“We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share WITH you not only the gospel of God but our very lives, because you had become dear to us.” I Thess. 2:8
“And the things thou hast heard of me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, such as shall be competent to instruct others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2
I met Bruce his senior year in college. Introduced by his buddy J.D. who had just started at Southeastern, I saw in him a great earnestness for God. Getting to know him better the next year in my evangelism class only confirmed that initial observation.
Bruce continued on and we continued to stay close. We shared a passion for the younger generation and both were heavily involved in itinerant ministry. I helped him with a retreat or two early on in our relationship. He went overseas to serve as a missionary for a couple of years before returning to our school to earn a PhD in theology.
Our relationship continued to grow. Our administration wisely hired him to be on our faculty, and now Dr. Bruce Ashford serves as dean of our college. We developed a relationship with me serving as his superior and at some level a mentor. He now serves as my boss as I teach some courses in the college.
We are currently working toward writing a book together. In a recent visit he dreamed out loud about the possibilities of our teaching together for another 20- 25 years.
It is great to do life together. I so enjoy doing this with men like Bruce. Oh, I should add that I played at least a supporting role in their getting together. I got Lauren a job working in our Center for Great Commission Studies when Bruce directed that. When I told him of that, he said, “I am taken with her.”
I smiled. I thought they would make a great pair. But I did not do this to “arrange” anything. I believe in the Holy Spirit. But when you do life with people, and I knew Lauren well as she and Hannah had become very close, you see things some people, especially younger people, do not see as quickly.
Bruce and Lauren are wonderful parents (they just had their second little girl!) and a fantastic role model to our students. Bruce now mentors young leaders as Lauren mentors young ladies. The cycle continues, and the Kingdom grows. I watched Bruce grow from a college student to a college dean. I watched Lauren grow from a college grad to a wife and mother. Life is an amazing thing when you live it with others.
Who are you doing life with? I do not mean every moment of every day, although I know people who do that, either formally as foster parents or informally simply by having an open door policy to their home. I am a little protective of my family time because as much as I love to mentor others, I love being a husband and dad more. Still, I have much time to share life with others, and my family is a big part of that.
There are ways you can do life with others in simple ways.
– Doing things you would ordinarily do anyway, just with them. Running errands. Going to the coffee shop. Cleaning your office. Doing yard work (hint: I pay guys for physical labor they do). Adjust your lifestyle to include people, not your calendar.
– Planning times to hang out that fit your lifestyle. I eat out with my family a good bit, but often we also invite others to join us.
– Let them experience your hobbies/free time. Let them see and experience all areas of your life and how to keep life in balance.
– Allow them to see how a godly man or woman interacts with and leads their family—this is particularly vital for single adults.
– Have them join you in a commitment to change. For instance, I have recently lost 35 pounds in a serious change of life commitment to exercise and diet. This fall I am leading a workout group that allows me to continue to progress, to encourage others, and to do it with people I want to help grow in Christ. One of the byproducts of this type of mentoring helps people you mentor realize life does not consist of a stream of big, recognizable events for God, but the consistent, daily walk of faith. Please do not only take those you mentor to “cool” events or opportunities that will “wow” them. I regularly tell young students who have the “speaking at the youth rally equals being a man of God” mindset to get a lunch pail and spend some time thinking of ministry as daily, faithfully doing what must be done for the glory of God.
Paul gives us a glimpse of this kind of consistent, lifestyle mentoring as he taught young Timothy.
Paul told Timothy to be like a soldier (2 Tim 2:3–4). A soldier understands the importance of serving others, both his commander and his country. Soldiers do life together exclusively during times of war. Soldiers understand authority and service.
In Jim Collins’ book Good to Great he studied companies that featured a dramatic and sustained turn around. He found principles consistent with Scripture. For instance, he described what he called a Level Five leader as the most effective. What are the primary traits of a L5 leader? One trait is an unwavering commitment to the company, an unshakeable will. The other, which was surprising to his research team, was the remarkable modesty and humility of the leaders of great companies compared to those whose companies exhibited mediocrity, as these quotes demonstrate:
“In contrast to the very I-centric leaders of the comparison leaders, we were struck by how the good-to-great leaders didn’t talk about themselves. . . . When pressed to talk about themselves, they’d say things like, ‘I hope I’m not sounding like a big shot.’ . . . Those who worked or wrote about the good-to-great leaders continually used words like quiet, humble, modest, reserved, shy, gracious, mild-mannered, sef-effacing, understated, did not believe his own clippings; and so forth. . . . The good-to-great leaders never wanted to become larger-than-life heroes. They never aspired to be put on a pedestal or become unreachable icons. They were seemingly normal people quietly producing extraordinary results.”
Sounds like a pretty good description of the leadership style of Moses, or David, or Paul, or for that matter, our Lord Himself. In a day when CEO-driven, self-promoting pastoral models imply one must be a Type A, ADHD overly aggressive type who has mastered all the leadership principles of the gurus of our time, we need more men of God who walk and lead in humility, and who open their lives to others.
NOTE: The above was taken from my ebook WITH.