Proverbs 6:6–11 (ESV) — 6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. 7 Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, 8 she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. 9 How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, 11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.
Mentoring is big in our culture right now. This is true both inside and outside the Church. Executives and business people of all stripes look for those who can be their “life-coach” or “mentor”. The idea is to have someone more experienced you can dialogue with on an ongoing basis, to help you make decisions and mature in how you manage your life and career. It’s nothing new. The master/apprentice relationship worked much the same for hundreds if not thousands of years.
Actually, the Bible has had a word for this for centuries – we’ve called it “discipleship.” Think of Paul and Timothy or Barnabas and John Mark – or as far back as Moses and Joshua and Elisha and Elijah. The New Testament addresses it quite plainly in Titus 2:3–5 “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” As well as other places.
While this is a desirable circumstance, the truth is, it doesn’t always happen. And there is no shortage of complaint to be heard from all corners about the lack of having the advantage of a mentor. Some in fact, use the absence of one almost as an excuse for why they have failed to engage some things in life well. They had no one to show them. No one to guide and teach them. No one to take them under their wing.
On the one side, this points up a need within the Body of Christ, that we all seek out ministering to one another in this way. As Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthian Church opens, The Holy Spirit reminds us that even our sufferings are not our own – but are to be seized upon so as to give the benefit of how we’ve experienced Christ’s keeping power in them to others. Has God blessed you in a trial? Be ready and willing to come along side others who may be suffering now as you did – and share how Christ met you there, so that they may more easily meet Christ there. Don’t be selfish with your pain. As you’ve been ministered to, so minister to others. You’ve been given His comfort when you received it, expressly to give it to others when they need it.
On the other side, what do you do if you have no “mentor”, no “life-coach” or discipler? Sit and sputter? Bemoan the vacancy? Get bitter and wallow in self-pity? Excuse your lack of spiritual progress on the fact God has let you down in this area? Or run to the pages of Scripture and in prayer begin to let the Holy Spirit fill that role directly?
Let us take our text today and apply it to ourselves in just such a circumstance. God has not left you without. But you might have to do some heavy lifting and actually seek out someone to help. More, ask for good Biblical resources to read and study and listen to. Take every advantage of the teaching opportunities your Church gives you. Join Bible studies and ask around for things others have found useful. Read your Bible. Pray. Meditate on God’s Word. But please, please, don’t just sit there. Do not allow yourself to excuse inaction by the fact you have no one to “mentor” you. Even the ants can do what they need to do without a commander or overseer. It is good when leadership is available, ready and willing. But even when it is not – we are still responsible to be about Kingdom business – especially in regard to our own souls. Christ will attend you. The Spirit indwells you. The Word is available to you.
Never forget that even when human “shepherds” fail or are not available – the Great Shepherd is always attending you. He never leaves nor forsakes you – EVER.