Tip #6: Be Trusting (1 Timothy 1:18).
“And remember, Dr. Jones: don’t trust anyone.” Such were the parting words that Walter Donovan gave Indiana Jones as he left for Venice. Well, Indiana did not heed that wise instruction, for he ended up trusting some Austrian chick who betrayed him to the Nazis (don’t you hate it when that happens?). Ironically enough, Mr. Donovan then shows up again—this time as a Nazi sympathizer—and repeats: “I told you not to trust anyone.” Apparently, you can’t even trust the person who tells you not to trust anyone! We live in a messed-up world.
Trusting people is hard because people do what people do—they mess up, they sin, they disappoint, and they act in other generally stupid ways. The whole lot of us! And we all can recount times when people have let us down. That’s why the Bible places such an emphasis on trusting God—He’s the only One Who can NEVER let us down or betray us. How cool is that!?
Now, I think this can—and has—been taken too far. Yes, we are not to depend on people, but at the same time, we cannot function in this life unless we have some measure of trust for people. I trust people enough to not run red lights (although I’m losing more and more of that trust). I trust people not to steal my mail from the mailbox. I trust people not to light my house on fire. All these trusts can be broken, but if we don’t live with any trust of people, then we’ll live with a whole lot of paranoia. Life doesn’t work without a little trust for people.
Similarly, the mentoring relationship doesn’t work without a little trust. Of course, the mentee should trust you, the mentor—and I think you’ll find that he does (all the more reason to press on in doing what’s right, as we discussed last week). However, you should also place some level of trust in your mentee. I think older people have a hard time trusting younger people—which is justifiable given how many in our generation spend more time talking to Siri than to our moms. However, if you have invested time and energy into a young man and find that he appears reliable, then you should seek to trust him with things.
That’s the only way he can learn. Giving him head knowledge is one thing—you must also give him practical experience in ministry, which requires trust. Allowing him to run children’s church requires trust—but he longs to see you respect him enough to give him responsibility. He may (and will) mess up, but the lessons he learns in the process will be invaluable. Everyone needs their first break.
Paul seems to have given it to Timothy. In 1 Timothy 1:18, he writes, “ This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare…”
Paul trusted Timothy enough to commit a charge to him—what charge? Well, scholars believe Paul had entrusted Timothy with the leadership of the church at Ephesus. Now, that’s a big church—I’ve been to the ruins and seen firsthand how big of a metropolis it was by ancient standards. Paul had spent years there reaching that city and its surrounding province and had developed a fairly strong ministry there. The fact that he committed this hefty assembly to Timothy means he trusted him quite a bit.
Now, I’m not expecting you to resign from your church and give it to your mentee. In fact, Timothy was likely a good bit older than your mentee and had traveled with Paul for quite some time. Also, Paul mentions the “prophecies” made about him—that seemed to indicate his faithfulness in the future (but who knows?). Of course, I don’t think your mentee has any prophecies written about his future—unless his name is Thorin Oakenshield or something. But you should still trust your mentee—and prove it in some way.
Try it. Maybe start small at first and ask him to help you carry chairs or keep control of kids. Then gradually work your way up until you can ask him to preach on a Sunday and even entrust your very pulpit to him someday. After all, you’re not going to live forever (news flash!). It’s time to start training the next generation. And that starts by trusting us a little bit and giving us practical opportunities to grow…