Wisdom is an Apprentice and a Mentor
Today I taught, shared, and reminisced with a wonderful group of young women in the New England School of Missions about various experiences, life lessons, and favorite scriptures on discipleship. We talked about the importance of being lifelong learners who long to be transformed into the image of Christ. We talked of the importance of prayer, Scripture, honesty, humility, vulnerability, and perseverance as we learn and as we mentor. We can’t “fix” anyone, but we can take them to Jesus who can. We can with them as together we follow Jesus.
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18)
This evening I read a note from Jack Frederick describing apprenticeship and mentoring. Wyndham, because of the way he has lived (and lives) his life has remained both an apprentice and a mentor. In other words, always learning and always mentoring. Mentors who always keep learning and growing, no matter the situation, make the best mentors. Humility is key. Without humility, we won’t have an eagerness to learn. I so appreciate this attitude in Wyndham, who in his physical weakness trusts his strong God and continues to learn—thus still mentors. And, I appreciate the following words from Jack.
I’ve learned more from walking with experienced leaders than from all the books I’ve read and speeches I’ve heard. I learned how to effectively lead Bible studies from sitting in on so many studies led by my friend Wyndham Shaw. We were both young, but Wyndham was an experienced ministry leader who had successfully led campus ministries and large churches. Later, he and Gordon Ferguson taught and trained me and others in the role of being an elder/shepherd/overseer in churches. And we learned not just from lessons; we walked with them to see how they cared for people and wrestled through difficult situations in people’s lives. They shared their successes and failures—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
An apprentice is defined as a person who is learning a trade from a skilled employer. It’s a great way to learn, the best. When we achieve university degrees and take a job in our field, we realize we still have a lot to learn. We have textbook knowledge, but we find in applying knowledge it’s much more effective to learn from those who have gone before and figured out pitfalls we didn’t see in the textbook and classroom.
I generally find that people who are accomplished and successful tend to be quick to seek and listen to wisdom from others. Often, when we are younger we can think and say such things as, “I want to do it myself” or “I’ve got this, I don’t need help.” When I asked the CEO of Raytheon if he would like to study the Bible and to be my discipleship partner he responded, “thank you for asking me this, no one ever asked me something so important before.” He also said he had 80,000 people who told him things he wanted to hear, but no one told him what he needed to hear.
When I say “study the Bible” this means using the Bible to teach a friend to know God and what it means to become a follower or disciple of Jesus. That friend might be an atheist or agnostic, but it could also be a person who is very religious but has never really sought to understand the Bible and its teachings. I studied with a friend who had been a minister in a well-known church group for fifty-three years, yet he told me he only knew four or five Bible verses which he used over and over as he traveled around the nation preaching. This might be where you are…it’s okay to be there, it’s not okay to be satisfied to remain there; so get some determination and get someone to help you.
And for those of us who know the Bible, have read lots, and even taught Bible studies to many others…have you done so recently? If we go a few months (or years) without applying our knowledge, our abilities atrophy—just as muscles we don’t use regularly.
I’m grateful for men like Wyndham & Gordon who diligently learned to be effective in applying their faith and teaching others. I’m grateful to them and their wives, these and so many others who taught me not just from the textbook, but from their lives as they allowed us to walk with them.
I teach classes on rocket science. The thing that students and teachers like most is that I teach them the theory from the textbooks, but then I show them how we apply that math & science to actually design, build, and fly rockets. Both are vital, but academics and theories are no good unless you can prove that these work in real life situations.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
Of all the important things we do in life, learning and applying the teachings of Jesus are most important. Are you an apprentice and a mentor? Who is training you, and who are you training?