For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. – Romans 1:11-12 (ESV)
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. – Hebrews 13:7 (ESV)
But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? – I Thessalonians 3:6-10 (ESV)
Amid this COVID-19 pandemic, it is quite sensible for us to cancel many things. Our current context requires these cancellations. However, when it comes to Christian mentoring meetings, I believe that our context is a perfect one for Christian mentoring and that with the ease of technology accessible to all of us, now is a great time to continue the mentoring relationship. Why do I believe this?
I believe that the core purpose of a Christian mentoring relationship should be the upbuilding of each other’s faith in Christ, especially in tough times, for the glory and honor of God*. In first-century Christianity, there were great challenges to daily keeping one’s trust in Christ. There was the challenge of life’s hardness for many in that era and the prevalence of the persecution of Christians. As the passages given above indicate, the focus of Christian leaders was to build up and be encouraged by the young believers’ steadfast daily trust in Jesus amid life’s difficulties and challenges.
The question for all Christians during the COVID-19 crisis, “what is our trust and hope in now?” Is it in the correct practice of handwashing, social distancing and self-quarantining? Is it in our government setting the right strategies and funding the right programs? Is it in our figuring out which stores have toilet paper and stocking up on it? Is it in us being young enough and in good health enough to be able to get through having the virus but not suffering too badly?
The COVID-19 pandemic tempts us to foolishly think that our hope is in our ability to manage things on our own. Question One of the Heidelberg Catechism points us in a better direction.
What is your only comfort in life and death?
That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.
The faith and hope that we have as Christians are in God our Father, Christ our Savior and the Spirit our Comforter. These form a sure anchor for us and a steady guide for us through this COVID-19 storm.
The reason why this pandemic provides a perfect context for Christian mentoring is because all of us deal with the daily temptation to put our faith in hand sanitizer and public policy rather than in God. God uses mentoring as a place in which we can come prayerfully together, honestly share how our faith is being tested or strengthened, encourage each other, pray with each other and then reenter the storm again with each of our trust in Jesus more fully intact. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said,
Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain; his brother’s is sure. (Life Together, pp 11-12)
During the COVID-19 crisis, we encourage mentors and mentees to be even more committed to meeting, utilizing web video conferencing or phone calls as needed**. When you meet, don’t dodge those things about this crisis that either divert your trust in God or that confuse you about trusting God. If you’re an older person mentoring a younger person, help each other to see the challenges brought by this crisis that each of you may not immediately understand. Brainstorm together as to opportunities that this crisis provides in serving others and in speaking of Christ to others. Pray in faith for each other’s concerns. Be strengthened together by the wise counsel of believers who have gone before us and realize the great relevance of their perspectives to our modern lives. Along with the quotes above from the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (who was hanged in a Nazi prison in 1945), also consider the following quotes.
From a pamphlet written by Martin Luther in 1527 entitled, “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague.”
“Therefore I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person, but will go freely.”
From Edward B. Pusey (1800-1882)This, then, is of faith, that everything, the very least, or what seems to us great, every change of the seasons, everything which touches us in mind, body, or estate, whether brought about through this outward senseless nature, or by the will of man, good or bad, is overruled to each of us by the all-holy and all-loving will of God.
Whatever befalls us, however it befalls us, we must receive as the will of God. If it befalls us through man’s negligence, or ill-will, or anger, still it is, in even the least circumstance, to us the will of God.
For if the least thing could happen to us without God’s permission, it would be something out of God’s control. God’s providence or His love would not be what they are. Almighty God Himself would not be the same God; not the God whom we believe, adore, and love.
Times like these, with all the fears, uncertainties and scarcities, provide the perfect context for the strengthening of each other’s faith through Christian mentoring. May in these next months you have some of your richest and most important times with each other. May you strengthen each other’s faith and thereby glorify and honor God your Father.
* Leadership Edge defines mentoring more fully in the following way:Leadership Edge mentoring is a Life-On-Life relational experience between a mentor and mentee oriented toward a vision for Christ-centered, world-changing influence.
Whether meeting over coffee or a meal or spending time in an activity together, the mentor and mentee have intentional conversations that revolve around prayer, scripture, leadership frameworks and tools, coaching, and debriefing of lessons learned.
By Life-On-Life we mean an authentic relationship through which vision, values, commitments, and convictions are shared from one person to another.
** We have available for you a paper and a podcast on Remote Mentoring Via Web Meetings that contains practical tips on conducting remote mentoring meetings.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to gain access to these resources.
For 26 years, God has used Leadership Edge to mentor hundreds of emerging leaders.
This article is written by its founder, John Hawkins.
— by John Hawkins with LEADERSHIP EDGE INC.