Prepare for Immortal Combat
Matthew 10:1-16; 24-25
Introduction: We hear a great deal of video games and TV shows talking about mortal combat, and this simply refers to a fight to the death. This is supposed to be the apex of all battles, but this morning I want to remind you that immortal combat is the truly the ultimate warfare. Jesus said, "Do not fear those who can kill the body, but fear him who can both body and soul into hell." The spiritual battle for your soul is of far greater importance than mortal combat, in which you can only lose your life. Last week I shared how that we need mentors if we are going to succeed in life, but this is doubly true for spiritual success. This is because there is a satanic kingdom that will war against you all the way to heaven in order to get you to turn back. About a year ago I heard that Deion Sanders, the sensational defensive back for the Dallas Cowboys, had gotten saved. Then I saw him do an interview with ESPN about a month ago, and I saw a big difference in him and I know someone had mentored or discipled him. I bought his autobiography, Power, Money, & Sex: How Success almost ruined my life, just to discover who had mentored Deion. In the book he refers to Bishop T.D. Jakes as my spiritual father, my daddy in Christ. Three chapters in the book are devoted to the things Bishop Jakes taught him about power, money, and sex. Deion says, "You may think it strange to include this in my autobiography, but this is why I wrote the book in the first place because these teachings changed my life forever. They set me on the road to meet my Lord, and that’s why I want to share them with you maybe they’ll change your life too." Deion has got a hold of Jesus’ method of making disciples. Jesus taught them so that they could teach others. Let’s look more closely at Jesus mentoring or discipling approach. I am using the words mentoring and discipling interchangeably.
"He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness ....Those twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: `The Kingdom of heaven in near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, free give..... I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves... A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master .... (Matthew 10:1, 5-8, 16, 24-25)
This brief passage gives us a glimpse of Jesus mentoring in action. I want to examine it more broadly at this time, and use this as the foundation. We can see the three dynamics of mentoring in Jesus relationship with his disciples.
I The Three Dynamics for Mentoring
The three dynamics for mentoring are attraction, responsiveness, and accountability.
a. Attraction- The first dynamic is attraction. For a mentoring relationship to be successful there must be an attraction that goes both ways. Unless there is an admiration or respect by the mentoree for the mentor there can be no influence. We can only influence people who look up to us in some way. Jesus chose his disciples and invited them to leave their jobs and follow him indefinitely. The fact they did as he asks them shows the tremendous attraction they had for Jesus. They could have left him at any time, but they followed him till the cross. Jesus also liked them and enjoyed being around them This is evident by the fact that he spent the next three-and-one-half years with them. He didn’t just see them in a class for an hour a day, but he ate, slept, and traveled with them twenty four hours a day. You cannot spend that much time with people unless there is some attraction. The second dynamic seen in Jesus’ ministry is responsiveness.
b. Responsveness- This simply means there is a willingness to be discipled or mentored. Unless the mentoree wants to be mentored all your efforts are in vain. Have you ever tried to teach your children something they didn’t want to learn? It isn’t very successful, is it? As Parents we have the advantage of control in their lives if they don’t want to listen, but if you are teaching someone who isn’t your child you don’t have that advantage. There has to be a desire to learn if the mentoring relationship is going to be successful. This ties into the first dynamic, in that, you not only have to have a desire to be taught, but also have a desire to be taught by the person trying to teach. The word disciple means to be a learner. As believers we must be life long learners, because that is what a disciple is to do. Jesus was successful because the men he chose had a great desire to be taught by him They were teachable, and they should be our models of a true discipleship. The third dynamic of mentoring that Jesus shows us is accountability.
c. Accountability- This is the dynamic that is most difficult for American Christian. We don’t mind giving
account for our actions to God, because he is not here right now in our face. We know at the judgement he will call us to account, but not right this minute. It is very difficult for us to give an account to other Christians, because they are right here right now. As Christians we expect the preacher or teacher to tell us what is right to do, but we don’t really want anyone really checking to see if we are actually doing it or not. However, if we do not have some accountability people will not incorporate truth into their lives. You who are in school answer this question for me. If the teacher gives you an assignment and tells you they expect you to complete, but then tells you it won’t be collected. Will you do it? Many would not complete it because no one will check to see if it is done or not. Jesus asked his disciples to pray with him in the garden of Gethsemane, because his heart was greatly troubled. Then he went a stone’s throw away to pray alone, but he came back three times to check on the disciples. He was checking to see if they were doing what he had asked them to do. Dr. Terry Wise says, "People will do what we inspect not what we expect. " When I tell my girls to clean their room I have to tell them I am going to check and see if they have done it at a certain time, or they will not get around to doing it. In the next message in this series I will examine this dynamic is greater detail. This brings us to the second point which shows us how Jesus actually went about mentoring his disciples.
II Jesus shows us how to Mentor Others
a. He believed in them- The first thing that made Jesus an effective mentor is he believed in the disciples. He chose the twelve out of many thousands of others he could have chosen, and he had confidence in their success. He believed in them to the point that he was willing to leave the success of the church in their hands when he returned to heaven. One specific example of his believing in them is in the life of Peter when he called him the rock, although at that time he was more like mush. One of the greatest spokesmen for the cause of Christ today is Church Swindoll, host of the national radio broadcast "Insight for Living," for many years a pastor and now president of Dallas Theological Seminary. Howard Hendricks, who was one of Chuck’s teachers while he was in seminary, remembers him as a real go-getter in school. Howard said, "I felt this guy was a winner from the moment I met him. He always set in the front row. His questions were extraordinarily perceptive, and even after class the questions did not stop. It was abundantly clear that this man had a bright future ahead of him" However, Chuck says that he struggled with self-doubt for years and at times even thought of quitting the ministry. One factor that helped him to hang in there was his relationship with his mentor Howard Hendricks. As Chuck puts, "Hendricks believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself." Jesus also believed in his disciples even when they didn’t believe in themselves. The second thing that Jesus did was to impart knowledge to them.
b. He imparted knowledge to them Jesus taught them what they didn’t know about spiritual things. The sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7 is an example of his teaching. He began by teaching them simple things, and later he taught them increasing difficult truths. Jesus was the master at knowing what to teach, and when his disciples were able to receive it. To often we get impatient and give new converts too much to quickly and overwhelm them. In John 16:12, as he was about to go to the cross, Jesus told his disciples that he had much more to tell them but they weren’t ready to receive it yet. He went on to say that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth as they were ready to receive it. Baseball teams pay athletes millions of dollars to play ball for them. Do they then just turn them loose and say, "Just go do it anyway you want." NO! They are to come under, the instruction of the hitting coach or pitching coach. These coachs are former players who have knowledge to give to the players. The San Diego Padres, whose pitching staff took them to the World Series this year, give much of the credit to the pitching coach Dave Stewart. You see, he had been to the World Series before and won, and so he could impart his knowledge to his young pitchers who had
not been there before. The third thing Jesus did was share kingdom values.
C. He shared Kingdom Values- The values of the kingdom are the opposites of the world’s value system, and so Jesus had to give his disciples a new value system. Some examples of kingdom values he taught them are found in Matthew 5-7.
-Humbling yourself / instead of / exalting yourself (Matthew 23:12)
-Treasures in heaven/ instead of/ Laying up treasures on earth (Matt. 6:19-21)
-The Praise of God / instead of / the praise of men (Matt. 6:5-8)
-People speaking the truth / instead of / Having to give oaths (Matt. 5:33ft)
-Loving your enemies / instead of / hating your enemies (Matt. 5:43)
-Forgiving / instead of / Getting revenge (Matt. 6:12; 14:15)
d He modeled what he taught them - In Luke 18:1 Jesus told them to always pray and not give up, and in Mark 1:35-37 when they woke up and didn’t see him they started a search party. They found him in prayer to the father, and that was his habit they later discovered. You see, Jesus not only told them to pray, but he prayed himself Parents often tell their children, "Do as I say, not as I do." This is very foolish, because more is caught than taught. If we don’t model what we teach as Jesus did then we can’t expect our kids to take our teaching seriously. He also taught them to serve one another, and then he showed them how by washing their feet (John 13). My great-grandmother Amanda Tackett has been dead for nearly forty years, but the stories about her still impact her family today. It is because she modeled what she taught. She was very poor, and would look forward to coming to church just to get warm in the winter. She couldn’t afford to buy much coal for heating her house so she would pick up coal along the railroad tracks that had fallen off the train. One day a hobo, riding the coal car, saw what she was doing and started shoving coal off the car for her. She refused to take it, because she felt it was stealing. This is how she impacted her descendants.
e. He provided an environment of encouragement and motivation. This was something Jesus did constantly, but two specific examples are found in John 14:26-27 and 16:33. He said, "My peace I leave with you ... Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not beafraid." He also praised them when they did the right things. Everyone needs recognition for his accomplishments, but few make the need known quite as clearly as the little boy who said to his father: "Let’s play darts. I’ll throw and you say `Wonderful!" During quail season in Georgia, an Atlanta journalist met an old farmer hunting with an ancient pointer at his side. Twice the dog ran rheumatically ahead and pointed. Twice his master fired into the open air. When the journalist saw no birds rise, he asked the farmer for an explanation. "Shucks," grinned the old man, "I knew there weren’t no birds in that grass. Spots’ nose ain’t what it used to be, but him and me have had some wonderful times together. He’s still doing the best he can--and it’d be mighty mean of me to call him a liar at this stage of the game!"
f. He stretched their faith- In Mark 4: 35-41 we have the account of Jesus asleep in the bottom of the boat while a storm was whipping the boat about. The disciples woke him up because they were terrified, and he got up and spoke to the wind and waves and they became calm. The disciples were amazed at his authority over nature. Later in John 6:16-21 Jesus sent them out in a boat without him knowing that a storm would overtake them. Then after they had struggled for several hours Jesus came walking on the water. He was building their faith by being with them in the boat the first time, and by being absent the second time. As a mentor we have to help our mentoree with a problem the first time, and give them little or no help the second time unless they get stuck. As a coon hunter training a young tree dog you almost run to him the first time he trees a coon by himself. However, if you keep running to him, he will stay immature. Therefore, the wise hunter will wait longer and longer each time he trees before going to him. This will teach him to trust the owner to come no matter how long he has to wait. Some dogs will stay treed for days, because they know sooner or later their master will come. God sometimes waits to stretch our faith in the same way.
g. He allowed them to fail- There some lessons we can only learn by failure. Jesus allowed his disciples to fail in Mark 9 when they couldn’t heal the demonized boy. Later inside the house Jesus told them why they had failed. He told them that they lacked faith, because they had failed to fast and pray. They could not have learned that lesson without failure. If we don’t learn how to fail successfully we will not get very far in life.
h. He trained them for ministry - John Maxwell gives a very good model for training others for
ministry he discovered in Jesus ministry.
• I Model - I do it
• I Mentor - I do it and you watch me
• I Monitor - You do it and I watch you
• I Motivate - You do it
• We Multiply - You do it and train someone else
Jesus began his ministry by doing all the ministry by himself, and later he had his disciples to watch him doing it. When he knew they were ready he sent them out two by two to do what they saw him doing (Luke 10, Matthew 10). They would come back and report to him, and he would instruct them further. In the book of Acts the disciples were doing Jesus’ ministry, and he was motivating them by his presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. The record of the ministry of Philip and Stephen in the book of Acts is an example of the disciples multiplying the ministry of Jesus.
III The Proper way to Balance Mentoring
Like everything, mentoring needs balance if it is going to be effective. The balance can be seen in the life of the apostle Pad He had a mentor in Barnabas over him to train and encourage him. He had a mentoree in Timothy under him to guide as a disciple. Then he also had a peer mentoring relationship with Epaphraditus.We need a mentor who can tell us about things we haven’t gone through yet, and we need a mentoree to share the things we have gone through with to him them. Then we need a mentor as a peer we can discuss the things we are facing at the same time, and gain support from them. To retain the proper balance we need all three of these type of mentoring relationships. I have an older pastor, John Jividen, as one of my mentors to call when I am facing a difficulty. I have a younger pastor, who can call me when he needs advice. I also have a pastor friend who graduated from Bible College with me to share common ministry experiences. So I believe in what I am saying, and it has greatly enhanced my life.
Conclusion: In conclusion, I want to remind you of my premise. We cannot successfully win this spiritual battle for our souls alone. In immortal combat the dangers are too high to play the lone ranger. Jesus sent his disciples out two by two, and never by themselves to do the ministry of the kingdom Even soldiers do not war by themselves. The navy seals may not send out all their seals on a mission, but there is always a team. The team depends on each other for survival. The church needs to realize that God designed the church as an army, and he wants us to war side by side against the enemy. Write down who your Barnabas is. The person you admire and go to for advice. Write down who your Timothy is. The person you are helping spiritually who is not as far up the road as you are. And finally write down who your Epaphraditus is. The person who may be your equal spiritually, and there is a mutual giving of encouragement. If you don’t have these in your life ask God to show you, who they could be.