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KEEPING THE FAITH | Why mentoring is a biblically based concept

There is purpose in extending yourself to empower others to stir up their gifts. I encourage you to ask God through prayer to show you whom He wants you to invest in. Be open to the wonderful possibilities of equipping someone to fulfill their purpose. 
The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin

As a young man, I circulated petitions for someone seeking office. 

I approached former Councilwoman Darlene Rogers at a community event. Always straightforward, she quickly scanned the document as I touted the virtues and vision of my candidate. Mrs. Rogers then exercised her trademark behavior of grasping the eyeglasses while seriously pondering deep thoughts which had convinced me she was supportive and I had nailed it. 

I eagerly awaited her grasp of the pen. However, she unapologetically returned the clipboard back to me declining to sign saying, "Come back to me with YOUR petition for an office to sign!" 

Several years later, she would be among the first persons who affixed their signature to my petition in my quest to serve as an elected member on the Youngstown City School District’s Board of Education. Although I was not initially successful in my efforts, I would eventually serve as an appointee to the board. I am honored to consider Mrs. Rogers one of the many mentors who have challenged and inspired me on my journey. 

Although the word "mentor" itself is not found within Scripture, the principles applied are found consistently in the biblical text. Mentoring is a biblically based concept.  There are countless instances of mentoring interactions occurring throughout the Bible. 

Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, mentored him in the area of organizational leadership and self-care. In turn, Moses became a mentor to Joshua and the elders of Israel. Continuing the pattern, Joshua mentored the leaders of his army.

Eli mentored Samuel. Samuel mentored Saul and David. Nathan the prophet also provided mentorship to David who would become Israel's greatest king. David mentored his son Solomon who was noted for his uncanny wisdom and insight. Solomon then shared his ability to mentor to the Queen of Sheba, who returned to her people with his wisdom in the form of Proverbs that applied God's laws. 

Jesus — who mentored from small groups to 1-on-1 — mentored the12 disciples who helped to establish the Church. These apostles were empowered and equipped to mentor hundreds and created many leaders, including Paul. Paul mentored, among others, Timothy. 

In fact, Paul boldly tells him in II Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Emboldened and heartened, Timothy would do the same.

In some cases, such as Paul, there were persons engaged in multiple mentoring relationships. Sometimes mentoring happened on a one-to-one basis, and in other instances, mentoring occurred within a group setting. However, these gatherings were always intimate.

Bishop David L. Thomas of the Victory Christian Center Ministries has some phenomenal “Mentoring Moments” on Facebook which he pours onto others from his own personal and pastoral experiences. I glean great wisdom, insight and inspiration from his journey.

There is purpose in extending yourself to empower others to stir up their gifts. I encourage you to ask God through prayer to show you whom He wants you to invest in. Be open to the wonderful possibilities of equipping someone to fulfill their purpose. 

When God calls you to produce something, don't hesitate to plant the seeds because planting is the first step to growth. Genesis 26:12 says, "Isaac sowed seed in that land, and in the same year reaped a hundredfold." We plant seeds in the present knowing that God will give the increase in the future. 

Today is the perfect day to sow the seeds of your time, talent and treasury via mentoring which will grow into the harvest that will be a blessing for generations to come.  

Today, Jan. 10, has always been a significant day of reflection and celebration in my own life. First, it is the birthday of two now sainted, yet great influences in my life: Ora McCain Barrett, my maternal grandmother, who lived to celebrate her 100th birthday; and Myke Clarett, who served as chairman of the trustee ministry at Holy Trinity. 

Each established an impressive record of mentoring others besides me. They were confidants, counselors and cheerleaders for my numerous endeavors and community projects. 

It was on also this date I publicly accepted my call into the ministry and delivered my initial sermon at the historic New Bethel Baptist Church. Late gospel artist Delores Ware Spires, who was also my aunt, set the atmosphere — and made my preaching easier — by singing, “I Don’t Know Why.” 

The message I then delivered was entitled “Pass the Salt, Please” using Matthew 5:13 as the backdrop for the text, “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor?”

Yet, the most important celebration of the day is reserved for my bride, Dorothy, as we celebrate our wedding anniversary. It has been said, “A perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other!”  

Luther Vandross’ “I’d Rather” accurately conveys a message in song which reflects my love and adoration of this beautiful soul that completes me. Her quiet and sometimes not-so-quiet strength enables me to serve humanity. She is indeed my partner in marriage and ministry. I am a better man and minister because of my God-given mate.  

As we embrace yet another year of unknown potential and opportunities, together shall continue to keep the faith!

The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II serves as the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department and local coordinator for the African American Male Wellness Walk of the Mahoning Valley. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of six children and seven grandchildren.

— All biblical citations are New Living Translation unless noted otherwise