Mentoring Helps

Mentor Madness-Covering the Basics

John Eldredge, the author of the popular men’s book Wild at Heart, was having a conversation with a friend who handed him a church’s brochure on discipleship. It listed a ton of things to do, memorize, and sign up for. Once you had achieved their lengthy list, then and only then, did that particular church consider you a disciple. Whereas discipleship is commanded by Jesus Christ, the Scriptures teach discipleship is first and foremost about a life-transforming relationship with God, instead of a list of works to accomplish. I am not discouraging or even suggesting we abandon any or all spiritual disciplines. The end game of all spiritual disciplines is a healthy relationship with Christ. Like with basketball, if you don’t have the basics down, you are not in the game. You’re not even in the arena!

What are the basics?

From the neighborhood kid who uses our driveway basketball goal to LeBron James, here’s what every basketball player needs to know:

  • Lay ups
  • Shooting
  • Foul Shooting
  • Passing
  • Dribbling and ball handling
  • Jump stops
  • Triple threat position and pivoting
  • Jab steps

A good coach will work with you to know these fundamentals and help you improve. Practice, practice, practice. Whether it’s a 500am or 500pm practice, your coach will be on you to learn, improve and master these skills. A good coach will make you spend at least 75% of your time working on the fundamentals. Down the court again. Shoot again, Pass again and again and again. There is nothing wrong with effort. Learning the basics is essential towards success.

What Are Spiritual Disciplines?

So it is with mentoring. Every mentor needs to know and practice the spiritual fundamentals necessary to live life in Christ.  Those include:

  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Fasting
  • Simplicity
  • Fellowship
  • Journaling
  • Purity

Men who want to invest in others will be intentional in living out the spiritual disciplines. They won’t see them as mundane tasks to accomplish, but as ways to grow in their personal walk with Christ. If you are not growing in your walk with Jesus, you will have nothing to offer those you mentor. We are not talking perfection. We are talking a spiritual journey that intentionally pursues Jesus through these spiritual basics.

But, You Don’t Understand

What do I not understand?  “I can’t do all of those things you listed. I’ve never journaled in my life!  Why would you think I’d start now? In fact, what good would any of those do? Simplicity. Now, what exactly is that?

Here’s a quick look at each of those disciplines.  Like a good basketball player, with his eye on the prize, he willingly works on the essentials of the game.

Meditation. This is not eastern mystic meditation. It’s simply taking God’s Word and dwelling on it.  This calls for consistent, intentional time with the Lord in His Word, thinking it through and how it will impact your life.

Your words were found, and I ate them,

   and your words became to me a joy

   and the delight of my heart,

for I am called by your name,

   O Lord, God of hosts.

Jeremiah 15:16 ESV

Prayer. A healthy mentor will stay in touch with his heavenly Father. It’s no different than what Jesus did while he was on earth.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark,

he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

Mark 1:35 ESV

Fasting. Life is full of chatter; things that distract us from the Lord.  Fasting is figuring out what is distracting your walk with Jesus and intentionally taking a break from it.

that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your

Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6:18 ESV

Simplicity. Every so many years my wife and I go through a decluttering phase. Three decades of marriage and stuff piles up. Simplicity is reducing what you have, so that it’s easier to hear from Jesus.

For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience,

that we behaved in the world with simplicity

and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom

but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.

2 Corinthians 1:12 ESV

Fellowship. Uncommon community is more about sharing life in a way that the Spirit is working through each other. My cousin is planning a backpacking trip with numerous men; a physical, spiritual and relational bonding time. When they return, they will have experienced uncommon community.

Iron sharpens iron,

   and one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17

Journaling. It’s simply telling your story of what God is doing in written form. When I experience spiritually dry times, I pull out an old journal and re-read my notes. Countless times, I come away seeing greater insights into what God is up to.

You shall write them on the doorposts

of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:9 ESV

Purity. This isn’t just an issue for young Warrior men. Purity is for any man of any age. A man of holiness will practice purity.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification:that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,

1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 ESV

Three Essentials for Improving your Spiritual Basics

1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Take the list of seven spiritual disciplines above. In two columns, write down what you do well and what you don’t do well. When you are finished, your page should look something like this:

This will help you design a workout plan to improve your spiritual fundamentals.

2. Find ways to increase your play-time.  Margin is a major obstacle to growing in the spiritual basics. “I just don’t have time.” actually means, “It’s not a priority for me.” We do what we value. To grow in your walk with Christ, and thus at mentoring, do the hard work of rearranging your priorities. If you are inconsistent in the Word and meditating, then rearrange your calendar for some quality time with the Lord. When you start experiencing the joy of His presence, you won’t want to miss a single opportunity to spend time with him!  

3. Play 1-on-1 with Someone Else.  Every mentor needs a mentor. If you’ve been working on growing in the spiritual basics, find someone you can “spar” with! Not in some opposing, warring way, but in an iron-sharpening way. Learn from each other. If you are horrible at journaling and it comes easier for him, ask him to teach you. The same goes for any of the spiritual disciplines. You might discover you have meaningful prayer times, but your friend doesn’t. Connect up and spend time praying scripture over each other. As Mark Driscoll says, doing such will have a “profound and priceless” impact on your relationship.

Warrior On!

David Riffel

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Mentoring Warriors, a 501c3 charitable organization committed to equipping men to mentor and preparing warriors (ages 18-30) for life. Having gone through his warrior years essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly-released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity. David has been an architect in professional practice for over 35 years.

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