When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. (Matthew 17:14)
“Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. (Matthew 17:15)
I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” (Matthew 17:16)
“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” (Matthew 17:17)
Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment. (Matthew 17:18)
Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” (Matthew 17:19)
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)
Today we’re concluding a series called put people in their place.
The idea being that it’s not just about having the right people in your life but having the right people in the right places in your life.
You’re not gonna get life right if you get relationships wrong.
Because no one can be their best self by themselves.
And in week 2 we talked about the relationship of friends. And last week, week 3, we talked about the relationship of associates.
And this week, as we close, I’m wanting to shift our focus from horizontal relationships - (you’re my friends, you’re my associates) to a vertical relationship.
This is my title for the day for my notetakers: The Ministry of a Mentor
If you’re a sports fan, you have no doubt been following what’s known as March Madness.
According to my research, March Madness is a single elimination basketball tournament of 68 teams. Which are eliminated one-by-one until there is a single champion.
If my count is correct, this is the 84th March Madness tournament.
The team that has won the most March Madness tournaments, at 11 wins, is …. UCLA Bruins.
Something all sports fan would recognize is that the outcome of the game is not just determined by the players on the court or the field. It's equally determined by the coaches on the sideline.
The players on the field play the game, but the coaches on the sideline came up with the game plan.
The players are able to perform at their highest level in public because of the coaches who developed and discipled them in private.
All contribute to a talented player becoming a great player.
God puts the talent in, and the coach pulls the talent out.
And as it is in sports, so it is in the game of life.
Everyone who is growing and advancing is at some point in some area going to hit a season or a situation:
Where you've got the ability, but not the expertise.
Where you've got the acumen, but you don't have the experience.
Where you've got the will and the will-power, but you don't have the wisdom.
And in seasons and in situations like that, when you find yourself doing things you’ve never done before, in circumstances you've never been in before, you need an expertise beyond your own, if you want to be successful.
You need a coach. And God by His grace, strategically sends people into our life to help us become strong where we’re weak, because everybody is strong and weak somewhere.
Just because you make a delicious lasagna, doesn’t mean you know how to successfully operate that Italian restaurant you want to open.
In order to be successful at that, you’ll need a mentor.
And woe to the person that feels like they're so accomplished, so brilliant, and so wise that they don't need anybody to teach them.
And I went back and forth with the word ‘Mentor’ because it sounds very formal.
And what I’m talking about doesn’t need to be formal. A mentor just needs to be someone that you recognize has something to give you in some area.
You can call them your friend, you can call them your boss, you can call them your pastor, you can call them your sibling.
It’s just someone who embodies the desired destination for you in some area.
And I believe an incredible example of this is seen the scripture we just read.
Jesus is the master mentor, the greatest mentor in human history.
I mean, when you live a life, and 2000 years later, people are still follow your leadership and studying your teaching. You can be sure you’re dealing with an incredible mentor.
In Matthew 17, we read the story of a man who’s son in sick.
He has seizures.
That’s not always the case, not all sickness is satanic. Scripture doesn’t teach that.
But in this case, the ORIGIN of the issue is satanic.
When you have an issue, the first step is accurate diagnosis.
If you have a tumor, and you doctor just thinks it’s stress, the treatment that he will prescribe for you won’t be effective.
If you have an ulcer and you think it’s heartburn, you can take all the tums in the world, and it’s not gonna fix your ulcer.
Cycles vs Seasons
And people who misdiagnose their issues in life, will mislabel a cycle as a season.
What does that mean? A season is something that changes with time. A cycle changes when you do.
But if you keep doing the same thing over and over it’s not working, that’s not a season, that’s a cycle.
If you keep dating the same person, just different body type, different name, but same person, that’s not a season, that’s a cycle.
If you keep moving from job to job to job to job, thinking it’s always their issue and never yours, that’s not a season, that’a cycle.
If you keep having the same fight with your spouse, over and over and over, that’s not a season, that’s a cycle.
Seasons change with time, cycles change when you do.
And I can’t fix what a can’t accurately diagnose.
Cough syrup is not gonna fix this boys issue.
And he says “Well you guys are the spiritual business, I need you to fix this. You all hang around Jesus. You’re acting all bossy with everybody. You’re blocking kids from getting to Jesus, and Jesus has to say “Do not hinder the children from coming to me.” And blind Bartimaeus is calling out for Jesus to help him and you keep shushing him. You’re walking around like you’re all that a bag of chips, here’s my son.”
You all work at the store, I’d think you all know where the stuff is at.
So the disciples get all spiritual. “Ok, let’s do this boys.” - “We cast this demon out!!!!” And the demons like “Yawn”.
And so the dads like “Wow, very impressive fellas. Where’s Jesus?"
See I love this about this father.
He didn’t let the failure of the disciples stop him from pursuing Jesus.
He could have said “This is all bogus, I’m leaving.”
But instead of leaving because of the failure of the team, he just moves past the team, and pursues Jesus.
I love what Jesus does. Jesus is a leader. Watch how he responds: He takes responsibility for something that's not even his fault.
Because when you’re a leader, you can't simultaneously lead and blame. A leader says it's not my fault, but it is my responsibility.
And on the surface, this seems mean, it’s like ‘Whoa Jesus, chill. They did their best.’
But I didn’t understand the content until I understood the context.
See, Jesus said what he said in chapter 17, because of what he said in chapter 10, ”What did he do in Chapter 10?”. I’m so glad you asked.
In chapter 10, verse one, it says:
Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. (Matthew 10:1)
So here in chapter 10, Jesus equips and trains the disciples to do something.
And here they are in chapter 17, unable to put into practice what he taught them in chapter 10.
And so Jesus is frustrated and he’s saying “So now you want me to reteach something that I already taught you.
“I tried to make you ready beforehand, but you weren’t paying attention. You took my mentorship for granted. And now here you are, face to face with an opportunity to put what I taught you into practice, and you’re over here saying “Now how do we do that again?”
“See, you didn’t know chapter 17 was coming, but I did. That’s why I sat you down and tried to get you ready for it.”
See, you didn’t think what I was teaching you was important. And it might not have been important for chapter 10, but I was trying to prepare you for chapter 17.
Yall are gonna have to learn that my timing is perfect.
And if what I’m telling you now doesn’t seem to make sense and directly apply to your situation at the moment, you need to remember that I see what’s coming.
He was getting them ready for what they didn't know was coming.
But they had apathy. They weren’t evil, they were just, you know “Eh. I know he’s teaching something but that part doesn’t really apply to me, I'm not gonna take notes right now. I don’t play with that demon stuff. Peter, that’s all you with the demon stuff.”
Years ago, I guess 20 years ago now, I went to Bible College up in Colorado. It’s a bible school led by a man named Andrew Wommack, who I have a lot of respect for. I’m very different than him, but I respect him. And he was most certainly for me, a mentor in that season of my life. His school is very large now, I think he has maybe 1000 students currently. Well back when I went, there was like 25 of us.
Well this afforded us a very personalized experience with our mentor, Andrew.
Sometimes he would take 1 or 2 of us with him when he’d go speak somewhere. So we were able to ride in the car with him, and eat with him, and help him at his CD table or whatever.
But I remember one time I was in a vehicle with him and we were talking about something, and he told me (I was either 19 or 20), he said “David, you’re very agreeable. And that’s a great thing. And you like it when people like you, and that’s great. But if you want to be effective in ministry, you’re gonna have to make sure that you don’t care TOO MUCH about what other people think, or you’re gonna yanked around by what other people think you should be, instead of being who God made you to be.”
And I think I said “Yes, sir.”
But secretly I was thinking “Ehh, I’m not sure I totally agree with that.”
But I filed it away in my brain somewhere.
Well about 15 years later, I was in full-time ministry, pastoring people, and there was a certain season of my life, where as I look back, I can see pretty clearly that I was far too motivated by trying to be the kind of pastor the people around me wanted me to be.
And I thought at the time that I was helping them by being a bridge between them and church.
And I think I became exactly what Andrew was warning me to not be.
And as the thing that I had built started to collapse on itself, and as the people I surrounded myself with started to leave, I felt like I finally got clarity and I saw where I went wrong.
And it was very painful.
And so when I read this story of the disciples in Matthew 17, I see myself in their story. Where they’re taught something that didn’t apply to their current situation, but was going to apply to a future situation. But because it didn’t apply to the current situation, you don’t give the weight to it that you should have.
And so Jesus says, “How long am I gonna keep telling you this? How many failed exorcisms are you gonna have before you learn?” Right?
Before you learn. Because at this stage, it’s no longer a season, it’s a cycle. It will change when you do.
Now some people are bothered by the straightforwardness of Jesus.
But straightforwardness is a critical component of successful relationships.
Jesus is saying what he’s saying. The disciples aren’t having to wonder.
One of the hardest things in the world to be married to somebody or mentored by somebody, and you’re always wondering where they’re at emotionally.
A lack of truth and honesty in a relationship is a very difficult thing to overcome.
Because when you don’t give people the truth, you’re taking from them their ability to make smart decisions.
Because you can only consider what you know. You can only work with the information that you have.
So Jesus says, Bring the boy to me. And in a moment, heals the boy. And the father and the boy leave.
The disciples do something I think is so amazing.
They come to Jesus in private, and say, Why couldn't we drive it out?
They were not trying to impress somebody they were called to learn from.
Because they could have said, I'm not gonna ask him that’ll make me look like a dummy.
Listen to this: They could have spent years trying to figure this out on their own.
But Jesus saved them years with one conversation.
Because that's what mentorship does for you. Mentorship allows you to go to school at the expense of somebody else's tuition.
You got me.
They have a 3-minute conversation with you and share something with you that it took them three years to learn.
Mentorship, gives you free education that other people had to pay for.
That’s why even failure is very valuable in Christian community.
Because you paid the price for that.
And now you don’t know where the last 15 years of your life went.
But God has healed you, and now you’re clean.
So you paid your tuition. It cost you 15 years. And now, the redemptive part of that story is that God can use you. And other people can ride your scholarship. And they can learn the lesson you learned without paying what you paid.
You need somebody in your life that's not so impressed with you, and that loves you enough to point out the holes in your game. To show you what's required to get to the next level.
God knows how to bring the right people into your life at the right time and in the right area. But you must see who he sends.
And we got to know what to what to look for so you recognize them when they come.
AND - wh have to know what to offer people if we ARE one.
because many people who aspire to mentor others have only learned what to do. They have not learned how to train others to do it.
See, just because someone is good at something doesn’t mean they have the ability or desire to teach others.
So we need to settle on some criteria for a good mentor.
These are what you need to look for if you need a mentor and these are things to have if you want to BE a mentor.
Jesus is the master mentor. So I want to give you four things that we see in Jesus that make for a good mentor.
This applies to any area.
And if you find yourself having mentoring influence with others, (which if you are a Christ follower, you should).
And if you’re thinking “I don’t mentor anybody. I’m just living my life.” - I want you to think outside the box. Who do you have influence over?
If you’re a parent or a grandparent, this applies DIRECTLY to you. No one will have more influence over your children than you.
Youth pastors are important. And God can use them in amazing way to even cover the gap in poor parenting, but the most formative relationship a child will ever have is with their parents.
Do you have coworkers that have been working at the job for shorter time than you have. Perhaps you have some things you can model for them and teach them.
So this is 4 things to look for in a mentor, or 4 things to have if you are a mentor.
When you’re in a relationship with anybody, their lack of character becomes your crisis.
They shouldn't be counseling you if they don’t have character.
They shouldn't be representing you in the courtroom if they don’t have character.
They should be handling your health care if they don’t have character.
They shouldn't be coaching you in marriage if they don’t have character.
It doesn't even mean they have to share your faith. But it does mean they have to share some of your values.
Who wants a financial advisor that’s a liar?
If they’re successful, but don’t have character, move on.
They need character. They’ve got to be honest.
This includes being emotionally healthy.
Listen to me. Successful does not mean wise.
Because Jesus was emotionally healthy, he wasn't intimidated or insecure when it came to his disciples. You cannot mentor people you're competing with.
If you want to mentor somebody, you have to try to make them better than you. - And that requires character.
Character makes you a good person. But that doesn't mean you know how to give good help..
Like if you hire someone to do photography for your company. It doesn’t matter how nice they are if they’re a terrible photographer.
So whatever area you need help in, a mentor needs to have some expertise there.
They have to have experience or success in it.
And the higher your expertise in an area is, the higher level of expertise your mentor will have to have.
So for example, if you’re 19 and you’re wanting to start a business, I can mentor you in that. Probably better yet, David Goldman could mentor you in that, he’s a great businessman.
But if Art Kaplan needs a mentor. (He’s a very successful businessman) he won’t come to me or David Goldman.
No, we should be going to him. We should be being mentored by him.
For him to have a mentor, he needs someone who is the desired destination for him.
I do a fair amount of marriage counseling here at the church. And my wife and I have one of the best relationships I know. I’ll just tell you that.
And there’s a lot of young couples that could learn a great deal from us just by sitting and observing how we treat each other.
But there are other counselors here at the church that have more expertise than we do. Pastors Marshall and Cindi, they’ve been married over 75 years. Is that true?
Or Pastor Shirley was married to Larry for I don’t even know how many years.
Don and Berna woods. Brilliant marriage counselors.
They’ve gone through seasons that Jordan and I haven't.
And so they’re gonna have an level of expertise that we don’t have yet.
So if you’re getting ready to do something, or you’re going through something, find someone who has gone through it and has some experience and some wisdom that they can share with you.
I want to show you something in Matthew 17, we saw the disciples got the help they needed, because they asked questions. See, the quality of your mentor relationship is going to be based on the quality of questions you ask.
Look with me briefly at Luke 11:1:
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)
They were watching Jesus pray. Even though they had been praying their whole life. And they went to Jesus and said ’Teach us how to do that. Reteach us something we thought we already knew. We thought we knew how to pray until we saw you pray. You get results that we don’t get. Teach us how to do that.”
What don't you know because you don't ask? Where are you making assumptions, where you could be getting educated? Oh, that's just natural for them. That’s almost never true.
People who are going to advance must be willing to have their error exposed.
Proverbs 12:1 - Everybody write this down.
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid. (Proverbs 12:1)
Leave that up there because they gonna think I made that up. The writer say It’s dumb to want to be right more than you want to be better.
Matthew 16:22 The Bible says:
Peter took him (Jesus) aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22)
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23a)
Some of us couldn’t have walked with Jesus because we couldn't handle the correction.
Now listen, this word ‘Covering’ has been abused.
If it didn’t start with ‘C’, I wouldn’t have used it.
It’s a word that’s been used to control people.
So they're not trying to push you into your destiny, they're trying to push you into their desires.
But there is the biblical concept of covering that’s very important.
And it’s that God will put people in your life to protect, often times from your own stupidity.
Proverbs 11 says that “in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”
See, this is what I learned. I've learned as a pastor, it took me 14 years learn this. I've learned as a pastor, that:
But for someone like me and my wife, for someone like Pastor Marshall and Cindi:
We can provide protection for you only to the degree that you involve us in your decisions.
So if a person makes a life altering decision, and then comes and tells me afterwards, that's fine. but I'm a preacher to you.
Because you can't protect someone who's deciding and then telling you.
So you have the ask people, “Do you want mentorship? Or a confirmation?”
Because let’s not call this something it’s not. You got me?
And so we have this balance to strike, us and you.
Where you have this extreme where on one side, you have pastors trying to control people. And that’s abuse.
On the other side you have people that come listen to our sermons, and that’s the end of our relationship. You never give us the opportunity to cover you.
Where maybe you’re thinking you’re gonna end your marriage, and the only input you’re getting is from your buddies at work. And you never come and submit yourself to a process with Pastor Marshall or Shirley, for example, where we can cover you and help guide you in life altering decisions.
Covering shouldn’t be a cap. A cap limits you.
Coverage should be an umbrella.
So when you sit down, you’re covered. And when you stand up as high as you go, you’re not limited, but you’re covered.
Where all the stuff in the atmosphere doesn’t get on you.
You see what I mean?
When you wear clothes without an umbrella, what’s in the atmosphere ruins what’s on you.
And without covering the anointing that’s on you, the greatness that's on you, the potential that's on you, can get ruined, because you get exposed to elements unnecessarily.
And a real mentor tells you It's raining out there. I already got wet, you don’t have to.
The umbrella says I'm already wet. Why do both of us need to be wet. I already I learned that the hard way. Why do you have to learn it the hard way?
Especially when you dealing with Christian culture where it’s always “God said, God said, God said, God said”,
Level one is between you and God, levels two and three, you need counsel for.
You need someone besides you to help you clarify. Not “what did God say?” But “what did he mean?”
Now let's talk about the wise way to carry this out.
So maybe it’s ”God told me to start a business, so I'm leaving my job.”
Okay, wait a minute. If you say God told you, that's between you and him.
But wow what does that mean? And how do you carry it out?
Years ago, I had a very close friend, and we were bad influences on each other.
I wasn’t better than him, we were the same.
And like I talked about a couple weeks ago, there’s some relationships that are at their best when you’re at your worst, that’s what this relationship was for me.
But then God started to do something in me. And I knew that this relationship had to change.
Because it was fine for where I was, but it wasn’t ok for where I was going.
But at the same time, I couldn’t fault this guy for being who he was, because up to this point, I was just as bad as he was.
So I went to my youth pastor. Because I needed help on the interpretation and the application. I knew what God told me, but I needed someone with some expertise to help me know how to play it out.
And for 2 years, he walked that out with me.
He helped me add distance to the relationship without disrespecting the people that were in my old life.
So now me and this guy are on great terms, we love each other, we not that close, because we can’t be. But I was able to make that transition in a healthy way, because I had covering.
And as I close the series, here’s what I want to leave you with:
It’s worth the effort to position people in your life correctly. Not to judge them, but to place them in a way that will let your peace, your development, and your purpose thrive.
My prayer for you dear family is that this next season would be a season of better decisions, and fewer regrets.
I pray that God will place close, meaningful friends around you, who have privileged access to you and to your heart. People who will care for you and pour into you, as an expression of God’s grace towards you.
I pray that God will help you see the people that you need to learn from. And that he would give you the ability to lead others with wisdom and integrity.
I pray that God will give you the clarity and the courage to distance yourself from people who are unhelpful to you in accomplishing your purpose. That God will help you recognize when the season of a relationship has changed. Not to leave an empty void, but to provide space and time for the right people in the right seasons.