The older I get, the more aware I become of the minimal mentors early in my life, and in some cases, how minimal some of those mentors were. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but both of these statements are critical to one’s achieving the full impact available to any true believer. I regretfully did not realize the necessity of being surrounded by men of God, possibly even lacking an understanding of the concept of mentors, until later in life. The idea that “it’s not what you know but who you know” somehow came across to me as more about earning a living, climbing the ladder than building the climber!
Secondly, I had little template for analysis of those men of God around me, outside of trusting the leaders themselves. Trust is a powerful tool but blind trust is error.
This shortfall in my development may have been more about my inability to apply the scriptures or simply immaturity in general? Yet, at the risk of sounding more negative than I need be, maybe some of these regrets were necessary, for I am now impassioned toward these writings. Possibly, these daily entries provide for younger readers what my life lacked, even a gift, I hope, for those who come behind me? That is in fact my compelling reason for each of these early morning sessions with God.
This morning as I read from Luke’s record of the Acts of the Apostles, actually picking up on a partial of chapter twenty, unfinished from yesterday’s readings, it was as if the Lord had carved out this section for my focus! I find great joy in the belief that He is that personal and instructive in my devotional time each day.
There in verses 17-32, Paul is quoted as he delivers a series of testimonials to his tenure as a spiritual leader. Each of these lines are loaded with insights, critical for the young leader as mentors are selected and assessed over time:
- Service with humility and with tears (sincere tears are the anatomical evidence of humility);
- Endurance of severe testing and the plots (NIV) of his religious kinsmen (“in this world you will have tribulation”; Paul did shy away from conflict);
- Lack of any hesitancy, to preach anything, helpful both publicly and house to house (great courage in the marketplace, and availability to others);
- Declaration to both Jews and Greeks (no partiality and little political correctness);
- Compelled by the Spirit in the face of uncertainty (the test of true spiritual ownership);
- An openness to instruction by the Spirit in the face of hardship (valued character development over personal security);
- One priority, finish the race and complete the task (Paul understood the concept of losing life to gain Life);
- “None of you…will ever see me again.” (Cherishing relationships but being able to say goodbye for the sake of mission);
- Innocent of the blood of all men (a lack of any hesitancy that assures immediate spiritual obedience);
- Watchful over his own self and the flock (keeping personal tendencies in check and discerning of and for others);
- Guarding the truth in love, with tears (not controlling or arrogant but mindful of how error so subtly enters, often through those desiring a similar following but lacking the call and discipline to accomplish true discipleship);
- Coveting no one (a giver and not a taker, “a hard worker” for the sake of the weak);
What a frame-work for mentor evaluation; what a treasure to have one’s self surrounded by men and women of Paul’s stature in Christ.
When it came time for Paul to leave, he simply “knelt down” (reduntant but loaded with meaning) and prayed; they, embraced and kissed him and walked him to the ship! What an exit, what a legacy.