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I have my great grandfather’s indenture document relating to his apprenticeship as a printer in London’s Fleet Street in 1881. He served as an apprentice for seven years. In contrast my Merchant Navy training agreement was for three years, despite it taking four years to fully complete a cadetship in the early 1970s. These days there are modern apprenticeships in which cadets often follow a degree course spending more time at college, less time at sea, and slightly less time training in total. What happened to the requirement for experience?

It is my understanding that several of the disciples called by Jesus were teenagers at the time. He called them at the beginning of His ministry and spent the next three years training them. These young men were apprenticed to the Master who invested heavily in providing His apprentices with intensive theoretical and practical instruction. We should not be surprised at what they achieved after three years with Jesus and their graduation from the training programme on the day of Pentecost.

Thinking about apprenticeships, disciples, and the challenges in Scripture to become mature in my faith made me wonder how much time I have spent with Jesus. I am not talking about how many years have passed since I first made a commitment to follow Him, but about quality time walking with Him, talking with Him, listening to Him, worshipping Him. Would it all add up to three years? No! There are 1,576,800 minutes in three years. I gave my life to Jesus forty-three years ago. To have spent three years in his presence over this time would have required me to have spent 100 minutes with Him every day. I guess it will be a long time before I complete my apprenticeship. How about you?

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:11-16 NIV)