“As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”
― 1 THESSALONIANS 2:11-12 (NRSV)
Every serious Christian seeks to live a life worthy of God. But knowing what that means and converting into a usable formula to achieve that end are two calamitous problems that easily confound us.
The apostle Paul gives us one solution to this age-old problem of converting the will into action. That solution is a fatherly mentor; we need someone who will urge us on, encourage us when we need it, and plead with us to lead a life worthy of God, by speaking our language to us. We speak, here, about the value of someone who is ready to invest in our lives, combined with the value of us coming under that person and having the humility and trust to believe them.
Such a mentor is our fan, our coach, and our accountability partner all wrapped up in one. We trust their judgment. We know that, because they know us, and we know they have the best in mind for us, that we can trust them. But it's not like we follow them blindly; the best of mentors wants us to think critically, to check their judgment. And the best of mentors – that true father figure – will want us to think for ourselves and make our own decisions, and to demonstrate effective self-leadership. The best of mentors accepts the decisions we make even if it means we go against their advice, so long as we have considered it.
When we have placed ourselves in a relational arrangement with such a father figure we are continually learning and, therefore, humility is a constant companion.
But such an arrangement needs most an approach where honesty and love for the other, combined, ensure the arrangement is sustainable, and the relationship can bear any conflict between the two.
Leading a life worthy of God requires us to 1) live in a way where we have people around us prepared to give us honest feedback, and 2) where we are fully prepared and able to absorb the feedback and, getting beyond our pride, we use it as a catalyst for growth.
Every serious Christian seeks to live a life worthy of God. But seriousness requires us to plan and act on those plans. The more we turn from the world’s thinking, the more we think and behave in ways that please God. A mentor can help shape our spiritual development, urge us on, encourage us, and plead with us to keep growing.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.