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Shaping the Next Generation

Shaping the Next Generation

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Become a spiritual mentor. Make a difference for eternity.

On one of my first trips to the Asia-Pacific Region, I had the opportunity to preach in chapel at Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary. I also preached at Philippine Theological College in Baguio, Philippines, and the Nazarene Bible School in northern Myanmar. I met passionate and talented young adults preparing to be pastors in the Church of the Nazarene. I also realized the tremendous need for professors, pastors, district superintendents, and laity to mentor this next generation of leaders.

Mentoring young people is a vital ministry today. With the retirement of many of our leaders and pastors, the church is in the midst of a huge generational shift. Recognize the God-given potential in our young people and new Christians, and invest time and energy in helping them grow and develop.

We need men and women who will help shape the next generation of church leaders.

Young adults want mentoring

The younger generation desires this type of relationship with “more experienced” Christians, according to Lifeway Research:

  • Forty-five percent of unchurched young adults identified the opportunity to receive advice from people with similar life experiences as very important.
  • Sixty-eight percent of churched young adults identified the opportunity to receive advice from people with similar life experiences as very important.
  • Young adults are interested in learning from, interacting with, and forming bonds with other generations.
  • They desire to be in activities that promote relationship and belonging.
  • They desire to connect with a mentor and learn from his or her experiences.

While the specific word “mentor” is not used in Scripture, the concept is evident throughout the Bible. In fact, we see that numerous examples of mentoring relationships took place:

  • Jethro mentored Moses. Moses mentored Joshua and the elders of Israel, and Joshua mentored the other remaining leaders of his army.
  • Eli mentored Samuel. Samuel mentored Saul and David. Elijah mentored Elisha. Elisha mentored King Jehoash and others.
  • Jesus mentored the twelve apostles who established the Christian church. The apostles mentored hundreds of other leaders, including Paul.
  • Paul mentored Titus, Timothy, Priscilla and Aquila, and many others.

Paul’s principles of mentoring

As a mentor, be a spiritual example. Paul told his followers that they should look to him as an example in the same way he looked to Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). He is simply saying “follow me as I am following Christ.”

Pray for others. Paul began with the comment that he had prayed for the believers in the different churches (Philippians 1:3-6, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, 3:10-13, Colossians 1:3). One of the best ways to positively affect others is through prayer.

Encourage young people in their spiritual growth. Paul gave specific instruction and challenged people to develop spiritually and to live holy lives. Spiritual growth does not happen automatically or in a vacuum. People need to be encouraged to grow and mature in their faith.

Train them to train others. Paul told Timothy that Timothy should teach others the things he learned from him. But the process does not stop there. Paul said that Timothy should train his disciples to train other disciples (2 Timothy 2:2). One of the greatest joys of being a spiritual mentor is to see people turn around and mentor others.

Seek young leaders to mentor

I encourage you to look for young people who have leadership potential.  Ask God to show you how you might help them mature and become useful to God and His kingdom.

I am grateful for those who have mentored me through my life: my parents, Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, professors, district superintendents, my brother, and other pastors. It is my desire to encourage and mentor pastors and the next generation of leaders. May God help us as we work together and become spiritual mentors.

David W. Graves is a General Superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.

Holiness Today, Jan/Feb 2017

Please note: This article was originally published in 2017. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.