MENTORING: A WITNESS TO “WITHNESS”

Originally Posted on dr.abc
Date of Original Post | Nov 2, 2015

“Jesus appointed twelve–designating them apostles–that they might be withhim…” (Mark 3:14)

Essential to every mentoring relationship is a connectedness that comes from being “with” someone. “Withness” is a core ingredient in mentoring. The ministry of identifying and being present in each other’s life experiences allows us to move beyond the superficial to a level of transparency and vulnerability. It is only then that personal transformation can occur.

The term “withness” is used by Leonard Sweet to describe indispensable relationships. He explains that witness comes from the Greek word marturos, from which we get the word martyr. “Witnesses are people who are willing to be martyrs, to ‘witness unto death’. But before the apostles could be ‘witnesses to him,’ they first had to simply ‘be with him,’ to be ‘Withnesses.’” (Sweet, 2008)

Just as the disciples spent time with Jesus, it is important for us to spend time with Jesus and with one another. Jesus focused intently on training the twelve apostles and spent quality time with them. My own experience is that those who have spent time with me in my celebratory and my challenging moments helped to disciple me.

Mentoring exists in many forms, and the power of “withness” is seen in most of them. I am a witness to the power of “withness” in mentoring:

“withness” during my loss of loved ones,

“withness” when friends betray,

“withness” in job transition,

“withness” in the birth and rearing of children,

“withness”  during health challenges,

“withness” after disappointments,

“withness” during financial blessings and setbacks,

“withness” when dreams are deferred,

and “withness”  when dreams are realized…

Mentors have been with me and have spoken into my life and left an imprint.

Scriptures confirm the concept of “withness” in mentoring relationships. The angel knew Mary needed to be with someone who was also experiencing a miracle. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months when Elizabeth was six months pregnant (Luke 1:56). Despite Naomi’s attempts to encourage Ruth to leave, Ruth would not leave Naomi (Ruth 1:16-18). Despite Elijah’s attempts to encourage Elisha to stay behind while he went to the next place, Elisha stayed with Elijah. He was with him in Gilgal, in Bethel, in Jericho, and the Jordan. He said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you” (2 Kings 2:2, 4, 6).  Many believe that the places Elijah and Elisha journeyed together represented stages or stations with lessons. It was in the “withness” that lives were enriched, lessons were learned, and mantles were given.

We must be willing to journey with another, to be “with” them. With them like Elizabeth for Mary, with them like Ruth for Naomi, and with them like Elisha for Elijah. With us, even as God sent the best example in Jesus. “His name shall be called Emmanuel–God is with us!” (Matthew 1:23).

How has God used “withness” in your mentoring experiences? What would “withness” look like for you? Who needs you to be with them, to mentor them? Who do you need to be “with” for your spiritual growth?

Leonard Sweet, 11 Indispensable Relationships You Can’t Be Without. (David Cook, 2008) p.20

 

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