By Cindy Blunier

I recently joined Facebook-a total cave in to peer pressure from my adult children and my best friend.  One of the first things I was faced with was the idea of virtual farming.  After farming in real life the first 18 years of our marriage, I am well aware of all the work it takes to live on a farm and I had no intention of feeding animals and tending crops online.

I am, however, drawn to a different type of farming.  In John 21, Jesus repeatedly asks Peter, “Do you love me?”  Peter replies that he does and then Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”  And I can do that online.

The concept of eMentoring provides a great opportunity to care for God’s people, to feed His sheep.  There are a lot of sheep who are hungry spiritually and emotionally, who need the water of life through encouragement, some who are lonely and need a shepherd-friend, some who need guidance and others who need comfort.  That’s a lot of sheep with a lot of different needs-and many different types of food to meet those needs.

Where should we start?

To be an effective mentor, I believe it starts with nourishing ourselves.  Simply spending quality time in the Word is a great place to begin.  Also critical is asking the Holy Spirit to fill us with His power so that we can be effectively poured out into the lives of others.

I would also suggest examining your life experience, the suffering God has brought you through.  In 2 Cor. 1 we are encouraged to comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.   You might prayerfully consider, How has God comforted me-and how can I compassionately, authentically feed others through that experience?  Verse 5 says, “For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”

There seems to be a key concept here of “overflowing”.  We must be filled with the Spirit and know the Word of God before we can impart it to others; as the saying goes, “You can’t give what you don’t have.” And we must be willing to wrestle through the issues in our own lives, engaging with them on a heart-level in order to be truly comforted ourselves, then spill into the intimate moments of others’ circumstances.

But what if I feed the sheep the wrong food and it is more harmful than it is helpful?  Ah, that’s where reliance on God comes in.  There are a couple of Scriptures that I find helpful when I fear I’m in danger of poisoning one of His sheep.  James 1:5 is one of my all-time favorites, the prayer for wisdom that God promises to grant to anyone that asks.  Another one is Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”  Pray for wisdom.  Trust that God will guide you.  They’re His sheep and He loves them far more than you.

Maybe cyber-farming isn’t all that bad.  It actually has some eternal benefits.

I think I hear some hungry sheep…