Faith Identity Relationships

Mentoring and Overcoming Lust (Part 1)

I move often, it’s just the way life has played out for me this far. As I prepare to move, one prayer, more than any other, has worked purity into my bones: Jesus, give me big brothers in this place. And without fail, within the first two weeks of every move, Jesus has given me big brothers; men who give me an open invitation into their lives. I spend time at their homes, play with their kids, learn from their failures, and all the while I continue to gain a real image of who I want to grow into — images of masculinity and representations of Jesus.

Why is this important and what does it have to do with mentoring and lust?

Lust Runs Deep

Lust is one of those things that runs deep within us. We use pornography to medicate through depression, anxiety, character failure, insomnia, and even boredom (link to https://www.provenmen.org/mental-health-depression-suicide-pornography-2/). Jesus speaks to the depth of lust when He shows us that looking at someone else with lust is the very act of willful adultery — taking someone who does not belong to you and having them however you want them. In this way, Jesus is even showing that physical virginity is useless if the person is using their imaginations to exploit the people around them.

Sexuality is a powerful thing. David and Solomon, the greatest kings in Israel’s history, were brought low by their flesh-filled longings. And even ancient secular-wisdom has stories and proverbs about great rulers undone by the lusts of their hearts (for instance, think Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey).

Healthy vs Harmful Sexuality 

Sexuality, when it is fostered and valued, can knit two people together in sacred intimacy. It can create a family space where children grow up only knowing trust, as they see parents who serve one another and cherish each other. Healthy and strong sexuality can create life and impart a dignity that goes beyond your own lifetime, into the people around you and the generations after you.

A broken sexuality, however, exploits the body, can tear apart souls, mar innocence, end a person’s childhood, and reduce people to objects of sexuality.

Incredible dignity is given when sexuality is honored, and dignity is shattered when a person’s sexuality is abused and exploited.

SO what does it mean, or what does it look like, to be mentored in this sexualized culture? And what does it look like to properly mentor?

Looking at Scripture

A number of metaphors are used in Scripture to describe what the church should look like — to name a few: field, bride and groom, and a temple. But the metaphor that is used more than all the other metaphors combined is that of family.

The apostle Paul’s letter of 1 Timothy is a letter about how the church should understand itself. Paul uses the family to structure the entire letter. In chapter 1, Paul lays the foundation by succinctly saying The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. In the church, doctrine and relationships are founded upon and motivated by love, specifically familial love.

Chapter 2 speaks about the relationship between husbands and wives. Chapter 3 argues that elders should be understood as fathers of the church; those who have fathered their families well are qualified to father God’s family. Chapter 4 talks about preserving the structural integrity of the church. In chapter 5 Paul exhorts Timothy to view older women as mothers and younger women as sisters. Paul goes on to argue that the elderly should be taken care of by the church because they are a part of the faith-family. In closing (chapter 6), Paul cements this teaching of church identity by saying that anyone who disregards it is disregarding Jesus’ teachings.

The crux and the point are this: the best mentorship takes place within a family. By design, humans cannot exist without a family, and when a family is broken apart there is severe hurt. Fathers who refuse to be fathers deny a massive part of their identity, children reject their parents love and affection are closing up their hearts and preventing growth in every area of their lives. 

The apostle Paul speaks into a context like this in 1 Cor. 4:14-15 when he says to the Corinthian church, I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you as my beloved children. Even if you have ten thousand teachers in Christ, you do not have many fathers.

Paul painted a picture of the church in a familial setting. Paul spoke into people’s lives as a father. And Paul postured himself as a father to others in order to best mentor the church into existence, through their hardships as well as celebrations.

How Do You Mentor?

Everyone mentors and everyone is being mentored: it isn’t a matter of if but how. Humans are not static beings; we interact intimately with our surroundings and with the people around us. We are shaped and we shape.

Until Next Week, ponder this…

In the next post, we’ll bring this topic back into modern-day life. Until then, wrestle with these ideas:

1·       What are the biggest/most-important things in your life and how are they shaping you?

2·       How do you influence the people around you?

3·       Do you view yourself as a mentor?

4·       What would change if you began to view yourself as an older brother or sister to those around you?

5·       How can you start to position yourself as a younger brother or younger sister to Christlike people in your life?

6·       How can you start pursuing people as family members?

Warrior On!

Shane O'Neill

Shane O’Neill is the Editorial Director for Proven Men Ministries (https://www.provenmen.org/), a non-profit, sexual integrity organization that partners with individuals, churches, and organizations to see men, women, and families discover Jesus’ freedom. Shane is currently working on a graduate degree in apologetics at Liberty University’s Rawling School of Divinity.