Although I am sure God could have done it all without our help, that was not God’s plan. Instead, God went through the joyful and messy business of calling flawed folks just like us into his service for fixing the world. I am not one to think that God bothered to come down from heaven, become incarnate and do all he did, just to end up dying to make things well between us and him. Rather, I think God also came to show us how to live and how to bring others into the family of God. A big part of that is called discipleship. It is about showing the new folks and folks who have been around for a while how to live and how to die. It is about the learning of who we are and how we are.
Early in the Gospels, we see Jesus calling ordinary people to follow him so that he could show them what he was doing and explain to them the how and the why of it all. When it came time for them to give it a try, he did not leave them to figure it out by themselves, but he gave them the challenge and stood by to help them when did not know what to do. Recall, the feeding of the masses. He told them to feed the hungry and when they could not, he told them what to do and each helped. The point is that Jesus is slowly building up their capabilities, not just handing them the keys to the church and wishing them luck. Following, watching and learning from the master, Jesus mentors his disciples. Only after following and seeing are they called to help. Then he watches as they work, like a master supervising a student. Lastly, he sends them out in pairs to try it for themselves. It is this tradition of discipleship that we see again in the Book of Acts. John-Mark mentored by Barnabas, Timothy mentored by Paul. And who knows about the stories of the women? I am sure that Mary Magdalene, Martha and Mary of Bethany, Lydia and more showed other women and men how it’s done.
My own experiences with mentors have been invaluable. From professors who shared with me the culture of academia to clergy who showed me how to be a priest (you know, all the stuff they do not teach you in seminary), mentors helped get me where I am. As our mentors did for us, it is our responsibility to do the same for others. As someone taught you the faith, you now teach someone the faith. As someone taught you how to engage in doing social justice, you now bring someone into the work of social justice. As someone taught you the beauty of church music, you now show someone how they too can experience the beauty of music. As someone taught you how to care for the sick, you now show someone how that is done. It’s discipleship 101. Jesus did it. The early church did it. You, me, and all of us should try it too. In this
Easter season, invite someone to learn what you have to share and consider for yourself where you might be mentored into a new area of service. I wonder how much patience Keith has for mentoring a non-musical priest?
Grace and peace,