“Moses said to the Lord, ‘May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.’ So the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership and lay your hand on him…’
Moses did as the Lord commanded him…he laid his hands on him and commissioned him” – Numbers 27:15-23
In college I met weekly with a small group of guys and the vice president of our school. The group was meant to be a safe place where we could share struggles, ask questions, and listen for wise counsel for our peers and mentor. Looking back, I realize now that I totally undervalued that group. There was tremendous talent, compassion, and insight gathered in that conference room. I wish I have been more brave in my sharing, more honest with my questions, and more attentive to those around me. I see now, that having a quality mentor is a precious gift and one that seems to be in short supply.
The scripture says that from the time he was young, Joshua served as an aide to Moses. Moses chose Joshua to accompany him up Mount Sinai. He gently corrected Joshua’s more strident impulses. Moses selected him for important missions and generally kept Joshua close by his side. After decades of mentoring Joshua, it is no wonder that Joshua was chosen to shepherd the Israelites into the promised land.
Mentorship is seen throughout the Bible (Elijah and Elisha, Naomi and Ruth, Paul and Timothy, etc). In the early church, mentorship was the primary way the faith was shared. Learning the faith did not come through classrooms, bestselling authors, or downloading podcasts. One learned about the way of Christ from watching and following someone else who had more experience in living the way of Christ.
Godparents, or sponsors at baptism were more than aunties or uncles or family friends. They were people who had spent time mentoring and preparing the individual for baptism.
Our faith is a lived faith that is learned while on the job. We don’t go to school for 4 years, study for examines on how to follow Christ, and then hopefully graduate as a Christian. The learning process for being a Christian is an ever-ongoing cycle of real world application and learning in public.
Moses knew he needed someone to succeed him. He knew his limitations and he knew that the story of the faith would be carried forward by another.
Mentoring is act of humility not pride. It does not say, “I have all the answers, come and learn to be like me,” instead it says, “I know my time is limited so let me share the trials and triumphs I have known so that you may grow beyond me.”
We all have questions about how to live a good and faith-full life. We all have stories with wisdom and wit. As a church let us find ways to share all that we have and let us mentor on another so that we might “spur one another on to love and good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24