Tony attended the small church where I pastored. When I first met him he would show up on Sunday wearing a plain white T-shirt and a metal chain around his neck. He had grown up in a gypsy family on the South Side of Chicago. The good news was that our little church was growing! The bad news was that it was hard to find people willing to serve in that tough South Side neighborhood. Who would God choose for the job? I was surprised when God drew my attention to Tony.
Tony often came to our men’s fellowship on Saturday evenings. Since he had grown up in the area, he truly cared for these men. One day, Tony and his wife, Linda, began working with a woman whose husband was abusive. They gave her a ride home, only to find the husband in a fit of rage. Instead of meeting the challenge with fists, Tony spoke sternly but with compassion, “We want to help.” That husband began seeing Tony for counseling, and it became clear that Tony had a God-given heart for troubled people. Tony was a solid leadership choice—faithful, available, Spirit-filled, and teachable. At first Tony was scared, but as he continued to demonstrate calling, character, and fruitfulness, he grew in leadership. Today, Tony is a pastor that has led many people to Christ.
Mentorship is not just a modern-day concept. It was an important part of the New Testament church. The apostle Paul mentored several younger Christians, including Titus (Titus 1:4), and Timothy, whom he called his “true son in the faith” (1 Tim. 1:2). Through time spent side by side in ministry, and later through letters, Paul passed down important truths, shaping the faith not just of these men but generations of God’s people.
Paul compares growing in spiritual maturity to training for a sport. Just like a coach helps athletes fine-tune their natural ability, mature believers can help guide the next generation to grow in Christ. Paul writes, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things” (1 Tim. 4:8). Paul’s letters are a reminder to those of us who are mature in the faith to mentor younger believers. Do you have a heart that is open and willing to learn? Ask God to use you today!