Parental mentoring, an effective way of witnessing – Part 1
“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates”, (Deut. 6:7-9)
In 1992, Dr. Esther Nzewi, a lecturer then at the Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri presented a paper to the Anglican Synod of the Diocese of Owerri titled: “Parenting”. In that lecture she lamented thus: “all living things know what to do with their young ones but parents of today don’t. As a result our children are trading in cultural confusion. Sometimes, they are hippies, Americana, British etc. to the effect that they are rootless neither here nor there”. This picture is very sad one indeed and even today parents have not buckled up to their responsibilities. They tend to focus more on money, carrier and other allied things to the detriment of the upbringing of their children in the Lord.
However, this write up is a wake-up call for parental mentoring as a way of witnessing for Christ. Remember, the children will sit where we are sitting today and eventually they will take over from us. So, we need to prepare them well both for now and for future to the glory of God. The Bible beckons upon us among others: “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it”, (Prov. 22; 6). Also, “you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates”, (Deut. 6:7-9). Again, “Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him”, (Ex. 2:9). This demands that we make out time to carry out this assignment diligently. Souls must be won and these souls when won are to be guided to the glory of God. Yes, we need parental mentoring now more than ever because many of our children according to Nzewi “are trading in cultural confusion” and if not properly guided or mentored they may become a source of sorrow to us later.
Mentoring has be defined severally. Gunter Krallmann gives this definition: ‘A mentor in the biblical sense establishes a close relationship with a protégé and on that basis through fellowship, modelling, advice, encouragement, correction, practical assistance and prayer support influences his/her understudy to gain a deeper comprehension of divine truth, lead a godlier life and render more effective service to God. While, J. Robert Clinton defines mentoring of potential leaders: ‘Mentoring refers to the process in which a person with a serving, giving, encouraging attitude (Mentor), sees the leadership potential in a still to be developed person and is able to prompt or otherwise significantly influence that person along to the realization of his/her potential. It is true that mentor or mentoring was not used explicitly in the Bible. However, it was implied. Note these Bible passages: Exodus 33: 9-11; 2 Kings 2; 9-12, 3:11; Mark 3: 13-l 9; Acts l6: 1-7; 2 Tim.2: 2; Titus 2:4-5.
Notice, the mentoring these persons gave and the effect it had on witnessing. Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law, Ex. 18. He gave a sound advice to Moses that helped him in the administration of the people of God. For Jethro, if Moses was to continue what he was doing by attending to the people all by himself, he would not only weary himself out but die. So, he needed assistants and that made him to appoint from tribe to tribe those who really assisted him. Moses succeeded later because he listened to advice from a person who acted like a mentor to him. Impliedly, when people accept pieces of advice given to them and put it into practice success will come their way.
It is interesting, when we read through Ruth 1-4, we would be struck on how Naomi was an incredible mentor to Ruth her daughter in-law. Laura Darling observed passionately “the thing that stays with me about Naomi’s mentorship of Ruth is its mutuality and its maturity. It’s not so much leaning in as it is both of them leaning on each other. Naomi’s deep caring for Ruth is equaled by her savvy. Her mentorship is not a soft pat on the head, but strong-minded analysis on how to help Ruth succeed. Ruth, meanwhile, does not sit passively by, waiting for Naomi to call the shots. Instead, she takes steps, refined by Naomi’s insights. And in so doing, they both help each other.
And who knows what blessing that might bring to the world?” And God did bring a blessing indeed. Look at the chain: Ruth, Obed, Jesse, David and from there Jesus had His root. To be continued
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State. www.ibrucentre.org