It seems that gone are the days when a person would invest of their own time, energy, and finances into someone else for the sake of someone else. Call it mentoring or an apprenticeship, whatever it is, it seems it’s an ancient model for learning.
The model of learning today is classrooms with lectures, youtube videos broadcast over the internet, and fee-based coaching. If you want to learn how to do something, you pay someone to teach you how. Rarely does anyone study as an apprentice anymore. Nearly every apprenticeship program exists within the four walls of a trade school.
What’s the difference? One very major component has all but vanished from learning: relationships.
In the classroom, you’re taught to “read a book and you’ll learn how”.
In a relationship, you’re taught to “watch me and I’ll show you how”.
In a classroom, mistakes are costly and could mean you’ll fail the course.
In a relationship, mistakes are valuable and teach you lessons from which you’ll learn how.
In a classroom, most of the information is transmitted via a lecture.
In a relationship, most of the information is transmitted via a conversation.
I believe there’s incredible value with education in a classroom. I’m proud of the education I received from Bible College. However, what I’m observing is a tremendous waste of influence from highly educated and incredibly experienced people who are missing the opportunity of passing on that knowledge and wisdom because of a lack of intentional relationships with other people.
In the New Testament Paul challenged a young preacher named Titus to teach mature members of his Church to invest themselves into others. He said in Titus 2:3-5, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”
Did you catch the underlined phrase that I wanted to emphasize? Older women were to live honorable lives, not simply to benefit themselves. But so that they may “encourage the young women” to do the same. What a difference this would make in our churches if older, more mature believers in Christ invested themselves and their faith into new believers?
I guess one could go to school to learn how to live as a follower of Christ. Perhaps a couple of years in Bible College would help suffice. Or mature, Bible believing, faithful to Christ Christians who have a few years living like it could teach others. Isn’t that the model Jesus used for his twelve disciples?
What would it look like for you to invest yourself into someone else? Look for someone a generation behind you. Look for someone who is stepping into shoes that you’ve already walked in. If you’ve been married for ten years, look for someone newlywed. If you’ve been a Christian for twenty-five years, look for a new believer. Perhaps you’re kids are grown and you could share in the joy of lovingly serving new parents. Share a little bit of your hard-learned wisdom. Just give it away. Invite them out for coffee. And strike up a conversation about what you have to offer.
I recently did this with a group of guys who are stepping into Church leadership. I invited them over to my house for dinner and issued them an invitation to join me in reading a book a month for nine months. The conversations taking place within this small group of guys is priceless.
I’m also seeing the fruit of this kind of relationship with a young man in my Church. I met Josh three years ago when we moved to Warrenton. Since that first conversation, Josh has enrolled into Bible College to study ministry, he’s taking an active leadership with his wife in teaching within our student ministry, and last Sunday he preached his very first sermon for our Church (click here to watch Josh preach). I couldn’t be more proud of Josh. And while I give 100% of the credit to his spiritual growth to The Lord, I can’t help but think I had a hand in making a small investment of myself into his life.
I think it’s time we resurrect relationships as a mode of teaching others and intentionally invest some of ourselves into someone else. What would that look like for you? (Share your thoughts or ideas in the comment section below.)