Everyone has special gifts, talents, abilities, and experiences. It would be a shame for you and I to go through life and not take the time to pour into others what we have received. I love the principle of equipping found in 2 Timothy 2:2. The Apostle Paul told his young protégé, Timothy, “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” The equipping principle of this verse creates an exponential multiplying effect, but only if those who are mentored are equipped to themselves be equippers of others. When this idea of continual, ongoing equipping is established, mentoring can go on for generations, affecting uncounted numbers of people.
Mentoring is a way for the influence of your life to continue after you die. The month after my former student Steve Szoke was diagnosed with cancer that would eventually take his life, he emailed his family and friends to talk about the power of mentoring:
I look at my daughter Jada and see so much potential for the Kingdom of God. One of my favorite things I’ve had the pleasure of doing in ministry is to develop and mentor students to step forward into ministry themselves. I am reminded of Roland, Jake, Tania, Mike and so many other students that are serving in a great capacity without the “minister” title. I believe and pray that Jada will not only follow in these students footsteps, not only follow in my footsteps, but be an even greater, bolder, creative and loving minister than myself.
Steve was constantly pouring himself into his daughter and into many students in his youth ministry. Roland, Jake, and Mike have all gone on to become “professional ministers” in three different churches. Jake and his wife, Tania, ended up ministering with the same church that Steve helped start, the Impact Christian Church in Merryville, Indiana. You could say that Jake directly stepped into the footsteps of his mentor Steve. The influence of Steve Szoke is continuing on in powerful ways through the lives of those he mentored.
I love what Steve said about how people can serve in great capacities without having the title “minister.” Once, while preaching a revival at a small church, I decided to pass out a reminder of my sermon’s main point, “the priesthood of all believers,” taken from 1 Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Our culture promotes an unbiblical separation of “sacred and secular,” and nowhere more than in the church, where we ordain professional ministers or clergy, considering everyone else laity. I made some homemade clerical collars from white poster board and then, at the end of my sermon, took off my tie and put one of the white strips of poster board in the collar of my blue shirt. I asked the congregation what I looked like; they responded, “A priest!” Then I told them that I had a clerical collar to give to everyone at the door when we shook hands on their way out.
I dared them to wear the collars the following week—at their workplace, on their tractor, at the coffee shop, or while working around the house—to remind them that each of us is a priest. The Bible teaches that every follower of Christ is a minister—not just those who get paid to do ministry. Churches are full of members who don’t realize that their “secular” jobs are places of ministry. Bob Lowery, one of my seminary professors, used to say, “Your ordination to ministry is your baptism.”
I love how Steve Szoke spoke about equipping his daughter for ministry. I have poured myself into my three children and am excited when I think of the ministry they are doing in their spheres of influence. My son Jason works for the Department of Homeland Security as well as for a medical clinic. My daughter Sarah is a licensed professional counselor. My daughter Sammy mentors at-risk kids through an equestrian ministry. They are all priests of God; sometimes I am amazed to think of all the people they are influencing for the kingdom of God. But as excited as I am about what my kids are doing, I get even more pumped up when I think about my two (soon to be three) grandkids also being priests of God. It is amazing to think about the influence your life can have far beyond your death.
REFLECTIONS: What do you know how to do that you could train someone else to do? Ask God to give you someone to mentor—someone into whom you can pour all that you are and know. Do you have younger family members to whom you could intentionally mentor? Do you see yourself as a priest of God? If not, ask God to show you how your “ordinary life” is actually a life of ministry for him.
The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others
2 Timothy 2:2