I recently shared how ministry started for me as a 17 year old boy under the tutelage of Rev George Adegboye. Today, I begin to share with young ministers the building blocks of the solid foundation God gave me for ministry. Perhaps the most crucial as I look back is MENTORSHIP.
My mind was impressionable at 17 and while this is true for most teenagers, it is also the same for most spiritual adolescents. It matters who a young minister follows from the beginning.
Coming under Rev George’s influence was not immediately my choice. My uncle had taken me to a few meetings of the Holy Ghost caucus brethren. It was there that I met JK Saliu, a friend of his who later influenced me to join the fellowship after seeing me at a crusade in April 1985. However, when Rev George would part ways with them to start Rhema Chapel, on God’s instruction, I followed. I was only 18 when I made the decision but it would become a very significant decision.
“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” I Corinthians 11:1 NKJV
Like children, spiritual children and adolescents also live and grow by imitation. This makes their spiritual mentors massive influences on their lives.
The mentor must therefore possess certain important qualities because of their pivotal role. This will include good Christian character that makes him safe to follow. If I had followed a man given to moral failures, financial recklessness and behavioral delinquencies, I would have been affected by the same. Mentors are huge influences.
Just weeks ago I informed my daughter about how I learned to hug from my mentor. Till I met him it was not part of our family life. My elder brother and I both started hugging one another, having learned to do it being hugged by our mentor and other brethren. This resulted in other family members joining us, including our parents. I said the above to illustrate the influence a mentor can have on a young minister. I have observed how young ministers can follow a morally lax leader and lose their own moral compasses. Follow a greedy one and become money motivated, follow a materialistic one and end up worshiping wealth and the like. Timothy was fortunate to follow a man of godly character in the Apostle Paul. Read the following verse from his letter to the Thessalonians.
“Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:” 1 Thessalonians 2:10 KJV
The above conduct was the reason why he was able to bodily admonish Timothy to be of exemplary character too.
“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 KJV
It would have been difficult for Paul to ask him to be of good conduct if he wasn’t of a good one himself. I feel privileged today that I did not follow a man of questionable character. All the years I was with him, though certainly not perfect like none of us is, his morality was not in question, neither did he accept moral lapses as acceptable behavior from us. We were disciplined when we went astray. Such foundation becomes a source of stability in the future. Leading a ministry and having no one in the spiritual structure above one can be very tempting. A man can easily become a law to himself on realizing that no one can punish his wrong doing. However, if he strays away at all, the image that he followed in the past, conditions his conscience to a place of not accepting wrong as right. He will therefore find his path back to the straight and narrow way. Over the years, while I cannot claim perfection in all points of temptation, I have been greatly helped by the foundational influence of mentorship.
I look back today and my heart aches at several promising ministry gifts that as young men refused mentorship and therefore seemingly lost their way because they lacked proper guidance.
It is however not enough to have character. Charisma is also important. The anointing a man serves is the anointing he will eventually carry. It is crucial that a mentor be a source of powerful impartation of grace that will build up the mentee and help him become an anointed vessel. One of the most important decisions I had to make as a young man was that of leaving a fellowship where a family member was the leader despite our close relationship and follow after a non-relative. Sentiments have led many to limitations not intended for them. Follow a man you want to become like in some respect because you will become like him. When the kings of Judah, Israel and Edom needed prophetic direction, the realization that Elisha served Elijah, was a guarantee he carried the same anointing.
“But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of the LORD by him?” So one of the servants of the king of Israel answered and said, “Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah.” And Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the LORD is with him.” So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.”
II Kings 3:11-12 NKJV