"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." 
 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV) 

In Paul’s epistle to Timothy, we have a mentor-disciple relationship between Paul and Timothy. Paul was like a father to Timothy and one of the important points that Paul reminded Timothy was not to let anyone despise his youth (1 Tim 4:12). By this, Paul was encouraging Timothy to act like a Senior Pastor even though he must have been very young by the Church’s standard. This was an empowering act, similar to what Jesus said in John 20:22, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (NIV). Mentoring someone is one matter and it should not just end with the transfer of knowledge, but with the application of things learned.

Some questions for today’s mentors are:

  1. What should we consider as the means (think of modern technology and even older, tried-and-tested ways) that are available to us today to mentor others just like Paul did with Timothy?
  2. Will we allow the lack of close proximity or time to prevent us from encouraging younger Christians?
  3. Can anything stop us from being an encouragement to others?
  4. Are we bold enough to empower someone to serve God?

Throughout the Church’s history, Christian leadership has always been passed down from one generation to another.

The early Christians did not have a formal institution to train their leaders but depended on people who were more spiritual to show the potential leaders the ropes through informal guidance and lifestyle modelling. The impartation of knowledge (teaching) is important but it is only a part to the holistic learning process. We need to complement it with a relational approach (mentor-disciple), emotional bonding (friendship) and all these must be centred on Godly precepts.

There are many young Christians out there who may need your spiritual counsel. Paul did not let his imprisonment shackle him from encouraging a young pastor. Likewise, the needs of spiritually young Christians are always there, and we must keep moving with God to rally and strengthen younger Christians to be steadfast and keep growing in their daily walk with God.

Lord Jesus, come and be my very own Mentor. I want to learn from Your ways. Thank You for biblical examples like the Apostle Paul who saw the leadership potential in young Timothy and built the mentoring relationship with him. Help me find good mentors for myself, and also show me who I can mentor in return. Even when it may be difficult or inconvenient to mentor, help me continue to do so, and be innovative yet biblically sound in my approaches.
In Jesus’ Mighty Name, Amen.

By Bro Lai Kok Weng
Reproduced and adapted from MCF Onward Soldiers – Leadership (April 2003)