Max is a wonderful Christian who was serving his Lord at the highest levels when we first met. I noticed he walked with a limp. When he wanted to stand up and talk to me, he would always lean against a wall or hold my arm. Tactfully I said, "Max, what's the problem with your leg?" He replied, "Ralph, some years ago a disease attacked my leg and destroyed the ligaments around the ankle. The bones are fine, but all support for my ankle bones is gone. The ligaments don't give me any support. I used to love to run; now I can only limp."
In your cell group, is there a "Max" who limps because a "supporting ligament" has never been provided? Perhaps you are reading this sentence and thinking, I am like that. I limp along in my Christian life today because no one took the time to support me when I first became a believer. If so, you are learning why it is so important to be a ligament in your cell group.
There are two problems when ligaments do not function properly. The first is that a bone is not supported; the second is that the ligament itself is weak, diseased, and useless. I always use a special word for ligaments in this context. I call them mentors. A mentor is one who binds himself to answer for another—one who is responsible for another's default.
Mentoring Is Your First Ministry in a Cell Group
A newborn baby is totally consumed with his own needs. He cries when he is wet and when he is hungry. He offers no support to anyone in the family. This is one of the characteristics of being a child.
I recall when my first grandchild was born. Nathan kept his parents hopping to meet his needs. A couple of years later, baby Ruth entered the home. Immediately Nathan wanted to help her. We snapped a photo of him, not yet three, proudly holding her in his little lap and feeding her with a bottle.
It's interesting to see how quickly a child grows out of the first stage and into the second one. Parents may think, "This child is too young to feed the baby!" Nevertheless, the child needs to be trusted to do so. It is through such activities that further maturity will take place in his life.
Are you mature enough to hold a spiritual bottle and feed another member of your cell group? Of course you are! And the act of doing so is vital for two reasons:
- Mentoring is vital to your own growth. Someone has said, "You will be the same person you are now five years from today, except for the people you meet and the books you read." Of the two alternatives, meeting new people will have the more profound effect on your life. Attaching yourself to a protégé will sensitize you to the Lord's voice. Through the experiences of meeting together, you will see things within your own life that will cause significant changes in you. Exploring together with your protégé will cause you to grow significantly.
- Mentoring is vital to cell life. Unless all the ligaments function together, your cell group will become dry bones. It will become inflexible in outlook or habits, and it will die. The very heart of a "Basic Christian Community," another term for a cell group, is for its members to become responsible to, and for, one another. That important ingredient is what makes a cell group grow.
What to Do if Your Protégé Is Not Responsive
Living in the kingdom of God must be generated by the Holy Spirit stirring within the believer's spirit. The very first thing to learn is whether or not your protégé has truly accepted Christ as Savior and Lord. You cannot expect a spiritual corpse to show signs of life. Being "dead in sin" is one reason a person who claims to be a Christian isn't responsive. Check it out.
But being "alive to sin" can also be a problem causing a lack of responsiveness. Scripture tells us the believer can grieve, resist, quench, or be filled with the Holy Spirit (see Acts 7:51; Ephesians 4:30–32; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 5:18). Is your protégé grieving, resisting, or quenching the Spirit? After Adam and Eve sinned, they avoided God. Check this out, too!
If your protégé is not responsive, the first thing is to establish a personal bond to provide deep sharing between the two of you. Confession of sin and awareness of strongholds is the first step in breaking the bondage of Satan. There is no timetable for this to take place. Patience and prayer are your tools of warfare for your protégé.
Excerpted from Mentoring Another Christian. Used with permission. Published by TOUCH Publications, Houston, Texas. 1-800-735-5865