“Never mistake activity for achievement.” Keeping busy doesn’t mean that progress is being made. In mentoring youth or men, the same is true. We can fill schedules with meetings, take them out for dinner, suggest books, do Bible studies, or take trips, but at its core, a Mentor must pray for his protege’s. Two things strike me about the prayer life of Paul:
- Paul prayed for future leaders. During their first missionary journey through the province of Galatia, Paul and Barnabas circled back through the towns they had just visited and appointed (cheirotoneo) elders for the churches that they had planted. These men were committed (paratithemi – literally the word means to “lay down for” or “place”) to the work of the Lord and men whom Paul and Barnabas trusted to lead the church. Paul understood the importance of the leadership in the fledgling churches of Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, and he bathed those commissions in fasting and prayer (Acts 14.23). During the third missionary journey as Paul and his team are traveling around the archipelago of Greece, he longs to speak with the men whom he spent two years with in Ephesus. Ephesus is kind of like Grandma’s house, you don’t just stop for 2 minutes, so Paul has them meet him in Miletus (Acts 20.17). When the Elders arrived, Paul gave them a final commission and training. They knelt and prayed together because they knew they would never see his face again (Acts 20.36-38). In his last bit of training for the eldership of Ephesus, Paul prays. Finally, as Paul is headed toward Jerusalem, his ship docks at Tyre (Acts 21.5). In the city Paul finds some disciples who urge him not to continue onto Jerusalem. Paul will not be dissuaded, but before he leaves he prays with the disciples and with their families. The people Paul leaves places are always covered in his prayers. Perhaps he was just doing what was modeled for him by the disciples and Elders in Antioch (Acts 13.3). Mentoring is about training people and then releasing people to use that training. Training people to do what you do and them letting them do it. It is our responsibility as mentors to pray for the people we are training.
- Paul’s prayer life was consistent. Paul’s prayer life was of all things consistent and continual. When he writes to his Trainee Timothy: “night and day, I [Paul] constantly remember you in my prayers.” (2 Timothy 1.3), he writes not as an isolated instance but as a spiritual habit of praying. Spending time in prayer is not something that ebbed and flowed with Paul. After Jesus appears to him on the road to Damascus, Paul spends three days praying waiting for Ananias to show up (Acts 9.11). He and Silas prayed through the night in the prison at Philippi (Acts 16.25). Throughout his letters, Paul’s prayer life and teaching is on display: to the Ephesians, “I haven’t stopped remember in you in prayer” (Eph 1.16) and “pray on all occasions” (Eph. 6.18); to the Colossians “I haven’t stopped praying for you” (Col 1.9); to the Thessalonians, “pray continually” (1 Thess. 5.17) because we “constantly pray for you” (2 Thes. 1.11); to the Roman Christians, “at all times I remember you” (Romans 1.9-10) and “be faithful in prayer” (Romans 12.12); and to Philemon, “I always thank God as I remember you in my prayers” (Philemon 4). Paul displayed a passionate prayer life to the churches and the disciples. Consistently he was in prayer for the people and for the churches. Randy Gariss, pastor of College Heights Christian Church had this to say about the importance of prayer in the leadership, “You don’t want to be part of any church where the leadership doesn’t regularly fast and pray together!” Paul was reliable in his prayer life, knowing that prayer would have the greatest influence on the people he was leading. Prayer for the people we are leading takes the least amount of effort on our part, but returns the greatest gain in their life. Letting God take control of the situation, bending His ear constantly, and offering up our followers to Him, will accomplish more than any of the lessons we give. If we want to lead the next generation of leaders, and answer the question “Who’s Next?” we must make sure that we are mentors and leaders who pray. Constantly they must be covered in prayer, daily they must be lifted up, and continually we must display for them a life devoted to prayer.
With a mentoring relationship comes the commitment to pray for your disciple daily, asking God to direct and guide them, to work in their lives and transform them, to teach them and to encourage them. Prayer needs to be a top priority within the mentoring relationship.
To often, especially in mentoring relationships, life can run renegade. It gets away from us as we plan meetings, teach lessons, and invest in our relationships with those we are pouring into. Let’s not forget that we have our own lives to lead, families to manage, and work to do. Often the first thing to go is our prayer time. There is a great statement in the middle of the Book of Daniel, which demonstrates the kind of prayer life that we as leaders need to cultivate. Daniel 6.10-11: “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room were the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men came as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.” If someone wanted to catch you praying, could they? Would they be able to find me, as a leader, in consistent prayer for the next generation of leaders?
The most definitive sound in rodeo can be heard during the Bareback Riding. If you time it right, just in front of the chutes, amidst the sound of the clanging gates and exhaling broncs, a bareback rider will crack his bind.
A bareback riggin’ is the perfect combination of raw beauty and functionality. A collection of steel bolts, rawhide, and wood that vaguely resembles a suit case handle that has met far too many customs agents and luggage carousels. Their glove is rosined up leather that is molded to their hand that is resting upon about 30 layers of athletic tape. The glove is a perfect match for the hand that animates it and the riggin’ that receives it. On either side of the palm of the glove, or even on both, can rest two thicker pieces of leather sticking out to ensure that the glove can not be dislodged from the handle. The rider takes all these pieces and connects them all. They wedge their gloved hand in, carefully pulling the leather of the glove through to keep it tight and wrinkle free until the handle sits square across their palm, with the thumb resting alongside it. Then in one motion, the rider will pull his thumb across the handle and rotate his hand in the riggin’, making a creaking, stretching sound. The scraping of leather and wood, born of pressure and friction, is un-mistakable. “Cracking a bind” is the term for this sound. The bind is what keeps a 140 lbs cowboy connected to a 1200 lbs horse that is trying to separate from him. When the horse breaks in two, it is the bind that keeps the cowboy and horse one.
“After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.” (1 Samuel 18.1)
This verse begins the narrative of David and Jonathan; but it begins it with odd vocabulary. The three words “became one with” in English, translates one Hebrew word “qasar”. It is the same word that Moses used as he instructed the Hebrews to “tie” the commandments of God to their hands. Rahab needs to “tie” a scarlet cord in her window to be saved from the collapse of Jericho and Jeremiah had to “tie” a rock to a scroll that he threw into the river. Three times in Proverbs this word is actually translated in the NIV as “bind” (Prov. 3.3; 7.3; 22.15). Jonathan was bound to David…which is the perfect image of what their relationship would look like. God had bound these two together, at the perfect time, to help David survive some of the worst moments of his life. Do you have someone you’re chained too? Someone who says “no matter what, we are in this together?” The easiest way to tell is by looking at the next few chapters.
David and Jonathan were tied together through covenant. (1 Samuel 18.3-4)Much of life is based in a relationship that we would call: contract. I specify my demands and my desires in order for me to arrive at the deal that is in my best interest. Think of sports and the contracts involved there. Friendship (and marriage as well) is founded in a relationship called covenant. Covenants are entered for the betterment of the other party and unlike contracts, have no expiration date. Jonathan understood that his relationship with David would bring him very little in return. Jonathan was the next in line to be King, but his allegiance to David would mean the throne would never be his. So they made a covenant. When a covenant is made there is usually a sign or action that accompanies it. “Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.” (18.4) He renounces his identity as the next King as a sign of the covenant that he made with David. It reminds me of the story in Mark 2, where 4 men dug through a roof to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus. What’s in it for them? What do they have to gain? In contract, we gain; in covenant, we give. Who are you chained too right now that you would give anything for?
David and Jonathan were tied together through battle (1 Samuel 19.4) When David needed a brother to fight alongside him and fight for him, he had Jonathan. Saul had tried twice to kill David already. Once by his own hand (1 Sam. 18.10-11) and another time by using the Philistines by sending David on an apparent suicide mission (1 Sam 18.24-25). The only one who had a chance to change the mind of Saul was Jonathan. Jonathan had already seen the relationships of Saul crumble. There is nothing to say that Saul wouldn’t do to Jonathan what he had already tried to do to David. Still, Jonathan stood up and “spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, ‘Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly.’” (1 Sam 19.4) Men of God need others to stand and fight with them and if this verse doesn’t convince you of that, look at these passages from Paul’s last letter, 2 Timothy, and draw your own conclusions:
- “You know everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me.” (2 Tim 1.15-18)
- “Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you…” (2 Tim 4.9-13)
- “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me…” (2 Tim 4.16)
In the midst of a fight, do you people who’d step in? My two favorite bullfighting pictures don’t have bulls in them. One is of Daniel and I praying at Burlington and the other is Seth, Lucas, and I in front of the chutes in Nevada. These are men that when the situation gets the worst, they are at their best.
David and Jonathan were tied together through service (1 Samuel 20.4) David needed information. He knew Saul was out to get him. He also knew that Jonathan had stood up to his father about him before. But a second spear dodging event, has led David and Jonathan’s relationship down a pretty dark road. Jonathan alone would be able to ascertain the information about Saul’s true intentions with David. Jonathan promised David: “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do it for you.” (1 Samuel 20.4) David asked Jonathan to get the scoop from the palace. In doing so, Saul tried to kill Jonathan as well (1 Sam. 20.33). Still, Jonathan passed the message along to David. There is nothing that Jonathan would not do to serve David.
Despite the Godly friendship that was displayed throughout their time together, friendships do evolve over time. When David fled, Jonathan remained. “The Lord was a witness” to their friendship, (that is covenant talk) even as they went their separate ways: David towards the wilderness and Jonathan back to the city (1 Sam. 20.42) This is the last recorded interaction between them. Upon hearing of Jonathan’s death, David mourned his good friend (2 Samuel 1.17-27). True friendship, even death cannot separate. It can interrupt, put off, or suspend, but many of us have lost friends who despite their absence here on earth, are still very present in our friendship. The chain of friendship is vital to God’s process of turning us into men after His heart.
The case could be made that the ministries of some of the greatest men in the Bible, pinnacled as they anointed and mentored their successors. Moses had a great run standing up to Pharaoh, but it was his mentoring of Joshua that would fill more pages of his story than anything else. Elijah spent his days in the middle of a crumbling kingdom, trying to re-align their moral compass and pushing himself to the brink, but his ministry climaxed as he found Elisha to pour into. Try to read through 1 & 2 Timothy without noticing the instruction, the guidance, and the direction that Paul was trying to impart to his protégé Timothy.
When studying the lives of these people it is best to put them in juxtaposition with one another, which led me to this study. Many have sat down an attempted to write a character sketch of Paul or of Moses. I too studied their lives in an effort to understand them. Every study I undertook ultimately left me disappointed. Paul and Moses had an impact that lasted well beyond their day. Without even taking an account of the quarter of the Bible being written by their hands, it was the way they influenced the people around them that had a great impact on the future of Israel and the Church respectively. What did Moses and Paul do in mentoring the next group of leaders? What methods and actions did they undertake?
Moses and Paul didn’t just expect mentoring to happen. Moses was told by God to appoint Joshua as his successor (Numbers 27.18) and Paul called Timothy his ‘dear son’ (2 Timothy 2.2). These relationships didn’t appear “organically” as some in churches have expected. Organically is often a word used in place of “unplanned”, “unintended”, and “accidental”. Timothy and Joshua were certain of their roles and their relationships with their leaders. Pastors need to become more intentional with raising up leaders to succeed them. In Judges 2 a startling picture is shown when “another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” The previous generation/the older generation, the one who had seen the walls of Jericho fall, the Jordan River parted, the manna and the quail daily, the fire at night and the cloud by day leading them, departed, gathered to the fathers, died. The next generation wasn’t prepared by that generation.
It is vital for the survival of Biblical manhood for us to be future thinkers. We need to be daily asking the question: Who’s next? The purpose of the next few Monday’s is to help us avoid the issue that plagued Israel so long ago and answering the needs of young men: Providing Leadership for the Next Generation. Failure to do so will materialize for us the way it did for Israel in Judges. “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2.10) After an entire generation, ones that had seen the Jordan dry up before them, the walls of Jericho fall, the sun standing still, the manna and quail daily, the pillar of cloud and fire, had passed away…the knowledge of the works of the Lord was not passed on to the next generation. For the next few weeks, on Mentoring Monday, by leaning on the lives of Moses and Paul (and by proxy their mentees Joshua and Timothy), I want to provide a framework for mentoring from the Biblical text.
In all my life, I have owned three things with my name on them. A college soccer warm-up shirt, a bullfighting jersey, and a belt buckle. All of them have come in the last few years. Growing up, however, I was certain that a shirt with my name on it would give me legitimacy in sports, and in life. I mean, major leaguers had their names on the back of their shirts. It cost an extra couple bucks and a certain amount of organization to put the name on the back of a shirt. I was kind of a shallow and ignorant individual.
Still as an adult I feel the need for that affirmation and identity, and still as an adult, just like Saul, I search for them in the wrong places. But the story of David and Saul, show what happens when we derive our identity from God as opposed to other things like victories, people, or titles.
The story of David and Goliath, is really a story comparing David and Saul. And before we get indignant about comparing one imperfect human being to another, their whole history has been one of comparison.
…The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command. (1 Samuel 13.14
The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors–t0 one better than you. (1 Samuel 15.28)
It is a comparison derived from the text.
This comparison not only showed through in their anointing, but I believe is even more clearly displayed in their identities. David found his identity in God and his purposes and plans, where as Saul found his in the title, the people, and his accomplishments. Rest assured, if a man was to find his identity in God and Him alone, it makes some things more clear.
It becomes clear what we are supposed to do. (1 Sam. 17.1-32) Saul was the King of Israel but he was not in a good spot with God. The battle lines had been drawn up and the Philistines were controlling a valuable territory both economically, geographically, and for National Security.* Who ever controlled these ridges and valley’s controlled commerce and security. Saul as the King was responsible for all of this. The victor of this battle would have the upper hand in all of these areas. Between the battle lines, a champion named Goliath would defy the armies of God, twice a day for forty days. (1 Samuel 17.16) When Israel asked for a King, it was clear that they wanted a man to go and fight their battles before them. (1 Samuel 8.20) This was what Saul was meant to do as King. Instead he and all the armies of Israel were “dismayed and terrified” at the giants words. (1 Samuel 17.11) Saul had gotten used to wearing the title without taking the responsibility; he wanted the buckle with out the beating. David, on the other hand, knew exactly who he was and what he was commissioned to do. He knew this giant was defying not just the army of Israel, but the God they served. (1 Sam 17.26) Someone had to do something and that someone would be him. “David said to Saul, ‘Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.'” (1 Samuel 17.32) Someone once said, “If we spent more time telling them who they are, we would spend less time telling them what to do!” David knew who he was and that came forward in his actions. Knowing your identity in Christ, will lead your feet to follow him, press your hands to service, and your heart to love.
It becomes clear what we are to avoid: trying to be something we are not. (1 Samuel 17.33-51a) David stepped up to fight and the first thing Saul did was to tell him he couldn’t. Goliath had been trained his whole life to fight (1 Samuel 17.33). Besides David doesn’t have the armor or the experience that Saul has. Saul tries to put his armor on David and it just doesn’t fit right. (1 Sam 17.38-39) The message from Saul is quite clear: “You need to become like me to do this”. Saul knows that David needs his resume of victories, his experience fighting, and his armor to defeat Goliath. But David has God’s process on his side. The battles with bears and lions over lambs, the heart of worship, the trust in God’s faithfulness, and the willingness to follow God (1 Samuel 17.34-37), was all the training that he needed. Instead of a kings sword, David, with sling and stone, would face the giant. Maybe that is what God was looking for the entire time. Even Goliath seemed confused that “only a boy” was sent to fight him with “sticks” (1 Samuel 17.42-43). Where Goliath and Saul missed it, David knew exactly who he was: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Samuel 17.45) David didn’t have to become something he wasn’t, change the man that God had made him to be, put on an image or keep up an act, instead, he was the man God had fashioned and empowerd. Shocking confession: sometimes, even in ministry, men can get jealous of others and try to be something they’re not. The first time I read a 17 page manuscript sermon, people hated it because that is not who I am. The first freestyle event I entered, I tried to jump a bull and he hit me in the midsection. I wanted to be Dusty Tuckness, but I am Travis Long. I beat myself up all the time because Daniel Unruh and Lucas Littles can make an extrodinary save, make a few rounds, and then get a way looking good. My saves are just that, saves with no flash. I catch myself constantly wanting to preach like Doug Aldridge, ride like Josh Rushing, the passion of Seth Reynolds, the compassion of Roger, or the steadiness of Chuck Harris. Their gifts, matched with their experience, made them who they are…so why cant that be true for me and for you?
It becomes clear when people let God determine their identity, others take notice. (1 Samuel 17.51b-58) David prevailed over Goliath and three entities took notice. 1) The Philistines took notice. They took an ran before this boy who killed their champion. (1 Samuel 17.51b) They came to watch a fight but ended up running for their life. 2) The Israelites took off after the Philistines. For forty days they cowered before Goliath, and now they surged forward and chased the Philistines from the valley because of the actions of one young man who’s identity was given by God (1 Samuel 17.52). 3) The King. Before David had killed Goliath, Saul watched him going out to meet him (55-56). He noticed the young man. After his victory, Saul again took notice of him (57-58). Saul had promised tax exemption for the family of the man who would kill Goliath. Saul probably knew David from his time serving him as a musician (1 Samuel 16.14-23), but most likely did not know his father Jesse. So he asks. But Saul’s interest in David did not stop there. His notice, would turn to envy and jealousy. Finally it would end in attempted murder and pursuit. There are men, some of whom are my best friends, who, when they enter a room, I become uncomfortable for this reason: NOTHING MAKES AN INSECURE MAN MORE INSECURE THAN A MAN WHO IS SECURE. A man who knows his identity and who God has created him to be and what he has been created to do, elicits fear, without trying, to any man who is unsure of his. David knew who he was and nothing bothered Saul more than that.
This story, told in VBS from days of old, is a little bit deeper than facing the giants in your life, it is about who is really in control and who gives voice to who you are. David’s identity in God achieved victory over the Philistine, kept him from contemporance, and challenged everyone that he would come into contact with to become better. That is the kind of man I want to be.
*a point which I am grateful for John A. Beck pointing out in his wonderful article “David and Goliath, A Story of Place: The Narrative-Geographical Shaping of 1 Samuel 17”
These were the words of a very successful Rodeo coach that I heard repeated over and over at a Rodeo School where he was instructing. From a kid setting his bareback riggin’ to a bull rider having his rope pulled, Coach Cross continually reminded them to “trust the process”. He has had great success with that philosophy. Knowing that success will arrive at the end of it, the process was all the steps between now and then.
What is “the process” that God has for making men?
David’s anointing in 1 Samuel 16 boils down what it is that God is looking for in us. But to really see what God desires from us, it helps to go back a few chapters, to the anointing of his Royal predecessor.
Saul was a man’s man. He had a famous and well known father, “man of standing”. (1 Sam. 9.1) He himself was an “impressive” man, tall (tall people are always important), and without match in Israel (1 Sam. 9.2). He was from the smallest tribe and the least-est clan (1 Sam. 9.21) but Benjamin’s importance was not reflected in its size. This tribe would stand with Judah to comprise the Southern Kingdom. They weren’t slouches.
It was because of all of this that Samuel anointed him with oil. (1 Samuel 10.1)
Priests were anointed. Those set apart for the Lord’s work were anointed. Saul knew what was happening. He would lead the people of Israel.
But before Saul left, Samuel had to give him some instructions and God had to do some work. The instructions Samuel gave told him (Saul) to go to Gilgal and wait 7 days, until he, Samuel (and he couldn’t stress that enough), could arrive and sacrifice for the new King. (1 Samuel 10.8) God’s work involved “changing Saul’s heart”. (1 Samuel 10.9) Did Saul not trust Samuel and what he had told him? Did Saul need convincing of God’s faithfulness? Did Saul need some pressing to be King? Regardless of the reason, Saul’s heart was a problem from the get go.
This chapter of Saul’s life would come to an end in chapter 13 of 1 Samuel. In Gilgal, Saul waited seven days but Samuel tarried. Saul grew impatient and, taking matters into his own and hands in his own time, offered Burnt Offerings on his own behalf just as Samuel arrived. (1 Samuel 13.8-13)
Samuel’s last words about this event would show the things God is looking for in a man. Samuel said, “…the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” (1 Sam 13.14b)
God is looking for: 1) a heart that follows Him, and 2) a person who waits for Him.
David fits both of these too a T. He didn’t have the resume Saul did, nor the stature. He wasn’t from a successful or important family. Just to prepare Samuel for his first meeting with David, God had to remind him of a truth: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16.7) Just a reminder that the way God works is often different from the way man does (2 Cor. 10.3 and nearly ever Old Testament Battle).
So Samuel after a Brady Bunch moment, finally stands before David, the youngest son of Jesse. He was a good looking boy (1 Sam. 16.12), but he was just that, a “boy”. But he was God’s “boy” who would soon enter God’s “process of manhood” so that he could someday become God’s “King”.
The process of manhood, involved cultivating a heart after God and a person willing to wait for Him. David’s heart would be molded while in caves avoiding dogs and open pastures surrounded by sheep; in army camps among his most loyal followers and encamped with his enemies as he faked insanity; while his eyes gazed at the stars passing overhead and composing Psalm 19 (“The heavens declare the glory of God”); but also as his tears fell in repentance as he composed Psalm 51 (“Create in me a pure heart, O God…). God was after David’s heart. A “broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51.17)
The process of manhood that God took David on was also one of waiting.
Saul couldn’t wait 7 days, but David lasted 20 some-odd years. David finally realizes the effects of the anointing, 20 chapters after the fact. In 2 Samuel 5.4, David finally becomes King over Israel. There had to have been times while on the run, while famished, while resting, while fatigued, while Saul was trying to kill him, while his enemies tried to kill him, while bedding down in a cave, or on a mountain, or in a creek bed, that David thought back to that day of the anointing and wondered if it would ever materialize. David knew the type of people who were anointed: kings, prophets, priests…him. Now he was a outlaw. “When?” is a valid question. Where as Saul couldn’t wait a week, David was asked to wait 20 years.
There have been times when my hardened heart will not receive God’s commands. There have been times when my heart would not follow. Resisting the process.
There have been times when I moved when God had asked me to stay. There have been even more times when I would not wait for the things God was to give me and tried to take them by force. Resisting the process.
How are you doing with the process? Is your heart growing in response to his leading? Are you allowing God to shape and mold it? Are you out running His timing by trying to take control of the speed and pace of your own life? You want something so bad, knowing that God has promised it, but are unwilling to let Him make it happen?
Resisting the process.