For many leaders, the presence of a wiser, more experienced leader who can come alongside and help them not only survive but thrive in their current labors for Christ is immensely helpful.
So who would function well in this alongsider type role? From my experience, those who are fruitful in this type of role have several characteristics. First and foremost, they are mature in their walk with the Lord. Being old in the Lord does not necessarily mean that we are mature in the Lord. There are many who are older who are not mature. And there are many younger in age who are wise and mature beyond their experience.
A second essential for those who would serve as an ‘alongsider’ is that they must know their Bibles well. They must have saturated their lives with the Scriptures to such an extent that they can illustrate the ways of God seen throughout the Word, not just quote one or two of their favorite texts.
A third quality of a fruitful alongsider is that they are excellent listeners. They would rather here one word from those they serve than ‘pontificate’ 1000 words of their own. They show a genuine interest in the lives and well-being of those they help, having a holistic interest in all areas of their lives, not just the spiritual components.
The final quality needed for serving well as an ‘alongsider’ is that of demonstrated self-control. Note how Jesus introduces the above passage concerning the functions of the Holy Spirit. In John 16:12 NLT He says, “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now.” Jesus had to hold back some of the things He desired to tell the disciples because they were not ready to receive it. Jesus demonstrated great self-control in what, how, and when He shared with those He discipled and trained. We would do well to follow His example.
For those given the opportunity to come alongside others, helping them not just survive, but truly thrive in their season of life and in their labors for Christ, it is a great privilege. May we not take this privilege as a ‘right’ to be demanded or expected, but a privilege to be received with humility and grace as we point others to Jesus and His Word. He is the answer!