The Good and the Bad: Lessons from Both Sides

There are two basic kinds of mentors in the Bible.

Most of them, like Abraham, Daniel, and James, are godly mentors. They teach us how to live wisely, how to please the heart of Almighty God. But the Bible also features many mentors who, through their examples of foolish or even evil living, teach us how not to live. God includes the stories of Cain, Esau, Ahab, Jezebel, Herod, and Judas, allowing their shrill voices to live on so that we do not make the same destructive choices they made. They provide potent illustrations that will speak to us from the downside of poor decisions.

Solomon reminds us of this: I passed by the field of the sluggard And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; Its surface was covered with nettles, And its stone wall was broken down. When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction.

– Proverbs 24

A few years ago a young man left Hawaii for a short time to enter a popular mission’s school of biblical studies.

When he returned I asked him, ‘‘How were your classes?’’

Mentoring Leaders - How Badly, How soon-He replied, ‘‘Some were dynamite! But some were a total waste.’’

‘‘What do you mean?’’

‘‘Some of the instructors were good, but the rest were awfully bad. So I didn’t learn much from them.’’

‘‘No!’ ’I challenged. ‘‘Don’t do that! You can learn as much from the bad as the good.’’

‘‘You don’t understand,’’he said, explaining his plight. ‘‘Some were so tedious, we were bored stiff within three minutes.’’

‘‘That’s fantastic!’’

‘‘What?’’

‘‘You can learn valuable lessons from them,’’ I said. ‘‘Take notes on that. Let them read like this: ‘Our morning teacher is able to bore us to sleep in only three minutes. This has rarely been accomplished! This must be a miracle.’’

I continued. ‘‘Analyze what he did: What made it so boring? Was it his monotone voice? Lack of research? Tired passion? If you can figure out how to learn from the bad as well as from the good, you’ll learn twice as much in life.’’

That’s why God put into the Bible raw, unedited accounts of men and women behaving both wisely and foolishly. He handpicked these people to mentor us, the good and the bad together.

Remember what Paul said? “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.’’

– Romans 15

Lessons come from every angle. So get ready! The best gems will come from those ignoble characters who have left them behind . . . unclaimed. If you will go there, those treasures will belong to you! Do you want your inheritance?

Talking about our standing in Christ, as heirs of God’s promise to Abraham, Paul wrote: ‘‘As long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father.’’

– Galatians 4

Your inheritance is what God has in store for you, that latent treasure, that potentiality, those possibilities for your life. He keeps most of it under the guardianship of caretakers until you come of age. It’s almost as if the biblical mentors are caretakers who steward your inheritance until you come of age. So they will teach you, advise you, tutor you—mentor you—until you receive the fullness of what God intends for you.

You have a divine inheritance waiting. This is held in abeyance, in trust, Divine Mentoruntil you come to a point of maturity. So here’s the real question: How badly and how soon do you want your inheritance?

This post is an adapted from Pastor Wayne Cordeiro’s book, The Divine Mentor. You can find it, and a host of other resources, here

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