Note: As mentioned in this week's Activation, we will be using the icons for each genre to identify posts from now on, so the name of each series will appear in the Title rather than the Genre type. Thus, Next week's Service will be entitled M&A #6.
When Things Go Wrong (Part 1)
We've presented a fairly positive approach to the Mentor/Apprentice relationship so far. However, there is another side that we need to look at if we are to maintain a successful approach in the Mentor/Apprentice relationship. What happens when their is a disconnect or a breakdown in the this relationship? Who, if any one, is to blame? What can be done to salvage or prevent it? Find out below:
A Transition Too Good To Be True
Saul was the perfect specimen to lead Israel. He was tall and strong and would be proven effective in battle. However, there were a lot of issues from the outset that foreshadowed his failure. He was afraid of what people thought of him (1 Sam 9:5). He didn't believe in himself (9:21). He hid from his calling (10:20-22). This all occurred before even became king.
Eventually, these issues metastasized and led to egregious errors in Saul's life. He would act out of order, lie and blatantly disobey the commands of God and leading of Samuel. These errors would negatively affect Israel for years, and it would take one of the greatest men to ever live to help pull it out of despair.
So who was to blame? Most lay Saul's failings at his own feet, but could Samuel bear some of the blame for Saul's consistent mistakes? Remember Samuel had made mistakes raising his sons before he trained Saul (1 Samuel 8:1-3). Could Saul have simply fallen into that category of being poorly managed by Samuel?
The evidence presented exonerates Samuel. Samuel recognized Saul's shortcomings from the outset. This is why he consistently tried to give direct orders for what Saul should do while he was away from him. He did this while challenging Saul to break out of his comfort zones, of which Saul would do successfully at times. All of this shows Samuel was involved and protective of Saul. He didn't try to smother Saul, but he didn't abandon him to learn on his own, either. It is Saul's unwillingness to develop his character and obey either God or Samuel that leads to his failure.
Work To Reduce Disconnect
This shows us something important. You can be a good mentor and still not see your apprentice succeed. Samuel learned from his mistakes with his sons and tried his best to be specific and deliberate with Saul. Had Saul simply listened and been obedient, he would have been the one with the lineage of David. Instead, his lineage was almost completely wiped out in one hour on the battlefield (1 Samuel 31:1-6).
We must be sure as mentors to learn from mistakes of our past attempts. We have to be specific with our apprentices and follow up with them as needed. In the end, though, we have to trust that they will follow through on what we teach them and make the wise and God-centered decision.
As apprentices, we must be willing to admit we aren't perfect. We have to listen carefully to the instructions of our mentors and be open to whatever scrutiny or follow up is given. In the end, it is on us to make the right decision. That decision could mean the difference between advancing in the Kingdom and being an afterthought. It's up to us to choose wisely.
Next week, we examine another breakdown in the mentor/apprentice relationship. This time, though, their is a different outcome.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.