Coach. The term used to be reserved for people who filled out little league line-up cards and for the volunteer leader of the debate team. But no longer.
Though we are all grownup, we still get to get coached!
Every day, we receive an assorted pack of twitter invites, emails, LinkedIn notifications, and Facebook messages from friends, acquaintances, and our unknown bud in South Africa (Who knew?) graciously offering to be our new life (ministry) coach. Essential these buds and buddets want to be our next mentor.
And they are not alone. Friends, pastors, and coworkers that we actually see in the flesh will often offer to mentor us or to help us grow in the faith. If we want a life or ministry coach, all we have to do is whistle and say, “hello.” Within second our coach will be emailing us his amazing life plan! (And people wonder while millennials have made “adulting” a thing. But I digress).
Coaching and mentoring is in vogue. I applaud this development. As believers we should all seek to learn from others and to seek to be equipped by others. The gospel calls the people of the church to lovingly invest in each other’s lives. But the question remains, “who should be our life coach?” Who should be our mentor, teacher, and encourager? Who should we sit down to coffee with when are marriage starts to fall apart, when our deacons threaten a vote of no-confidence, and when our kids declare that they are over church? Do I really need the guy from South Africa?
Probably not. But we do need the man or the women who is sold at for the Lord. We need to place ourselves under those who place themselves under the authority of God revealed in the Scriptures. Notice how Paul begins the letter of 2 Timothy 1:1-2
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus. To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
All the advice of Paul flows from the will of God to declare the truth that we have life in and through Christ Jesus. We need mentors like Paul. I do not mean we need modern day apostles to come to our house for meatloaf. We need men to lead men and women to guide women who understand that their authority and that the resources for life-advice is the Scriptures. We need mentors who will declare the Word of God to us without fear, lovingly encouraging, rebuking, and admonishing us. When we find mentors of this caliber would should listen to them because following them increases our understanding of God.
However as we seek out such mentors and seek to be such mentors, we must remember that titles mean little. The validity of someone’s counsel does not depend upon their title of Pastor, Associational Missionary, or SBC President. We should not view someone to be an authority because he or she grew a tiny church into a large church, raised lots of money, or built up a wealth of connections that he or she is parlaying to gain positions of prominence and notice. We should only listen to the names behind these titles and success stories if they have placed themselves under the authority of the Scriptures.
The validity of our wisdom does not come from our schooling, our number of twitter followers, or from being on the church staff. Our wisdom is only wisdom if it reflects the message and content of the Word of God.
Many distinguished leaders in the SBC ranks encourage pastors (especially young pastors) to run up and down the organizational ladder for advice, counsel, and wisdom. But these distinguished leaders often forget that titles are empty awards handed out by partially blind men and women that may or may not reflect spiritual realities. Organizational hierarchy cannot be universally equated with personal holiness and with godly wisdom. Age and years of ministry service do not reveal that the veteran in question submits to the authority of God. Evil men and women regularly move in and out ministry circles eager to share all kinds of demonic and worldly wisdom.
We should be more concerned about our potential mentor’s understanding of the gospel than about his or her titles, degrees, and influence. We should seek out men and women who know that Jesus is their authority and who confess him in all that they do.
Do you know this kind of man or woman? Are you this kind of man or woman?