I’m not always available. That’s the truth of my life these days. Ministry and family commitments which often includes quiet and uninterrupted times of preparation or travel, means that I can’t always be available to mentees exactly when they think they need me.
Immediately checking my phone every time I receive a phone call or text can lead to daily interruptions. Answering every email as soon as it lands in my inbox, or responding to every message received through social media can lead to a very unproductive day. If I am not careful, I can look up and realize that I have not been a good steward of my time, and I have lost sight of the priorities and tasks for the day.
Not being available all the time is an intentional choice. It is a choice to better steward the time and gifts God has given me. It is also a teaching moment for my mentees. I care about them and their perceived (and sometimes very real) crises. However, I am not their savior. Part of my training is teaching and preparing them to go to God first every time. He is the one who knows exactly what they need before they ask. In their deepest and darkest moments, the one they desperately need is God. I know this for myself, and this is one way I lead by example.
“A mentor’s first responsibility is to cultivate her own relationship with the Lord.”
Teaching a mentee to seek and embrace the presence of the Lord, is a very necessary and intentional act because God is always available to and present with each of us. His promise to his people is that when we seek him, we will find him, if we seek him with our whole (undivided) hearts (Jer. 29:13).
Therefore, we must avail ourselves to God, in a posture of humility and surrender. An undivided heart is a heart that has a single focus. We must elevate God above our problems, and invite him to minister in the midst of our troubles. He longs to do this for us, and be near to us. The Psalmist wrote:
“But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds (Ps. 73:28).”
It is good for us to draw near to God in this way, and to allow him to become our refuge and strength. Only then, can we tell others of the goodness of the Lord.
Mentoring as intentional discipleship includes:
- Teaching mentees to read, rightly interpret, and accept the written Word of God as true. The Bible is the book that teaches us about God, and his dealing with all creation throughout history. It tells us about God’s priorities, what it looks like to live as people in his kingdom, and finally it also has direction, wisdom, and inspiration for each of us. The Bible is the primary way God speaks to and through his people.
- Teaching mentees how to pray. Prayer is a mysterious and sacred act. When we open our mouths to pray or quiet our hearts to listen, it is an act of humility. I am amazed that God cares enough to listen to our voices and to respond. The first disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. Then Jesus gave them guidelines: First, go to the Father God; then ask for his kingdom (or will) to reign on earth as it perfectly does in Heaven; next the request is to give us enough grace to make it through and serve Him today; and finally the prayer is for forgiveness and deliverance from the evil one because God has all power.
A truth prayer indeed is all about God, and what He wants done on each.
God uses these two practical tools to make us aware of his presence, to make himself available to us, and to reset our intentions and priorities to him in light of our daily struggles and situations.
God longs to avail himself to us, but we must first avail ourselves to him. Our mentees will never learn and practice these tools for themselves if we are always jumping in trying to fix their problems, or to play god in their lives. We must resist this temptation.
What has God thought you about availability through your relationship with him or others?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2016