Walk this way, or Model this . . .
Acts, #65. Acts 18.23-28
Many a basketball coach has learned from UCLA icon, John Wooden, who had a winning record, both on and off the court. To play under "Coach" was to be mentored by him. It would surprise you to know what he taught first--he taught his young players to properly put on their shoes and socks. Beginning with the socks, pulling them first over the toes and slowly, snugly pulling them over the heel and the rest of the foot, making sure there were no creases. Then the shoe, properly tying them--the same tension on each foot. . . Why? Because it ensured the player would not get any blisters or calluses which could interfere with his ability to run up and down the basketball court many times. His strategy then? Start with the basics and then move to the fundamentals of the game. Teaching, coaching, modeling, mentoring … Coach John Wooden.
As the lights go down on Paul’s second missionary journey, we have a segue from Paul to Apollos, a Jew who loved God and travelled to Ephesus to use his stellar knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures to talk about Jesus. Here’s the short passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+18.23-28&version=NLT
If you took a couple minutes to read the Acts 18 verses you surely noticed that there was a glitch in Apollos’ teaching. . . it stopped short. . . he did not have the full story. As God would have it, Priscilla and Aquila were present in the synagogue as Apollos taught and they invited him to their home to tell him the 'rest of the story' after John the Baptist. Jesus lived, died and rose again, then when he had ascended into Heaven, sent the Holy Spirit (on the day of Pentecost, recorded in Acts 2) to fill the hearts and minds of believers.
Notice how Priscilla and Aquila recognized Apollos needed additional training. They were willing to meet his need and took Apollos to their home to teach and mentor him. They did not speak out and correct him before the congregation, nor did they criticize him and talk behind his back; they took him under their wing and lovingly taught him what they had experienced about the Holy Spirit and new life through the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Apollos in turn had a teachable heart. Apollos recognized that Priscilla and Aquila had the TRUTH and he received the message they gave him. (O that you and I will recognize TRUTH when we see it and desire to grow in it!)
The reality is this: if we desire to grow in a particular aspect of life, we do well to talk to someone who has done well. Naturally, there are two sides to mentoring--the mentor/teacher and the mentee/learner. I have experienced both roles for the purpose of spiritual growth. For years, successful business practice has recognized the value of learning from seasoned professionals within the same disciplines. After all, do we have to learn everything through personal trial and error, or might we learn from others' experiences? The writer of Ecclesiastes said, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; There is nothing new under the sun."1
While the arrival of Apollos could have set Paul’s teeth on edge, Paul recognized Apollos’ desire to point others to the same Jesus he loved and served--there was plenty of room on the playing field (showing the humility of Paul!). He later wrote to the Christians at Corinth, I planted the seed and Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.”2
The great news about seeking a mentor today is that, because of technology, remote mentoring is possible, tremendously widening our opportunities--!earning from someone--about his life, or her teaching and practices, without ever being in their presence. Learning keeps us vital and should be a lifelong thing - especially when it comes to living this life to the full, as Jesus promised.3
Lord, make us hungry for knowledge and humble enough to receive from other people you put in our path. Amen.
Check out this song: When You Speak, Jeremy Camp: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8P6PnCaSnRk
Let’s stay vital!
1 - Ecclesiastes 1.9 2 - 1 Corinthians 3.6
3 - John 10.10 - I came that you might have the abundant life! Jesus.