By Norm Paslay II
This is not a discourse on mentoring. I am attempting to share from my heart and life experience an incredible model of mentoring that proved to be very powerful. In fact, at the core of my thesis is the intent to honor my father, Norman R. Paslay I. His life and vision are the basis of this information, and he was the compelling example that impacted my life as well as the lives of several other young men who were navigating a call to ministry.
The year was 1974, and we were hosting a young evangelist named Marvin Walker. It was an amazing time in the Holy Ghost. On a Sunday morning during the altar call, my father left the sanctuary with an obvious purpose and went into the church office alone. He emerged nearly an hour later, and it was obvious to all that he had experienced a profound experience in the Spirit. Though red-eyed and somewhat disheveled, he spoke with clarity and certainty as he made an announcement that would define his ministry, set his legacy, and forever change our lives and the lives of others. He told us that he had received a new call from God that would dictate his ministry-he was called to bless and mentor young ministers. In the context of his tenure, this has amazing. He had accepted his call at the age of sixteen, and now, thirty-seven years later, he was accepting a new assignment from God. In those thirty-seven years, he had served four-teen years as a full-time evangelist and twenty-three years as a pastor. Now he was accepting a new challenge and direction that would prove to be a return to a fundamental biblical truth that was ahead of its time in 1974.
This was not merely an ethereal or theological position; it had its expression in a three-fold cord of practical application. The three words that embodied this call were loving, caring, and giving. The call was an act of the will in love, an act of the Spirit in care, and an act of the entire man in a willingness to give. It called for an emotional connection, time and follow-through, and practical acts of kindness and provision. While these are the basics of spiritual leadership, Dad’s life was one of generosity, security, and spirituality. It was from these wells of character that he would draw and bless younger men in quest of their calling. For those who aspire to true God-directed mentoring, there must be a conviction that it is more blessed to give than to receive. A true mentor must not view the next generation as a threat. Rather, they are the hope of tomorrow and a source of inspiration. Finally, there must be a calling and a sense of God-directed investment in others for His sake and the furtherance of the kingdom.
Such a calling to mentor will require understanding from one’s family. Herein my mother was incredible. She never felt cheated or cried foul when Dad would spend time and resources on others. She actually became a partner as she modeled spiritual motherhood and maternal care. I was truly blessed because the men in whom my dad invested form the core of my friend-ships today. The bond we share transcends family and human relationships. Truly our souls and hearts are knit together. Sharing my dad was never a hardship for me. I knew it was God’s will, and I have seen the return in blessing beyond words.
Dad was directed to the scriptural model of Jonathan and David from I Samuel 18-20. This incredible account reveals what can happen when one generation believes in and facilitates a younger generation, even if it means they will be skipped or replaced. This is truly against human nature, and yet it is of the Spirit-living with a kingdom-first perspective. David and Jonathan were united on a foundation of mutual respect. This is a fundamental value for God-directed mentoring.
What was best for God’s people and kingdom was bigger than their personal sense of gain or loss. It is true that those closest to this incredible bond did not understand and even mocked Jonathan to the point of actual attempts to destroy and terminate the relationship between Jonathan and David. Saul mocked Jonathan, insisting he realize that if David was in, then Jonathan was out. However, Jonathan was willing to give up the throne in order to see the plan of God fulfilled in David’s life. Jonathan was truly other-minded and believed in this young shepherd whom God had called, even to the point of sacrificing his own chance to be king.
This is the key to biblical mentoring. It operates without the complications of politics or the insecurity of titles, positions, and looking out for oneself. The blessing of such sacrifice was not confined to a season or even to a generation After Jonathan’s death his family was still blessed by his commitment to David. The incredible kindness of David to Mephibosheth is an amazing example of blessings that outlives one when he makes his life’s work truly about the kingdom. To Jonathan, the call to pre-serve and protect David was never optional. He was called by God to facilitate another’s calling over him-self. This is exactly what he did, and this is what the church must have in the twenty-first century. We must not live for ourselves, allowing fear of others taking our place to rob us of such a call.
In our day mentoring is the buzz-word of leadership. However, it is not confined to a classroom or a passing conversation. This is a call to pour oneself into others. It transcends the old school approach of making the next generation climb the ladder for themselves, suffering at each rung. A Jonathan model of mentoring sees one generation strategically andintentionally invests in the next, with no sense of being cheated or threatened. It is about giving them a head start and catapulting them toward their destiny.
The New Testament model of Barnabas and Saul is an awesome parallel to Jonathan and David. The willingness of Barnabas to believe in this terrifying new convert demonstrates at least six key components that we are called to emulate as we strive for biblical mentoring:
1 Barnabas had a generous spirit (Acts 4).
2 He took time to invest in Saul (Acts 9).
3 He rejoiced with others in their successes (Acts 11).
4 He took the initiative in reaching out to those under him (Acts 11).
5 He raised up others to the point that they surpassed him in power and importance (Acts 13).
6 He took a risk, believing in the unproven so that they had a chance to find their way (Acts 15).
Inspired by the compelling models of Norman Paslay I, Jonathan, and Barnabas, let us purpose to continue the powerful ministry of biblical mentoring. Let us take up the mantle of Jonathan and Barnabas to make sure that we are used in this incredible ministry. Facilitating the next generation is the greatest assignment of the current generation. May we overcome fear, insecurity, and selfishness in order to be the link between someone’s call and the realization of that call.
This article “Mentoring” written by Norm Paslay II is excerpted from Forward Magazine a July/August 2007 edition.