Originally published Monday, 09 January 2012.
Just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12
One of the most profound blessings in my walk with God has been the process of mentoring. When I was a senior in high school, I realized I had a number of snags in my life that required extra help from an outside source. A "mentor" or discipler is someone who can walk beside you (often for a season or specific purpose) to help you along the path of growth.
The woman who mentored me is still involved in my life, but for a season of about nine months I saw her nearly every week as we went through a discipleship program and Bible study. She then invited me into her life by helping or joining her at ministry events. I got to learn from those experiences what can only be "caught, not taught"!
In the passage above, Paul says that he was exhorting, encouraging and imploring the Christians there at Thessalonica. The first two words have the phrase along side of compounded in the original Greek word. The third word requires a coming along side of in its definition as well.
Discipleship is just that: coming along side another brother or sister in the Lord to help them in their walk. Paul used three words to describe his heart toward the people. One word wouldn't suffice. No three were necessary because he was so intently there next to them, watching every step and rooting for them every moment.
The woman who mentored me painted a word picture of those encouraging, exhorting, imploring sort of relationships that will stick with me always. When she and her husband were building their house she learned a construction term that beautifully depicted these relationships. The term is called sistering. This concept of sistering is employed by nailing two 2x4s together as support beams. The two sets of beams could bear more weight when they were nailed together than if they were used separately. Just like 2x4s, our lives are able to bear up against the burdens of life when someone else comes alongside us!
All of us need cheerleaders in our life. We were wired to need other people.
Take time to think of someone in your past and someone in your present who cheers you on in your walk with God. Then shoot them an email or card, thanking them for the impact they had in your life. If you can't think of someone who has been a cheerleader for you, ask God to show you someone who could be. And then invest the time and effort in making that relationship successful. Be honest with that person, even vulnerable.
Then look around and see who you might encourage in their walk with the Lord. Be available to them, love them with your encouragement and prayers. Be transparent with them. I have enjoyed the sweet privilege of mentoring younger women in the faith and have been so blessed to share life with them! I am sure I have probably learned more from them than they learned from me!
Choosing (and being) a good discipler: Lots of people out there offer their opinions and guidance, but not all of them are good disciplers. Use these questions to guide you as you select someone you want to learn from (and be like!):
- Has a relationship with God that I admire
- Has relationships with people I respect
- Has a quality I want to learn to have also
- Has wisdom on a certain issue I need
- Is not currently trapped in sin (Everyone makes mistakes, but your discipler should not be actively involved in a habitual sin)
- Is trustworthy
- Will not make fun of you and will keep what you share in confidence
- Is the same gender as me (guys with guys, gals with gals)
- Will look out for my best interest
- Will be honest with me, even if that means telling me something that might offend me
 Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. PC Study Bible. 1994
Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. PC Study Bible. 1994
Looking for more encouragement in your walk with God?
Most of us have wished for a Cinderella moment when we could step into a new pair of shoes and in the blink of an eye have our lives transformed. Or, perhaps like Dorothy, we wish we could close our eyes, click our heels and find ourselves instantly transported away from the adventure we accidentally got dropped into. While it might not come from new shoes or heel clicking, God knows our need for a changed life and fresh start! Discover the life transformation that happens when you say "Yes" to God and step into His fullness. Walking with Jesus 101 is a collection of devotionals journeying through the Scriptures that point our feet to God's pathway for living. What walk of obedience, leap of faith or stand of endurance might God be calling you to? He has good things stored up for His children who eagerly seek His highway for living!