Have you been stopped from doing something you really longed to do and knew you were able to? How did you feel and react? David found himself in such a situation. He wanted to build God’s house but God didn’t allow him. Denied his heart’s desire, David could have done two things: rebel against God and build it anyway, or sulk at being rejected and be upset with God. But God had a better plan for David, just as he does for Christian leaders today: mentoring!
David proved to be “a man after God’s own heart.” He made a difference in his time and left a legacy of a divine principle for generations to come. He chose to mentor the person God had chosen for this task–Solomon, his successor. Thus, David still speaks and shows us “a more excellent way.” No one is a success without a successor! The challenge for organizational leaders is to seriously ask ourselves, “Is God going to use me to do something, or is God using me to impact someone else to do something bigger and better that me?”
Mentoring is a mark of true spiritual maturity. It entails watching God develop others through you and rejoicing that they are being greatly used by God. This requires nothing else than a heart that is totally committed to God, seeking nothing less than his kingdom. Think of the cost involved in mentoring. It means you, as the leader, spend your energies pouring your life and resources into others, whom God uses in a greater measure. Then you applaud them as they pass you by. This isn’t easy, is it? Yet mentoring is investing in order to receive dividends that are literally out of this world. David must have realized that he was not going to live forever to do everything he wanted, so he mentored Solomon. But how exactly did he do this?David mentored Solomon in at least four exemplary ways. First, David was an encourager(1 Chron. 28:9). David took the time to lovingly yet seriously communicate God’s purposes to Solomon. “Go for it son,” he seems to say. “You can do it and do your best.” He urges Solomon to ardently serve God with a loyal heart and willing mind. To be a mentor, we must believe God and believe in people also. David, confident that God will use Solomon, is determined to instill that same confidence in him. His words of encouragement include caution against selfish and impure motives. It is always a vulnerable thing to rely on others, but mentoring begins and progresses on the basis of trust. We come alongside younger or needy believers who are sincere learners to challenge them to get to know God and assure them as they do his will.
Second, David was an equipper (29:1-2). He recognized that Solomon was young and inexperienced; doing God’s work is always a difficult and demanding task. Solomon needed his moral support, influence, and guidance as well as material supplies. So using foresight, David made the needed preparations for building the temple. At the most practical level he made mentoring Solomon his life’s mission. Equipping implies giving the means, tools, and resources needed to get a job done for God. It is coaching with the required knowledge, skills, and passion. In this regard being a Christian parent-teacher is an ideal sphere to model mentoring by equipping those entrusted to our care.
Third, David was an example (29:3-4). King David not only made arrangements for the building from Israel’s national resources, but also gave from his own special treasures. Isn’t this the essence of mentoring–giving away one’s self for the people we seek to mentor? Mentoring has little to do with good intentions and everything to do with Christian character and a sacrificial lifestyle. People become aware of what leaders say, and more so of what they do, but they are most influenced by who we are! More than reasons and resources to serve, younger leaders need relationships that set before them a godly example of what it means to believe God and accomplish great things for him.
Fourth, David was an enlister (29:5-9). David believed in God, people, and teamwork. He did not forget that during the struggles of his younger days he had been given “a band of men whose hearts God had touched.” Like him, Solomon also needed a loyal group if he was going to be successful. David impacted the leaders of Israel, got them involved, and inducted into Solomon’s team and divine assignment. “Who else is willing and ready to go and do what I did?” he challenged them. Touched by David’s sacrifice, these leaders were also willing to give of themselves and their wealth for Solomon’s temple. Note how Solomon’s performance and success now become David’s joy and success. David thus encouraged, equipped, set an example for, and enlisted others for Solomon, whom he mentored into greatness for God’s glory.
The Perfect Mentor was none other than the greater grandson of David–Jesus of Nazareth. Interestingly, Jesus Christ did not come as a king, but chose to be a servant. This is how he shared God’s life and love with us humans as He ministered to the multitudes and met their needs. However, Jesus hand-picked and personally trained only twelve disciples (Mk. 3:13-14). These were his immediate audience, primary ministry, and earthly family. He gave them his word, empowering them by his Spirit to do his own work (Jn 20:21). His goal was to equip these future leaders to carry on his own mission of building the people of God.
Is it a farfetched statement to say that the Church came into existence as a result of Jesus’ mentoring of the Twelve? Soon these disciples became apostles to proclaim Jesus’ message to the end of the earth by reproducing his example. Mentoring is an apostolic ministry in the literal sense of the word. “Apostle” is derived from (apo) stolon, where “stolon” was a root that spread underground to form a plant with the ability to put down a new set of roots. Mentoring is the force and divine method by which the New Testament Church grew. Paul used it and clearly taught it as a principle for Church growth (2 Tim. 2:2). God gives all true spiritual leaders new, younger leaders to train for the Church. Note that in mentoring the transferring of this training is equally important. We are to be engaged in training trainers.
Even today, mentoring is how God fills his kingdom and Christ builds his Church. As servant-leaders in the kingdom, are you being mentored by and a mentor to someone? No one is a true success without a successor. Through mentoring, may God’s will be done and his kingdom come.