(Part 3 – Continued from The Role of the Mentor & Parent)
When the biblical role of the mentor/parent requires us to take a step back, the role of student/child becomes much more active. The emphasis is not so much on following directions or the passive intake of information. Instead, it is about crossing narrowly defined subject boundaries to explore “in the round.” It’s about living a relevant and fruitful now rather than waiting for adulthood. It’s also about taking ownership of ones learning and applying oneself.
Like Jesus’ disciples, students should be encouraged to seek God daily, act upon His calling, and develop the gifts they were given. After all, these strengths and inclinations were given to them for a purpose. Since personal gifts and a relationship with God is central, there is joy in this! Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place. (1 Chronicles 16:27). There are also lots of opportunities for real decision-making and accountability.
A corresponding “job description” for the student looks like this:
1. Seek the Lord in all things: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33). This is foundational because it applies to ALL things: Home, work, schooling, and every other situation under the sun.
2. Listen AND respond to God: Be doers of the word and not hears only, deceiving yourselves (James 1:22). It’s imperative that we give the student time and opportunity to listen for God’s voice. Then, too, he must have time and opportunity to act in response to His inspiration.
3. Serve others by participating in the duties of family and life: “…Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28). Everyone can contribute to the family and community in some way, giving rather than just taking. Young people, even children, are capable of taking on more responsibility than we give them.
4. Explore and develop gifts and talents: Do not neglect the gift you have, …Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. (1 Timothy 4:14a,15). God has given us particular strengths so that we will develop them and use them for the purpose for which we were created. Through them, others will be blessed and God will be glorified.
5. Be humble in taking correction: Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5). Pride creates obstacles to growth. Of course, this command to have “humility toward one another” is extended to “all of you,” to the young and the old. Therefore, mentors must teach this by being the example.
6. Make an active effort to learn: Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge. (Proverbs 23:12). No matter how creative and knowledgeable a mentor may be, the student has to take ownership if learning is to happen. And, since learning can happen anywhere at anytime, this applies to more than just academic situations.
What the triangle illustrates is an arrangement of cooperative relationships in which all play a different but significant part. God is our Captain, and He is waiting to guide each one of us toward a future that only He can know. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11). No doubt, the Lord will steer us toward all the people, places, and skills we need to encounter along the way. Meanwhile the mentor is present to counsel and encourage, and the student steps forward to live and learn.