Mentoring: The Long Game

Don and Jacquie Cartledge have served as AGWM missionaries since 1981.  They worked in Chile for twenty five years and then in Costa Rica as the directors of CINCEL for four and a half years.  In 2015 they were assigned to Cuba where they lead the training for Cubans doing cross cultural ministry.  They have been married since 1974 and have two adult children, Sara and Jonathan, who are involved in full-time ministry in Delaware

The 2013 film “Now You See Me” is about a series of illusions that appear to be independent of one another but are really part of a series that leads to the last illusion of the film and then end of story, right?  Not quite. The film simply sets the stage for the sequel “Now You See Me 2” (2016) and the final illusion in that film wraps the story up... maybe. In 2019, “Now You See Me 3” will be coming out and will hopefully complete the trilogy once and for all.

Illusionists refer to illusions that lead to other illusions as “The Long Game.”  What happens in one instance simply sets the stage for what comes next. This is an apt description of how God works in our lives.  An event takes place and the presumption is that it exists in isolation and is unrelated to what occurs previous to it and what takes place immediately after.  But that is not necessarily the case.

The life of Moses is a classic example of “The Long Game” and how God shaped him through a series of instances that were both unbelievable and totally unexplainable at the time they occurred.  Moses' mother placed him in the water without any idea of where that simple act might lead. He was found by Pharaoh's daughter and taken to the palace to be raised as royalty in the Egyptian court.  When he reached adulthood, he watched an Egyptian slave master beating a Hebrew, and in an angry response Moses took the life of the Egyptian. When the murder became known, Moses fled to the land of Midian to take refuge from the Egyptian authorities.  There, he labored as a shepherd for forty years among the flocks of his father in law, Jethro. After those years had passed, the oppression of the Jews had become so intense that God took notice of their plight and appeared to Moses in the burning bush.  It was there that God called him to be the great liberator of the nation of Israel.

He returned to the court of Pharoah, where he implored the king on behalf of the Jews for their freedom.  Once they were delivered from their Egyptian bondage, Moses then lead them through their wanderings in the desert on the way to the promised land of Israel.  The climactic event of those wanderings was the forty days that Moses spent on Mount Sinai where he received the Ten Commandments. The legacy that Moses left behind continues with us to this day.

At every stage, we see God at work in “The Long Game” of Moses' life.  He used a group of mentors that were key pieces in his development as the great liberator of his people.  Starting with the daughter of Pharaoh, Moses was trained in the ways of the Egyptian court. This training appeared to be irrelevant when he fled to desert, but was of crucial importance on his return to Egypt. It provided the understanding he would need to navigate the cultural and governmental protocols that were necessary to interact with the Egyptian king.  She had done her task so well in the young man's life and it would prove to be a key to the freedom for which Israel had become so desperate. Thanks to her influence, Moses would become a bicultural leader of enduring impact.

Jethro enters the scene at the next stage of Moses' life.  He was an unknown shepherd who had no idea that the young fugitive who would become his son in law would need an in depth knowledge of the desert and its ways.  This mentor would prepare Moses to lead an entire nation for forty years through that very region. But his influence did not end there. He appeared once again when Moses was totally overwhelmed with the emotional load of governing over a million people in less than optimum conditions.  Jethro's advice and counsel were received and implemented because Moses knew that their source was reliable and worthy of his confidence. Talk about the impact of “The Long Game”- Jethro impacted Moses' life for at least eighty years!

The influence of his older brother, Aaron, must also be mentioned.  History shows that he was certainly not the perfect mentor, but he became Moses' mouthpiece and allowed Moses' (God's) message to be communicated clearly to Pharaoh and his court.  Aaron served as a peer mentor and confidant for Moses and allowed him to accomplish what he might never have achieved on his own.

The adoption by Pharaoh's daughter, the upbringing in Pharaoh's court, the murder of the Egyptian slave master, the flight into the desert, the forty years as a shepherd were all events that, taken in isolation, might not have made sense.  But taken together under the guiding hand of skilled mentors shaped Moses into the man God used as much as any other in Israel's history to change their destiny. All of these events were a part of God's “Long Game” and with the assistance of wise mentors were not wasted or lost.  Mentoring is always a long game both for the mentor and the mentoring partner. The results are almost never immediate but are the outcome of a God-ordained process where God places one individual in the path of another to mentor or be mentored in order to fulfill His purposes in that individual's life and in the lives of those who come into their sphere of influence.

The prayer on the heart of each of us who follow God should be that we stay open to those who cross our paths (as the daughter of Pharaoh and Jethro did) and that we be ready and available to mentor when those opportunities present themselves.  In addition to being available to mentor, we must avail ourselves to being mentored (as Moses was in the desert with Jethro). Scripture shows us that God seems ready to provide someone (a mentor) to help us interpret and to seize upon the circumstances of our lives for the advancement of the kingdom and for our own personal development.  We must ask ourselves if we will be aware and available when those opportunities present themselves. The outcome of God's “Long Game” in our lives and the lives of others may depend on it.

Meryl Spadaro