Editor’s note: We are continuing our blog series on mentoring using the Mentoring Pillars written by the late Jim Feiker, a former member of SEND International. This seventh pillar explains the importance of relying on divine resources in order to see real transformation in the lives of our mentees.
The danger of spiritual malpractice
Have you ever wondered what spiritual ministry malpractice might look like? Is it possible to be the most skilled facilitator in the learning process, have a great relationship with a person, and still be out of harmony with what God is doing in a person’s life? We are called to a divine ministry to enable divine work in God’s eternal people through his Spirit. To this end, God has given us his unlimited graces to partner with him in ministry. He knows that without us utilizing his dynamite resources, we will be ineffective and powerless. God’s work, done in God’s way, will experience His power and blessing.1 This last sentence is an adaptation of a quote from Hudson Taylor – “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”
Empowerment means not human equipment, but divine enduement. It is possible to be splendidly equipped from man’s point of view, yet magnificently disqualified in God’s estimate. Prayer gives a new vision to the soul, a new contact with God, and a new hold upon God; it makes possible a larger recognition of divine resources, a fuller reception and consequently a fuller distribution.Arthur T. Pierson
Therefore, the critical question for us is this: Are we relying on our skills and gifts, or are we depending on the Spirit of God and His divine resources to do His ministry?
I would like to suggest five biblical perspectives that explain why we need to carry on spiritual ministry with divine resources. They also will help clarify our role and God’s role in the transformation process.
1. Our mentees are under Christ’s Lordship
The people we minister to are under Christ’s Lordship. Since he is their owner and manager, he is ultimately responsible for their growth and the enablement to do his will. Indeed, Christ gives the desire (motivation) to do his will and the power (discipline) to do it (Phil. 2:13). God is the only one who can bring inner change to values and character and create an eternal view. It takes a great deal of pressure off us when we realize God is able and responsible for a person’s growth.2 Rom. 14:1-4; 1 Cor. 3:7-10
2. We are in a spiritual battle
We are actively involved in a spiritual realm and warfare. That reality and its influence totally affect the way we minister. We must therefore recognize the invisible battle that is raging in people’s lives (Ephesians 6:10). We cannot enter Satan’s territory and affect change without first encountering and destroying him (Mark 3:27). Only divine spiritual resources can affect the supernatural realm.
Matthew 17:14-21 tells the story of when the disciples were asked to drive out evil spirits from a child. They had tried various means and still were unsuccessful. Jesus comes on the scene and speaks with authority and power to the real source of the problem. It was a spiritual issue that needed to be addressed with supernatural resources. So, Jesus rebukes the demons, and the boy is set free from his bondage and healed. The disciples are baffled as to why they were so powerless since they had earlier been given authority from Jesus over the spirit world.
Divine resources needed
When the disciples later seek Jesus’ perspective privately, he zeros in with an answer that gives a powerful insight into effective ministry. “This kind of ministry only happens as the result of prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29). Our dependence on him and spiritual resources are the crux of spiritual ministry. The weapons with which we fight are not the weapons the world uses. The spiritual realm (made up of angelic hosts and demons) can be seen and understood only through the Holy Spirit, faith, and the revelation of the Scriptures. But it is just as real as the physical realm which we understand by the physical senses. Only spiritual weapons and resources can break down spiritual strongholds in lives and defeat the unseen enemy, Satan (2 Cor. 10: 3-5).
The U.S. Navy would look very silly in using submarine warfare on land. Actually, it would be useless and ineffective. Similarly, neither do we attempt to use physical means to achieve spiritual objectives. Satan is bringing his influence to bear in a negative way in many of our attempts to minister to people. If we overlook this unseen reality of the spiritual realm and warfare in our teaching, counseling, discipling, or mentoring, we will seriously miss much of what is really happening behind the scenes in people’s lives. We must also remember that satanic influence is not the only picture we look at. But to be holistic, we must put the spiritual realm into the equation for accurate diagnosis and prescription.
3. The Holy Spirit is their indwelling teacher
A living “divine resident,” the supernatural Teacher is in us and in those to whom we minister. The Holy Spirit is the ultimate teacher who has been “called alongside to help.” He has been sent to guide, teach, motivate, remind, and reveal Christ and the Scriptures (John 14:26). Without his breathing life into a person, what we do is meaningless.
Therefore, the Holy Spirit is key for growth. As a person experiences the Spirit-filled life, they will grow and be transformed into the likeness of Christ (1 Cor. 2:13-14). Similarly, an effective spiritual mentor needs to be controlled by the Spirit. As he anoints our life with his power and manifests his character, and as we listen to his voice, we can model and speak with power into another person.
Implications for mentoring
The reality of a mutual “divine resident Teacher” has profound implications for the way we mentor. We do ministry with the Holy Spirit, and not for him. We are not on our own as the sole change agent trying to make something happen. Personal transformation is not really dependent on our persuasive abilities or our great skills in communicating or facilitating the learning process. The Holy Spirit is the heavyweight, making things happen in people’s lives. Therefore, we can relax more and let God work.
Calling the plays on the field
Furthermore, Christ is not a passive coach on the sidelines in the ministry of mentoring. Instead, he is an active quarterback coach, calling the plays and giving counsel to us on the field of ministry. He does not give us something to do and then check up on us later to see how we did. The Holy Spirit is present and actively involved in the lives to whom we minister. This is his ministry, not ours. Therefore, we need to join him, controlled by the Spirit to harmonize with how he is already involved in people’s lives. 3See the fourth pillar in this series – Discerning where God is working in mentees.
Listening to the Spirit
The Holy Spirit will work in people’s lives by convicting, creating need, and motivating as we relate to them. We can expect that God is actively working.
He will give us words, verses, and insights while we are in the middle of conversing with our mentees. We need to be dependent on him throughout our interaction with a person, listening to his voice. The Scriptures say that we have the mind of Christ41 Cor. 2:16 and that he is powerful to give us insight, wisdom, and words in season.
Effective ministry is not always dependent on talking. We need to listen more to people and let the Holy Spirit do the inner teaching of the heart.
4. Christ is their High Priest
Fourthly, the mentees’ ongoing relationship with Jesus is also a divine resource we should utilize. Believers can go directly to Christ as their High Priest. They can ask him for the resources to live and minister to other people. Under the New Covenant, each of us has direct and unlimited access to the presence of God (Hebrews 4:14-16). Therefore, we minister in a different way (2 Cor. 3:5-6).
5. Real transformation requires divine change agents
Biblical transformation is dependent on divine change agents. How does God bring about change and growth in the heart of a person? The answer is clear from Scripture. It happens by the ministry of the Spirit using spiritual transformation agents. We must join him by using them, too. To not acknowledge and utilize spiritual resources and weapons is spiritual malpractice. Why? Because we are depending on, and utilizing means that will not make a real difference in people’s lives. Any other means are illegitimate substitutes for the real and provide only temporary bandages to the heart.
So, what specifically are some of the primary divine change agents that the Holy Spirit uses to transform the heart of the mentee?
Divine Resources for Transformation
Life experiences are the anvil on which God works out and shapes us into his image. He makes his divine brush strokes in our lives to form us into his image (Ephesians 2:10). These are his training components, tailored for our life by a loving God. It is our response that is critical (Hebrews 12:11).
The Scriptures and promises of God
The Scriptures reveal God’s truth which gives us understanding to interpret our life experiences and circumstances from God’s perspective. God’s Word, by its very nature, is eternal and has the innate power to penetrate the heart, transforming us into his divine nature (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 1:4). The Word of God renews and transforms the mind to think God’s thoughts (Romans 12:3). This process of renewal is most active when we continuously meditate on and apply the Scriptures. We are to equip ourselves with the Word of God and to use it appropriately. So, part of mentoring is equipping others with the Scriptures and helping them use them wisely with grace.
Intercession for a person activates and unleashes the power of God in that life and is essential for spiritual transformation to take place. Charles Swindoll has said that teaching a person to pray and how to pray is the greatest thing we can do for them. Connecting people to this divine power in a living, dependent relationship with Jesus will transform their life (Eph. 1:15-20).
A healthy, authentic, loving community
The Body of Christ is a living and eternal community. Furthermore, the community provides mutual fellowship, healing, and significant relationships. God has designed that many different people and mentors will influence a person for healthy growth. In other words, each member of the Body has a unique task or contribution, given by God, to make in a person’s life.
The believing community helps us to interpret life experiences and to respond appropriately to God. In the context of a relationship, we understand ourselves and discern our gifts and calling. Therefore, the truth of Scripture is best worked out in community. In the community of believers, we learn a balanced revelation and receive counsel on the direction we should go.
Personal response to God
A person’s response to God’s dealing in their life is also an important transformation component. Are they responding with thankfulness? In obedience? With confession of sin? See Hebrews 12:11 and James 1:2-4.
We grow towards maturity over a period of time as we learn and apply the truth of Scripture to our lives. A young Christian can be spiritual (controlled by the Spirit), but they cannot be mature. That is to say, maturity is character formed over a period of time. It is easy to develop ministry skills and knowledge in people, but only the Spirit forms character. God specializes in character development through divine resources over time (Hebrews 6:12-14).
Spiritual maturity = life experiences + the Scriptures + community + our response to God + time
Our role in mentoring
So then, what is our distinctive role in spiritual mentoring? As a minister of God, it is imperative to walk in and be controlled by the Spirit (2 Tim. 2:1). So then, we are to keep nourishing ourselves, abiding in Christ, connecting to divine resources. These are primarily the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures, His divine graces, prayer, and the community of significant relationships. Our role is to equip ourselves with these spiritual weapons and spiritual resources so that we can effectively connect people to them.
Co-laborers with God
Again, our role is primarily to be co-laborers with God in what he is doing in people’s lives. This involves bathing our ministry in intercession, listening to and discerning where God is working, and continually pointing people to Christ, the divine teacher. It also involves encouraging them to connect to his divine resources, helping facilitate their discovery of biblical truth, and encouraging them in their response to surrender to God’s working in their lives. We are partners with Him in this process.
People do not primarily need us as their heavyweight in making change. They need God and His divine resources. It is God’s role to create need, conviction, thirst, and motivation, give people understanding of the Scriptures, and then to make the ultimate change in people’s lives. We are to allow God to give them His understanding and to make inside changes in their life. We then need to get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit accomplish His work of transformation.
Words which best depict our role as we partner with God are: listener, discerner, pointer, servant, encourager, facilitator, and connector in His transforming process.
Mentoring is an educational method involving both the process of interactive learning for discovery and a significant incarnational relationship with the teacher. In this case, the teacher is the living Son, Jesus and to a lesser degree, you and me.