What Moses Teaches Us About Mentoring

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Moses and Joshua
Moses (right) and Joshua

Are you involved in a mutually beneficial mentoring/student relationship? What is holding you back?

You don’t have to be perfect to be a mentor—just willing. The man who struck a rock when God had said, “Speak to it,” got disqualified from entering the Promised Land … but not from mentoring Joshua.

I can think of a number of unwise decisions I’ve made in leadership that might give me pause about ever qualifying as a mentor. I overspent on a building program once that almost sank a church. Another time, I landed in the hospital with chest pains that turned out to be stress from too many long days and not taking a day off.

Despite these and other flaws in my leadership, God put a desire in my heart to look for mentoring opportunities. Some of that desire was perhaps repayment for the people who have invested in my life.

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Just last Saturday at an event, I ran into my friend Mike. We immediately had a connection. It started with a season of mentoring four decades ago. I can’t take credit for the godly husband, loving father and successful entrepreneur Mike has become, but I can rejoice with him.

My definition of mentoring is this: simply sharing your life with someone who is willing to walk with you according to some mutually agreed-upon terms. What do I mean by “terms”? Something as informal as “We will meet for a couple of hours each month (or quarter) and will stay in contact as needed.”

A Biblical Example

The Moses/Joshua model is enlightening in a number of ways that get to the heart of mentoring. Let’s take a look:

1. The Lord directed Moses to put certain things in writing (Ex. 17:14)—“and make sure that Joshua hears it” (NIV). That way, there would be clarity that endures, even though people and circumstances might change. Verbal promises need to be recorded. I often share a story in mentoring situations about giving up a car once because there was no record in the board minutes that it had been a gift to me.

2. Moses took his young friend along to important meetings (Ex. 24:12-13). Up on the mountain, they met with God in dramatic fashion. One of my routines is to talk with those I mentor about my own call to the ministry and how I struggled with a secular job offer while in graduate school that obviously would have led me astray. But God’s voice is to be obeyed.

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