FrontLine September/October 2017 | VOLUME 27 | NUMBER 5
Editorial by David Shumate
We all have a sad tendency to take for granted some of life’s greatest blessings. In thinking about this issue of FrontLine, “Mentoring into the Ministry,” I came to the realization that my Christian life has been enriched beyond words by the influence of a group of Christian mentors. These have included a law student and attorney, a bivocational church planter, a couple of pastors, and several seminary professors. Over the years our relationship has changed. Two of these valued mentors have been promoted to glory, others I see only occasionally, and a few I continue to work with regularly. However, I think it is completely fair to say that I would not even be in the ministry, and I certainly would not be where I am in the ministry, were it not for their godly influence.
The modern term comes from Mentor, a character in The Odyssey, who served as an advisor to Odysseus and who took on supervision and guidance of his son, Telemachus, while Odysseus was fighting in the Trojan War. From that context, the word came to mean a trusted advisor, a wise coach, and friend. The one being mentored is often called the “protégé” or more recently the “mentee.” Lately, mentoring has gained popularity as a prescription for success in various facets of life. Whether it means seeking a personal trainer, a corporate advisor, or a life coach, increasingly people sense the need for personalized guidance from those with experience and wisdom.
Although the term does not appear in the Scriptures, the concept certainly does. Both Joshua and Elisha served as personal assistants to their predecessors in ministry and leadership. The Bible specifically mentions that Joshua was Moses’ assistant (Exod. 24:13) and that Elisha “poured water on the hands of Elijah” (2 Kings 3:11). In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus had many disciples, and He named twelve to be with Him constantly. Among the twelve, He paid special attention to Peter, James, and John, allowing only them to accompany Him to the house of Jairus to witness the healing of his daughter (Mark 5:37, 40) and to the Mountain of Transfiguration to see Him glorified (Matt. 17:1). Of these three, the Gospels devote special attention to the development of Peter.
Perhaps the most extensive examples in the Scriptures is Paul’s relationship with Timothy. Timothy accompanied Paul on missionary journeys (Acts 16:1; 19:22; 20:4) and was commissioned to minister in his stead (Phil. 2:23; 1 Tim. 1:3). Paul noted that Timothy was especially likeminded with him, having served with him like a son (Phil. 2:19–23). Finally, near the end of Paul’s life, he devotes two entire letters to Timothy, giving him both pastoral and personal instruction and encouragement.
One regular question regarding mentoring is its relationship to discipleship. To some degree it is a question of terminology. However, if discipleship is thought of as the lifelong process of growing into Christlikeness and service, then one can view mentoring as a subset of that process. Given the biblical examples, mentoring can be characterized by one-on-one or small-group interaction to prepare someone for service, often with a view to multiplying leaders. Regardless of the terms used, mentoring is crucial to the life of the Church and to the Great Commission. May we all do our part to mentor a generation of leaders for the cause of the Gospel.
We would like to acknowledge the Lord’s servants in two ministries for especially contributing to this issue of FrontLine. The first is International Baptist College and Seminary, a ministry of Tri-City Baptist Church in Chandler, Arizona. The passion of IBCS is “mentoring into ministry.” The second is MGM, International (formerly Mexican Gospel Mission), whose vision is passing the baton of the Great Commission responsibility to the Hispanic world.
Creating a Mentoring Environment in the Local Church
Frugality, work, sacrifice, delayed gratification, kindness, grace, mercy, and forgiveness are absent from many people in our churches today.
“Life Touching Life”
Mentoring is most effective when the mentor’s words match his choices.
The mentor has succeeded when the disciple serves the Lord in his native culture more effectively than the one who mentored him.
What My Math Disciples Have Taught Me
My teacher role has led to some fruitful introspection—about myself as disciple-maker but even more about myself as disciple.
Charles Simeon: The Mentor of a Nation
How did someone with the personal deficits that Charles Simeon had achieve the kind of influence that he did?
Mentoring God-Fearing Leaders
The essential question in mentoring is, “What are we seeking to accomplish?”
What Do These Stones Mean?
Mail Bag & News from All Over
No Success without Successors
On the Home Front
Wit & Wisdom
Reaching Your Community through the Chaplaincy
Beyond Separation: The “Accursed” Principles
David C. Innes
On Language & Scripture
Mark L. Ward Jr.
At a Glance: The Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament, Part 4
The Threefold Ministry of the Holy Spirit
Our sincere thanks to Dr. David Shumate for coordinating this issue of FrontLine magazine.