The Role of Mentoring in Spiritual Maturity

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The New Testament speaks often about growing in our faith and pressing on toward spiritual maturity:

  • “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity…” (Heb. 6:1)
  • “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” (1 Cor. 14:20)
  • “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.” (1 Pet. 2:2)
  • “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Heb. 5:14)

But how is this accomplished? I think the best way to answer this question is to look at how Jesus strengthened the spiritual life of the 12 disciples — through mentoring.

Let’s take a look at the three elements of mentoring to discover how we can use it to mature in the faith.

Imitating the Leader

In Ephesians 5:1, the Apostle Paul tells the church to “be imitators of God, as beloved children.” Emulation is the “effort to match or surpass a person or achievement.” Although we are incapable of surpassing Christ, we are called to imitate His life.

The disciples would constantly ask Jesus questions about where they should worship, what they should eat, and what he thought about this or that. They wanted to be perfect just like Jesus, as should we.

Philippians 3:10 says, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.”

Learning From Life Lessons

The teachings of Jesus weren’t just taught in a “classroom” or temple setting. They were object lessons taught while he was walking from one town to the next with the disciples.

In fact, during his Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew 5-7, Jesus used his surroundings to illustrate his teachings. He referenced birds, flowers, fruits, and tress when teaching the crowd the things concerning his kingdom.

Jesus knew some of the best avenues to spiritual maturity were through practical, everyday lessons. Showing the disciples how their mental knowledge translated to action was invaluable.

Times of Severe Testing

Jesus didn’t always answer the questions his disciples asked. More often than not, he gave an answer to the question they should have asked. He did this to test their faith and to strengthen their resolve.

He would often chastise them when they failed to follow through with something he taught. He rebuked Peter saying, “Get behind me, Satan” and questioned them in the middle of miracles, asking, “Where is your faith.”

He also sent them off on assignments and gave them the ultimate responsibility to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Mentoring for Spiritual Maturity

As Christians, we have this devotion to look and act just like Christ. Therefore, allow the Word of God and the life of Jesus, who is the Word that became flesh (John 1:14), to mentor you toward spiritual maturity.

Surround yourself with men and women of faith that are more mature than you and “imitate [them] as they imitate Christ, as Paul said. Prayerfully consider asking someone of the same gender to become your mentor.

Additionally, look for someone younger than you that would like to be mentored. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul said to the young pastor, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”