LESSON 7 17/1/2016
PAUL: THE MENTOR AND STRATEGIST
Suggested Hymns: G.H.B. 257, 259
Devotional Reading: Acts 9:11-16
Topic for Adults: Guide by Your Experience
Topic for Youths: Plan for Success
Topic for Intermediates: Listen to Counsel
Scripture Lesson: Acts 16:1-5; 2 Tim. 1: 11-14; Acts 13: 1-3; 16: 6-12.
Memory Verse: Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 Cor 11:1) NKJV
DAILY DEVOTIONAL READING
Wisdom for Effective Strategies
Whether you are a mentor or a mentee, you need wisdom. The Bible declares that “wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting, get understanding” (Prov. 4:7). Wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge to solve human and societal problems. Your ability to provide solutions to problems portrays you as a wise man or woman. As a mentor, you need to tackle the challenges brought before you by your mentees with wisdom and seek to guide towards workable solutions. As a mentee, you need to design strategies that will enable you to translate your abstract vision or purpose to concrete reality by achieving your goals. You both need the wisdom of God. God is the fountain of true wisdom. His wisdom is made available to mankind through His Word (Bible) and the Holy Spirit, the great Counselor. Step by step planning of our activities ought to be governed by the wisdom of God. He alone can properly guide you to achieve your goals. In Jn. 15:5. Jesus emphasises that without Him, we can do nothing. Depend on Him for wisdom to come up with effective strategies to achieve your life’s purpose.
Point of Emphasis: You need wisdom to finish well and strong.
Prayer Point: Lord, give me wisdom for solutions to every challenge I may encounter in my life’s journey.
Paul was an important character in the Bible. He was “a Jew, from Tarsus of Cicilia, a citizen of no mean City” (Act 21:39). He trained under Gamaliel and was learned in the Jewish law. Though a Jew, he acquired Roman citizenship at birth (Act 22:26). Paul had a burning zeal for God and at conversion God gave him his life’s purpose, his mission and pursuit: “he is a chosen vessel unto me to bear my name before the Gentiles, and Kings, and the children of Israel”. This was made known to Ananias (Act 9:15). By divine revelation and declaration, Paul identified his purpose. He pursued it and at the end, he submitted: “I have fought a good fight I have finished my course. I have kept the faith” (2 Tim.4:7). It was for him a case of mission accomplished. But our concern mainly is his strategies for purpose accomplishment.
NOTES ON THE TEXT
PART 1: PAUL – THE MENTOR (ACT 16:1-5)
A mentor is an experienced person who advises and helps somebody with less experience for a period of time. For our purpose, we shall refer to the one being mentored as a mentee. Paul picked Timothy, a young Christian to train, mentor and assist him to grow and succeed in ministry. He understood the background of Timothy and recognised the grace of God upon him. He chose to mentor this young minister. It is only mentors that have clear visions themselves that can recognise suitable mentees for mentoring. Jesus Christ is one. He chose his first twelve disciples to be with Him, to train and mentor them, sent them out to preach and he left the task of evangelism in their hands as he ascended to Heaven (Jn. 15:16; Lk. 11:1-4). Paul perhaps understood the principle of mentoring from Jesus’ model when he chose Timothy and adopted him for mentoring. He saw Jesus as his own pattern, his mentor and instructor in spiritual development and in ministry.
Paul himself did place himself under some mentoring in ministry, too. He did not place himself at a distance from the Apostles in Jerusalem. He submitted to the gospel he preached to the Gentiles before the Apostles, the elders and members of the Jerusalem Church. This is clearly expressed in Gal.2: 1-3. You need to place yourself under a godly mentor for consistent guidance in ministry, marriage, business, career, finances, relationships, etc. This will save you the risk of learning by trial and error which can be very burdensome and time wasting.
In contemporary world, it is advisable you choose your own mentors prayerfully. The sphere of life in which you need mentoring should determine the mentor you chose. God will not likely place you in the hands of those who may mislead you. As for mentors, those you mentor are likely to run with your vision and succeed you, or assist you to accomplish your mission in addition to theirs. It is, therefore, urged that you avail others of your experience, resources and encouragement.
PART 2: PAUL: THE STRATEGIST (2 TIM. 1:11-14)
Once Paul had recognised his God assigned purpose and destiny in life, he set out with effective, result-driven strategies. Strategy refers to step by step plans designed to achieve set goals. We may not find a template of Paul’s strategies in one letter, but his strategies are decipherable in the Acts of Apostles and in his letters to the churches he established and individuals he discipled for Christ. Some of his strategies in ensuring fulfilment of his mission are:
(a) strategic partnerships (Acts 13:2-3)
(b) strategic choice of mentees (Col 4:7-15)
(c) strategic friendships (Acts 18:1-3,26)
(d) strategic references (Acts 15:1-4, Gal 2:2-5)
(e) strategic escape from dangers (Acts 9:23-25)
(f) strategic appointments (Titus 1:4-5)
(g) strategic start (Acts 9:20-28)
(h) thirteen strategic letters
(i) strategic defenses (Acts 16:35-40)
(j) strategic message (1 Cor. 1:17-18, Acts 16: 30-33)
Paul’s missionary journeys show that he partnered with Barnabas, John Mark and Silas for successful missionary trips. This partnership is part of the overall strategies to get the gospel to the Gentiles and to the Jews (See Acts 9: 27-28; 13:2-3; Acts 15:39-40). You must partner with others for success. Paul chose Timothy and Titus and mentored them, taught them how to conduct themselves in the work of the ministry. The training he gave them enabled them to carry on with the work when he was in prison. Give training to those whose assistance you desire in your pursuits. It will help your work and ministry. All the strategic steps of Paul were directed at achieving his overall purpose in life. He succeeded. Your purpose or goal will determine your strategy. You are responsible for your strategy but God is willing to help you as he helped Paul.
PART 3: PAUL’S RELIANCE ON THE HOLY SPIRIT (ACT 13:1-3; 16:6-12)
It is now clear that Paul’s life purpose or destiny was divinely assigned. He got his life mission from God and his strategies were Holy Spirit inspired and directed. Dr. Bruce Wilkinson once said that God gives the vision, sets the goal for his people, but leaves the people to design the strategies. And because the people are not usually given the strategies, they are afraid. However, God always allays His people’s fears by promising help to them. This is true about Paul’s mission and strategies even though he was not afraid to proceed and advance.
For the place to go to preach, Paul listened to and followed the directives of the Holy Spirit. He wanted to go to Bithynia but the Holy Spirit did not permit him. They were directed to Macedonia instead.
Paul always solicited for prayers from other believers in churches he had established. He realised the God factor in his ministry and he relied on the Holy Spirit. We can reasonably deduce that his strategic steps and approaches were inspired and informed by the Holy Spirit, the fountain of wisdom. You, too, will succeed when you depend on the Holy Spirit.
Mentoring is a vital tool in achieving purpose both for the mentor and the person being mentored. In any walk of life, be it ministry, career, relationship, marriage or business, mentoring is indispensable and helpful. Paul was mentored, he allowed himself to be guided. He mentored others, particularly Timothy and Titus. His strategies for mission fulfilment were very effective. You, too, will succeed in any sphere of life if you submit to godly mentoring. You will be helping humanity if you will avail others of your experience, resources and encouragement either voluntarily or when solicited. Let your strategies or steps in pursuit of your goals be Holy Spirit inspired and impacted. This will lead you inevitably to success and fulfilment in life.
- What was Paul’s life purpose or mission?
- Mention five partners of Paul in his ministry.
- List two persons mentored by Paul in his ministry.
- Explain the relevance of Paul’s strategic appointments.
- List five strategic letters written by Paul in the course of his ministry.