I’ve Got Your Back (Part II)



But Jonathan had taken a great liking to David  and warned him, “My father Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding and stay there. 1 Samuel 19:1-3 

This is the second post on this topic.  In the first post, I discussed the story of Jonathan and David which is taken from 1 Samuel 18-20.  It is a wonderful example of peer mentoring – having a deep intentional relationship with another colleague or friend.  Some 30 years ago, a close friend of mine, Floyd Green,  suggested that he wanted to have a personal “board of directors” where you submit to one another and be the Proverbs 27:17 “iron sharpener” in each other’s life.  I had never thought of the concept, but I liked it immediately.     From that conversation grew a small group of men that changed from time to time, but over the next 24 years, three of us continued to meet weekly.   We still do, as time and logistics permit.

In our culture in the U.S., and in the two African countries I’ve visited, very few pastors have any kind of mentor, either an older person or even a peer.  They are isolated in many ways because it is often difficult to find someone around them with whom they can be transparent and share their struggles.  I love the quote:  “A mind alone is a bad neighborhood.”  That quote applies to everyone, even pastors and leaders.  While we need direction from God, we also need each other.  David needed Jonathan.  Without Jonathan, Saul could have easily killed David, and the course of history and Christianity would have been changed.

Technology has changed the game in the past decade. Having a mentor (either someone older or a peer) can be done even if your mentor is not in your town, or even in your country.  You can use Skype or even Instant Messenger (IM) on Facebook.  I have been using Instant Messenger on Facebook with my friend, Benvictor Ojong, who lives in Limbe, Cameroon. It is a real-time “conversation” and it is free even though I am six-time zones away.  It even has a video feature so you can actually see one another while talking.

Last week in the first part, I covered the two “take-aways” or principles from the story of Jonathan and David:  1) Every David needs a Jonathan,  and 2) Jonathan’s loyalty to David was intentional.

Part II covers a couple more lessons to take away from the Jonathan – David relationship:

  1. Mentors take risks for their friends. Jonathan took risks for David– he was almost killed himself by his father, King Saul, and he risked his relationship with his father, and his reward for his actions was that he was disinherited from the throne by Saul.  As Jesus said in John 15:13, there is no greater love than one who is willing to lay down his life for a friend.  Jonathan was willing to do that, even if it involved risks to himself and his future.  In the same way, mentors can take risks with their friends by sometimes giving them the “tough stuff” – telling them that their life or conduct is in need of repair, or helping them figure out how to deal with an area of their life that is weak or holding them back.  Such advice can be invaluable.  Sometimes we mistakenly think that ministry to another only takes place in a church.  We forget that most of the life of Jesus as reported in the Gospels takes place outside a church or synagogue.  Being a mentor is really a ministry to your friends.
  1. Mentors dispense grace to their friends. A mentor invests in his friends without an expectation of receiving any benefit.  There is no quid pro quo involved.  David was in little position to reciprocate with Jonathan by doing similar things in return, although I can imagine that he would have done the same for Jonathan if the situation had been reversed.  That’s called grace – unmerited favor, which really is not earned. David did nothing to deserve Jonathan’s favor or his loyalty.  It’s a picture of what God does for us – grace is unmerited favor.  We don’t get what we justly deserve.  That’s what a mentor does – a mentor invests in another’s life with no expectation of personal gain or advancement, other than to help his mentee  be the best that he or she can be.

Do you have a Jonathan or a David in your life?  If you are a leader – a David as it were – or if you are a pastor, you need to find the Jonathan’s of the world.   You need someone who will “protect your back”against blind spots or help you through personal issues that may be sensitive if you divulge them to the wrong people  If you don’t have one, who has your back?  Take time to pray about finding a Jonathan or a David in which to invest in each other’s lives. It may be the best investment you ever made.

Bill Mann



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