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October 1, 2009

America is a land of rugged individualists.  “Going it alone” is seen as a virtue.  But not so in the church - the household of God - the Body of Christ.

The Christian life was never meant to be lived in isolation.  When we come to Jesus we come to community.  A community patterned after the intimate relationship of the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).  That community relationship may seem strange to those around us.  Sometimes it even seems strange in the church.  But a community we are.

Someone has said that a Christian without a church is an orphan.  We are meant for each other.  We need the community of the church.

It has been said that everyone needs three types of people in their lives:

Pacers - those who go before us either living or dead (i.e. authors, church leaders from the past).  Pacers mentor and counsel us from their life experiences as we follow them through life.

Racers - peers that can look us in the eye and honestly tell us, “I know exactly what you’re going through.”  Racers who will run with us - hanging in there with us and (when needed) who will offer wise counsel.

Tracers - people younger than us who can mentor us from the coming up generation and into whom we can pour our lives.  I greatly appreciate hanging around our youth.  Not only do I feel less geriatric.  But, I learn tons about life.

The Apostle Paul put it this way:  “As for you, my son, be strong through the grace that is ours in union with Christ Jesus.  Take the teachings that you heard me proclaim in the presence of many witnesses, and entrust them to reliable people, who will be able to teach others also.”  (2 Timothy 2:1,2)

Do you see the three groups?  Paul the Pacer.  Timothy the Racer.  The “reliable people” are Tracers.  A community of people who together are moving forward through life with Jesus.

Mentoring is the process of pouring out the experience of our life with Jesus into the lives of others.  It is the process of encouraging others to live life with Jesus as we have learned to live life with Jesus - to follow Jesus with us through life.

Moses talked about mentoring when he warned parents of the dangers of not mentoring.  “Never forget these commands that I am giving you today.  Teach them to your children.  Repeat them when you are at home and when you are away, when you are resting and when you are working.  Tie them on your arms and wear them on your foreheads as a reminder.  Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.”  (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

How intense is that?  24/7/365 parents are called upon to mentor.  Everything they are and have is given to the essential role of mentoring.  The same is true of the church.  We must mentor.  Without mentoring the church is one generation away from disaster.

To mentor is not easy.  It would be easier to pursue rugged individualism.  Mentoring involves transparency - honesty about our failures, attitudes, and success.  Mentoring means patience - hanging in there with people who “just don’t get it.”  Mentoring requires humility -  stepping back and letting others excel where we’ve muddled along.

In the community of the church, good or bad, we’re all mentors and we all need mentoring.  Let me encourage you to not hold yourself back from what God has designed to meet your needs and from the awesome opportunity of God using you in the life of others.

In your home, in the body of Christ, who are your pacers, racers, and tracers?  What type of mentor are you to those God has placed in your life?