Mentoring from Faith, Hope, and Love

Mentors are people with more maturity and experience who guide others. The apostle Paul, trained as a rabbi, well-traveled and experienced as a disciple of Jesus, wrote at least thirteen letters to churches. Scattered among each letter are prayers for the missive’s recipients. These prayers demonstrate Paul’s concern for the continued maturation of these disciples. They reveal Paul as a mentor, teaching through prayer who God is and what it means to follow him.
Paul’s first prays that God will enable the Ephesian disciples to know him better, then later offers a prayer that reveals the power of God and the love of Christ. For a church in an Army garrison town (Philippi) that was threatened by division, Paul prayed that God would complete the work he had begun in them and that they would increase in love, knowledge, and insight (Phil. 1:9). He urged them, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). Paul told a church that he regarded as a model for others (Thessalonica) that he constantly remembered their works and endurance; he remembered also the faith, hope, and love that inspired those works. His first prayer for the Thessalonians reminds me of the final words of the “love chapter” of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Paul writes to the Thessalonians, “We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 1:2-3). Paul’s teachings had provoked positive behavioral response. His affirmation encouraged the disciples to persevere. As we influence others (and we all do), we may ask whether faith, hope, and love form the foundation for our speech and our actions. These three are more than part of a beautiful poetic passage to be read at weddings. As Paul the mentor suggested, they create the potential for kingdom living; they demonstrate that God actually reigns in our lives.
If you have been a Christian for some time, for whom do you pray? Who do you teach through word and action? Who do you mentor? If you are a new disciple, who is the older Christian to whom you look for example and guidance? We all should live so that others may follow us as we follow Christ.


About Michael Summers

Michael Waymon Summers has preached in twenty-seven of the United States as well as seven other countries. He currently preaches for a Church of Christ in Leavenworth, Kansas. Michael earned a Master of Theology degree. He also has done graduate work in international studies. Michael likes to run, loves to sing, and reads voraciously.
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