provide the insights, discernment and information for your mentee no matter what subject that is being mentored. As a Christian mentor, you can help to increase your mentee’s spiritual maturity, while at the same time enhancing your own through your actions and your words of Truth.

You can do it!  You can become an Active Relational Christian Mentor who shares your knowledge, skills, talents, and information with other women who are searching for empowerment by gaining knowledge and understanding in the Lord. You can love your neighbor as yourself and fulfill the commandment of Christ’s to “love one another.”

Step up and enjoy sharing your love of the Lord with other women through a Christian mentoring relationship!

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