Last week as I was taking an update class for Red Cross Lifeguarding in a fitness facility in Plano, I heard over the speaker system what is arguably the best soundtrack for listening to when you exercise—the Rocky IV soundtrack! I was immediately taken back to many of the different scenes of Rocky training in the mountains of the then USSR, preparing for the bout of his life. He trained hard, but even in the most isolated location, he didn’t train alone.
When it comes to intentional physical training, it is a good idea and principle to never train alone. For those who are mature and experienced, who have developed lasting and proven habits and good techniques, there are times for solo training. But, for those who are just starting out or maybe have started many times, but have not stuck with it long enough to develop consistency, it is crucial to have a trainer to help you out.
You can hire a professional trainer, or you can find a friend who has already learned how to live the healthy lifestyle you desire and ask them to help you get there too. Either way, an experienced trainer can offer many things to help you stay the course—encouragement to keep going when you want to quit, demonstration of proper technique, correction on your form, exhortation to build good habits, etc.
Well, I will submit to you that it is no different for a believer trying to grow spiritually stronger. There are many, many examples of great Biblical heroes who were mentored by others.
- Joshua had Moses
- David had Samuel
- Elisha had Elijah
- John the Baptist had God-fearing parents
- Paul had Gamaliel
- Timothy and Titus both had Paul (as did many others)
- The Disciples had Jesus Christ
We are all born into this world with a nature that drives us to do things contrary to the Lord’s will. Our sinful nature is what is most natural for us to follow. We need to learn from others who have had experience in yielding to the Holy Spirit and walking through life in a manner that pleases the Lord.
I have been blessed to have a few very godly people that the Lord has used to shape my life and train me spiritually. I am very blessed to say that the first of these was my mom. The Lord used my mother’s faith in Jesus and her love for His Word and for her children to reveal Himself to me. My mom found herself fairly abruptly to be a single mom, raising three kids. She had already lost her mother to cancer, and just a few years later she would lose her dad as well. But even—and especially—in the harder times, she would always quote God’s word to us and tell us that He loves us and has plans for us and would take care of us. And He did, just as He promised to do and just as Mom told us He would do. God is faithful. So is my mother.
Mom didn’t just encourage us to believe and obey God’s word, but when necessary she would correct and rebuke me. She has always held me to the highest standard—that of the Lord Jesus Christ. When I would come up short, she was there to pick me up, help me see where I had sinned, and lovingly and forgivingly direct me back on the right path.
This is what Spiritual Fitness trainers do. Of course, they have different names in the church-world. We usually call them mentors, and the process of training someone is called discipleship.
Paul often taught on discipleship—both directly and indirectly. In 2 Timothy, he tells his young disciple Timothy to find faithful men to train, so that they in turn can become trainers of others. In Titus 2, Paul urges Titus to raise up mature men and women who can then teach the younger men and women how to live a godly life.
Believers are never commanded to go through life alone. We need each other. So, my challenge to you today is first to take stock of your Spiritual Fitness level. How is your walk with the Lord going? You may be either new to the Christian life or, like most people, have been a believer for a while but have yet to develop consistent and intentional habits that lead to a continually growing and vibrant relationship with Jesus. If this is you, find a Spiritual Trainer. Seek out a mature mentor within your church. Go to them and ask them straightforwardly if they can help you grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.
You might be a mature believer. You may already spend time daily in prayer and Bible study. Are you quick to confess sin? Do you look for every opportunity to share your faith? Are you more concerned about serving others in the church than you are about things being done your way? If so, then you need to be a Trainer; you need to be a mentor. Think back on those who were obedient to the Lord and were used by Him to disciple you. Now it is your turn.
Just like Rocky needed help preparing for the fight, we do, too. Could you imagine what would’ve happened to him had Mickey never trained him in the very first Rocky movie? I don’t think he would have been successful at all. I think he would’ve been pulverized. I know this too: without my mother and a couple other faithful believers who took time to disciple me, I definitely would’ve been knocked down and out by the world. I am thankful to the Lord for those who have trained me and continue to do so.
What about you? Are you being mentored by someone? Are you seeking to disciple anyone?