One time in a leadership meeting, Jay Ferris shared the following gutsy statement,
“Paul didn’t say to Timothy or Titus, “My true mentoree in the faith”, he said my “true son in the faith”. There’s a big difference between a father and a mentor, the source, for one thing. The man handling goes on!
Someone inquired what he meant by “man handling,” and Jay expounded:
“Foundational to my understanding of “man handling” is the truth that Jesus is Lord of everything, and that includes being the Lord of relationship. As such, He is “the stone that the builders rejected,” and continue to reject today, Luke 20:17. This means there are builders who are building something, and it is a “man handled” building at that. They don’t want the building that Jesus is building. They want a different building – one where they are the architects, the contractors, and the inspectors. These “man handlers” do not want Jesus to be Lord of relationship, because that would be bad for their business.
If Jesus is allowed to be Lord of relationship, the relationships that He does are likely to violate the relationships that we do, such as our institutions, our “churches,” our para-churches, our corporations, our ministries, and on and on. God is after a new creation, even though the old one was no accident. It has much to teach us about structure, authority, and how God does life. We see, for example, “… children born, not in the ordinary way, the old creation way, not of natural descent, nor of human decision nor husband’s will, but the new creation way, children born of God,” Jhn.1:13
Learning from history
We see then that God does life by reproduction. Only in the new creation, it’s not man’s idea any longer, it’s God’s idea. It’s His doing. The problem is that religious “man handling” makes it very difficult to see what God is doing. That’s why He has promised to shake everything, so that what He has done, which is to say, what does not shake, may remain and be seen, Heb.12:26.
As an example, let me cite the “Shepherding movement.” In the beginning it began with a bonding of 5 men. Their closeness was witnessed by many. Over the years however, the message changed from what God had done, to what you ought to do. The abuse is, by now, legendary. In fact I believe that the relational integrity of the Body of Christ is now worse than it was before they had that revelation. Now we have the Prophetic and Apostolic restoration movement, and I believe that it is operating in such a way as to make the Shepherding movement seem like a boy scout picnic by comparison. The “man handling” of the present movement is much greater than anything I saw as a close observer of the Shepherding movement. In all of this, the question remains, “What is God doing?”
Learning from creation
The answer is that God creates with His Word, and nothing was created except by His word. So much the more in the New Creation. God never said, “Let there be mentors.” But He did write to “fathers,” 1 John 2. To know about fathers we don’t have to go to someone’s idea of mentoring school. All we need do is take a look at what God has created, to know about the invisible things of God. Not to learn about Him in this way is to be without excuse.
In the new creation, fathers and sons/daughters, mothers and daughters/sons, parents and children, are not our idea and not our choice, but His. What we need is to see what He is doing, and walk in it. To do that, our expectations need to be nailed to the tree where His were, on the day He showed us how much He loved us.
Learning from Jesus
Jesus only had the ones that the Father gave Him. Under ideal circumstances the number was limited to twelve in a three and a half year period. So who do we think we are? Yes, God is looking for many sons, but He is after the reality that is only found in Christ – not the show business that is found in our “man handling”, Isaiah 64:6.
There is too much ministry which sees people as something to do, rather than someone to love. Once you’ve seen people as someone to love, you will go even beyond discipleship, and begin to have Timothys or even Priscillas in your life, true sons and daughters who are yours from God and, who love others with their whole heart.
The price is very high, but, in my experience, it’s worth it.
At least the Shepherding movement was named after a word that God had used. Please God, deliver us from the Mentoring movement.
If this is still not clear, let me know, my life has been given to its elaboration.
Yours in Christ,