Mentoring – Part Seven

We are looking at “mentoring on purpose” – the first of eleven elements in the way that Jesus mentored His original followers. Every follower of Jesus should be discipling and mentoring at least one other person and these eleven points we are looking at should form the basic foundation for everything we do when mentoring others.

So, we are to set out ‘on purpose’ to mentor. That is the first of the eleven elements and what we have been looking at recently. And the goal of the mentoring process and your involvement in the lives of others is that they will become more godly and a more serious follower of Christ forever. To be more specific:

  • We want those we mentor to personally know God at a deeper level. To have a clear picture of God. Who He is. How God looks at them as adopted family members. And how they view God as the perfect father who loves them unconditionally and immeasurably.
  • We want them to embrace Scripture in a new and different way. They will commit specific verses to memory by topic so they can call the verses up and apply them to real-world situations. And, we want them to appreciate the entire Bible and to see how it produces answers to the questions of life.
  • We want them to understand spiritual warfare – what it is, how it is played out in the 21st Century, and how prayer can affect what is going on in the invisible realm.
    We want them to love the Church and commit to it, as it is unquestionably God’s chosen vehicle to bring change into the life of others and is the “Bride of Christ” for which He is returning one day.
  • We want them to have God’s perspective on money and possessions.
  • We want them to know how to make good and wise decisions, building those decisions on God’s advice and wisdom and on a good understanding of the Christian faith as found in the pages of Scripture.
  • We want them to learn to trust God in every aspect of their lives … to pray, seek counsel, make wise decisions, and move forward, trusting God for all the outcomes.
  • We want them to understand God’s perspective on marriage and how to live out their role.
  • We want them to fulfill and enjoy their role as godly parents.
  • We want them to accept their responsibility to be intentional about influencing the people in their sphere of influence to move one step closer to Christ … to be intentional disciple makers.

For all this to happen within a mentoring relationship God has to move in many different ways. So, He is intimately involved in this process: loving, challenging, affirming, stretching, teaching, leading, guiding, imparting wisdom and bringing revelation. All the things a perfect parent would do as they raise their children.

This mentoring process that is embraced daily and done “on purpose” works because it starts with the inner person and their relationship with his or her heavenly Father. With clarity in that relationship, focus moves to the way the inner person thinks, acts, and then relates first with themselves, then with their spouse, children, and the rest of their relationships in the world.

Jesus’ choice of mentoring a small group of followers to effect His mission was
a brilliant decision. Just do the math: twelve disciples multiplying themselves over and over, and the number of people getting the message is overwhelming. There was no more effective way to get an important message out in the first century with no internet, TV, or direct marketing mail.

What is really neat is that today, even with al the technology, individual influence, word of mouth, multiplication is still the most powerful way to communicate a message. Companies spend billions today to create brands, viral marketing, and buzz, all for the purpose of spreading their message quickly and effectively to millions of people.

 

And the message that Jesus has in unique. It is not about theology or a doctrine as much as it is about a man. His origin, His life, His ministry, His death, His resurrection, and His purpose for the world. In the first-century world there was no more powerful communications vehicle than the firsthand account of an eyewitness who saw something. That was the first step in God’s plan to reveal the message of Jesus: to have Him “live out loud” in front of a small group of people, His disciples, and thus position them to describe firsthand what they heard and saw.

Jesus mentored others “on purpose!”

Next time – second element of the way Jesu mentored – It is a selfless endeavour. It is not about you or me.

 

 

Mentoring – Part Six

Mentoring is not about coming to know something. Teaching to mentoring is the way that many leaders approach the whole idea of mentoring others or even mentoring one-on-one. This is not to deny that during the mentoring process those being mentored learn things. Of course they do. But this is not the prime purpose of mentoring nor is it the best overall approach. That is the purpose of education.

Mentoring is also not about learning to do something. That would be training.

Mentoring is about showing someone how to be someone. It is about becoming a committed learner (disciple) and follower of Jesus Christ because that is what the Christian faith is all about. Mentoring is walking with someone and helping them become more and more like Jesus. Helping them to integrate Jesus and their faith in Him into all aspects of their life and any ministry that the Holy Spirit gives them.

The end result of mentoring should be a reproducing disciple who then goes out into all their world and makes more disciples. In this way the Christian faith continues to spread around the world and Jesus is lifted up and glorified by those who are called Christians. This was the way the early Church functioned.

About 350 years after Christ, the Roman Emperor Julian ( AD 332-363) wanted to reinstitute faithfulness to the pagan religions of Rome but struggled because Christians were doing such good things for people, even strangers, that they rendered the Roman gods irrelevant. It would be amazing to render the pagan gods of the 21st Century irrelevant by having millions of Christ followers become so genuine in their faith and the outward expression of that faith that they changed the world with their kindness, mercy, and generosity as they mentored others to do the same.

I believe that can happen. Not through church services on Sunday, televangelists, crusades, or even megachurches – but through mentoring. We must emulate what Jesus did – help men and women become learners and followers of Jesus Christ with a passion and commitment to pay it forward to others – going into their world and making disciples, mentoring others as they have been mentored.

Modern-day church people love classes, seminars, Bible studies, conferences, and small groups. We show up, sit in circles or rows, listen, share, pray, eat, and leave. Usually there is some homework to do after each meeting. It’s neat. It’s predictable. It’s noninvasive. It’s easily merged into our wrinkle-free lives.

Mentoring is different. There is no set curriculum per se. There isn’t a video with discussion questions. There isn’t a form you fill out at the end that says, “Joe Smith has completed blankety-blank course.”

You can get dirty mentoring people because it is all about real life and integrating real and active faith into real life. Real people bring real issues into the mentoring group and so it is vital that those involved in the mentoring process – especially the mentor – get personal, transparent, and exposed. You will often hear the mentor say, “I don’t know. I can tell you what I did when… Here’s how it turned out for me. Here’s what I wish I had done. Here’s what Jesus said about it. Here’s what I missed.”

The role of mentor is to help younger ones interpret what’s happening the right way, the Scriptural way … the God way. Through it all, the mentor is practicing their own faith and making themselves stronger believers and followers of Jesus as well.

We are discussing the first of eleven elements of the way Jesus mentored His closest disciples. The first element of the way Jesus mentored was that it was on purpose. It was all about the Father and building (expanding) the Kingdom. Jesus was on a mission, and mentoring was the key strategy to fulfill His mission. Thus He did it on purpose.

More next time…

Mentoring – Part Five

In his book “Apple Confidence, Owen W. Linzmayer tells of the interaction between John Scully and Steve Jobs, the founder and chief of Apple Computer. Scully, then the legendary CEO of Pepsico, tells how he repeatedly turned down Job’s compelling offer to come head up Apple. Until one day when Jobs said something that rocked Scully’s world,

“Do you want to spend the rest of your life feeling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world.”

 That was the defining moment. Scully changed his mind, quit one of the most lucrative, high-profile CEO positions in America, and moved to California to join the team of this small, upstart computer company with a vision.

 So, the question we all need to answer for ourselves:

            “Do you want to change the world or even your own personal world?”

If your answer is yes then you are in good company because Jesus was out to change His world. He had a purpose – to bring sinners into the Kingdom and into relationship with the Living God – and He was seriously intentional about this purpose.

So, the first of eleven elements of Jesus’ method of mentoring is that He mentored on purpose. It was not by accident but was very intentional.

To understand His intentionality – we first need to understand His purpose.

Jesus told us His purpose. Recorded by John, He said, “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full”(John 10:10). This purpose motivated Jesus to do what He did as well as guided the way He did it.

Let’s look for a few minutes at that statement from the Gospel of John. What does it mean to have “life” and by “have it in full”?

Jesus gave us new life by rescuing us from spiritual death and the domain of darkness (Colossians 1:13). This new life is to be experienced now and also continues on when we die. Without this new life we would live without hope now regarding what happens beyond the grave.

But because Jesus fulfilled His life purpose of making a way for us when there was no way – we know that we will die, but still live. Jesus did. He died a public, undeniable death and then miraculously and supernaturally came back to life, showing Himself to those He was mentoring and to hundreds of others as well. He fulfilled His purpose and then, as He was ascending into Heaven, He passed His purpose on to those who believed in Him – His disciples. And, that includes every believer today.

So, we have received “life” as we are born again and have the very life and nature of God with us (John 1:4) and know for certain that when we die we will instantly be with Jesus and our Heavenly Father. But, to “have life to the full” or, as another version states, “have life and have it more abundantly” we must join Jesus in the task that He left for us and do it the way He did it.

Jesus stated:

Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

To have “life to its fullest” while living as disciples we need to move beyond the gift of salvation where we know and experience peace with God (Romans 5:5) as well as the peace of God. We need to be intentional and become involved in His purposeof bringing others into the Kingdom and a personal relationship with the Living God. We need to intentionally get involved in the cause that Jesus started … the cause of redemption. We have to become other focused. We have to start thinking outside our own little world and ask God: “How can I help? What would You have me do? I know that my purpose in life is to bring glory to You and that this is best accomplished by telling others about You. How would you have me go about doing this?”

You will hear His answer – He wants you to go into your neighbourhood and community and touch lives for Him. As you do this He will draw certain people to your attention. These are the ones He wants you to focus on and build relationally with. And, as a result of building relationally, you will then have opportunity to join them on their journey of faith and begin to disciple and mentor them, helping them to take the next step in that journey. If they are not yet born again you will help them to “see Jesus” (John 12:21) and if they are saved then you will encourage and enable them to move forward in their walk with the Lord.

In this way you will be carrying on the purpose for which Jesus came and the task or mandate that He then gave to His people, the Church, the “go into all the world and make disciples.” And, you will be fulfilling The Great Commission the way Jesus showed us it was to be accomplished – by discipling and mentoring.

So, our first of eleven points regarding the way Jesus mentored …

It is on purpose. It is all about the Father and building the Kingdom. Jesus was on a mission, and mentoring was the key strategy to fulfill that mission.

More next time….

Mentoring – Part Four

We are looking at the basic six reasons that every believer needs a mentor and why every believer should be mentoring someone on a regular basis. So far we have see:

1> Jesus did it, and He told us to do it as well

2> We will find greater and deeper meaning and fulfillment in life when we mentor others

3> It will sharpen you and help keep you sharp and living on the growing edge of Christian life

Let’s look at the remaining three this time around

4> Mentoring will make you more grateful

Mentoring others either individually or as a group will only be successful if it is done from the overflow of gratitude from a grateful heart. Many Christians will hear a sermon or read a book and be motivated by the desire to “be good” to do something good. Others will feel guilty for their past lives, saying, “You know, I owe God so much, I want to pay Him back.” Still others may be motivated by pride. It is kind of a rush to have a group of people say that they want to hang out with you just to learn from you.

But, the only consistent, long-term motivation for the Christian to be selfless and to serve and mentor others is gratitude for what God has done for them. This deep sense of gratitude stems from three sources.

  • A> The person doing the mentoring has experienced a dramatic life changebecause of their encounter with Jesus and their salvation experience. They have experienced a 180 degree turn around in their life and, out of gratitude for what God has done, want to tell others and help them to grow in their relationship with God. Their motivation is rooted in the fact that God forgave them totally and accepted them just as they are regardless of how deep they were in sin.
  • B> A second group will base their gratitude on some event or crisis in their life, where God intervened and saved them or their loved ones from a catastrophe. Their motivation is pure. They are not trying to pay God back; they are just deeply grateful for His mercy and kindness. Often they sensed that God helped them and preserved their life for a specific reason. And, this  sense of being alive for some Kingdom purpose provides a lasting source of motivation for mentoring others.
  • C> The third group of highly motivated mentorshave not has a significant near-death experience, nor have they been rescued from a life of deep, dark sin. They justseem to grasp the significance of the cross and the love that God has for them. Responding to God’s loving call on their lives, they love, they serve, they give … they just seem to get the idea of mentoring somehow. These people make great mentors because they have known God for a long time and have faithfully followed Him on a daily basis as they experienced the various aspects of real life.

So, mentoring must arise out of a grateful heart.

5> You will leave a real, living legacy

Too often people simply live, take up space, breath air, and then die. Their existence upon the earth has not changed anything or any one. They don’t have a living legacy. Gone and soon forgotten. Such a total waste of life.

Others strive to make money, and then donate large sums so that they can having a building or charitable foundation named after them. Good but not really the way God has set out for us to leave a living legacy after we are dead and gone.

When some people in their nineties were surveyed several year ago, they were asked this question: “What are the three things you wish you had done and didn’t do?”

Their answers:

A> “Take more risks”

B> “Reflect more”

C> “Focus more on the things that will live beyond me”

The third one deals with leaving a legacy. It is answering the question: “How have I spent my life up to this point?” It is being reflective and asking, “Ten years from now, how will anyone know that I was even here?”

Those who mentor others have already looked at these questions and have found a way to leave a living legacy. Simply mentor others … imparting into them who you are and what you know. Because they helped younger Christians and even non-Christians to take the next step in their journey towards or with Jesus they are developing a living legacy that will remain long after they have departed this life.

So, let God use you to help others to move forward in their relationship with Jesus. Remember, “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17).

6> You won’t waste your life

A speaker asks the question: “If your life were a dollar, how are you spending it?”

That question creates laser focus:

  • What am I doing with my life?
  •    Am I more than just another “piece of the machine”?
  • Did God put me here just to go to church and then die and go to heaven?

John Piper, in his book “Don’t Waste Your Life,” gives this perspective:

I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story in the February 1998 edition of Readers Digest, which tells about a couple who “took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball, and collect shells.” At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American dream. But it wasn’t. Tragically, this was the dream. Come to the end of your life – your one and only precious, God-given life – and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells. Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment. “Look, Lord. See my shells.” That is a tragedy. And people are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: “Don’t buy it. Don’t waste your life!”

As you walk with Jesus look for others who are not as far along in the journey and reach back and give them a helping hand. Mentor them – pouring your life and your wealth of wisdom gained from life lived with Jesus into them. Stop thinking of retirement at 55 or whatever age you have set – and start thinking of investing your life in others regardless of your current age.

Don’t waste your life. Do what Jesus did. Pick some less experienced people and mentor them.

Mentoring – Part Three

Before we look at the elements of mentoring as seen in the life and ministry of Jesus and His relationship with His original twelve disciples (listed and briefly explained in the previous blog in this series); let’s look at six reasons we should all, as dedicated followers of Jesus, be involved in both being mentored and mentoring others.

1> Jesus did it, and He told us to do it as well.

Jesus is often seen as many different things by people of a variety of religions. However, there is no denying that in essence and in action He was a mentor. His mentorees became totally committed to His mission, worked together as an effective team, and through their efforts, the Christian faith (it is not a religion) has spread to the four corners of the world.

His final instruction to us before He returned to His place in Heaven with the Father was what? “Go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). He is telling us, “Go and do what I did. Go and find some people who are a little farther behind you on the path, and help them take their next steps, just as I did with My disciples.” His call is universal. Its transgender. It certainly transcends vocations since none of Jesus’ mentorees were church people (nor was He).

2> You will find meaning and fulfillment

In the world today, people spend the majority of their time and money making memories for themselves and their loved ones. And, as we do we draw farther and father away from having meaning in our lives.

Pursuing meaning in our lives does not exclude having great memories, but meaning matters in a deeper and a more long-lasting way. Meaning says that the activity you are involved with is really important. Meaning says that it matters at a deep level. Meaning says the consequences of the activity will affect the people involved for a long time. Meaning says that there is a multiplier effect, that future generations of people will benefit from the thing that has meaning. It is much more than taking and organizing pictures that you took – pictures of your memories that die with you. And then the pictures are thrown out by others because to them they are meaningless as they did not have that experience nor is it a memory that they share.

Mentoring a group of young people for a season gives life meaning and has long-term meaning and effect.

3> It will sharpen you and help keep you sharp

Intentionally getting involved in the lives of young people and mentoring them is a great opportunity for the mentor to learn and to refresh knowledge that he already has. Someone once said, “We teach what we most need to learn.”

As you go through the process of reviewing what you have learned. So as to share it, you will rediscover things you have overlooked or forgotten … skills that are so much a part of your unconscious competence yet have been sitting on the shelf for years. As you share the principles that you have learned over the years from classes, books, and life experiences, you end up learning them all over agin yourself and at a much deeper level.

And, as you share with those you are mentoring you will find that they too have wisdom and understanding that they can share with you. They have knowledge gained from what they are learning and experiences that they have had. And, as they relate to you, they share these truths and insights with you and you grow as well. It is a symbiotic process that breathes new life into the mentor as you share what you know and get your knowledge base expanded at the same time.

More on this next time…

Mentoring – Part Two

Mentoring has become a buzz word these days in the Church world. However, it is not a new concept. Jesus mentored twelve men for three years sharing life and ministry with them on a daily basis. As a result, He had a tremendous impact on their lives – their world perspective, their beliefs, their priorities, their desires and dreams, their understanding of Scripture, as well as their lifestyle. These men then went out and impacted the world in which they lived and, as a result, the Church grew and lives were changed throughout the known world at that time.

Tim Elmore said, “More time with fewer people equals greater Kingdom impact.” After 40+ years in full-time ministry I would totally agree with him. The greatest impact of all the various aspects of my ministry has been and still is found in those I have mentored over the years.

When you look at the way that Jesus lived His life and thus the way He mentored those who were His close associates we see a number of key ingredients:

1> It’s on purpose.

It is all about the Father and Kingdom building. Jesus was on a mission, and mentoring was the key strategy to fulfill His mission.

2> It’s a selfless endeavour.

Jesus mentored out of obedience to the Father. He got nothing out of it personally. He simply responded to God’s call on His life and did what the Father led Him to do.

3> It starts in a group context, not one-on-one.

Jesus knew the value of interaction of group members with one another. The group becomes a community, inextractable from one another. Jesus also accepted and even promoted the ‘group within the group’ that invariably develops. He had favourites, and He didn’t hide it or apologize for it. Yes, there was powerful one-on-one interaction, but it started in the context of the group.

This is not to deny that Jesus spent time one-on-one with His disciples. And, in practice today we often see a good deal of one-on-one mentoring as the relationships mature and a specific person stands out as one who could become a leader of leaders with some individual attention. Because of the nature of the personal sharing of life and ministry this can also turn into a life-time friendship.

4> Jesus handpicked those He mentored after much prayer.

The group was made up of regular, normal people, not “church people.” They were a diverse group … and certainly not a holy huddle. The mentor – mentored relationship was acknowledged. It was not a peer-to-peer group; it was a mentor-mentored construct – clear and unapologetic.

5> It was for a short, defined period of time.

Jesus’ mentoring began on time and ended on time. There was a graduation day when His mentors were commissioned and launched.

6> At the core of Jesus’ teaching was Scripture.

Jesus and His mentors knew the Scriptures by heart. The Word guided their decision making. Jesus helped His guys understand and apply God’s Word to their daily life and ministry.

7> Public and private prayer played a big role in the mentoring.

Jesus modelled a prayerful life; He taught the disciples how to pray and prayed with them and for them.

8> Jesus modelled His faith in a very transparent way.

Jesus lived out His life in front of His mentors. They became like family to Him. They saw how He applied His faith, how He struggled, how He handled stress, and how He handled dying.

9> Jesus taught along the way as they lived life and ministered together.

He was practical yet spiritual. Jesus helped His guys with practical situations … everything from taxes to workplace issues, from goal setting to family relations. He was far more practical than hypothetical. They discussed the law for sure, but Jesus taught from His knowledge and experience.

10> They was a mutual commitment, and it was a huge commitment.

They left their businesses, families, homes … all to follow and learn. Jesus never gave up on them, even when they failed and ran away. Ultimately they never gave up on Jesus, giving their lives not for His memory or His teachings but for His Kingdom.

11> It had a required multiplication element.

It produced mature believers and disciple makers. Multiplication was a part of what every one signed up for, and no one was excluded from that requirement.

Together, these elements yielded a group of committed Christ followers.

Mentoring – Part One

As I travel to the many nations the Lord has called me to minister in I see a real lack of mentoring of the next generation. As I relate to many young people in these nations – in person, by various apps and through emails – I hear them crying out for mature men and women who would be their spiritual fathers and mothers. Oh, they might not word their felt need in those terms but after many decades of ministry and relating to young people it is obviously a cry for mentoring.

When you look at the ministry of Jesus as recorded for us in the four gospels you see Jesus investing the majority of His time in building relationally with His twelve disciples. He mentored them. During His three years of earthly ministry Jesus poured His life into these twelve men that He had chosen and involved them personally in all aspects of His life and ministry. Then He sent them out to do the same – find others that they could invite into a mentoring relationship so they could pour their lives into others as Jesus had done for them. This is the essence of mentoring.

Paul, after his conversion on the road to Damascus, followed the same pattern. We hear him mention that he was the spiritual father of Timothy (1 Timothy 1:2 “…my true child in the faith”). He then commands Timothy to do the same with other young men calling him to “pass it on” and duplicate himself in others as Paul had done with Him.

2 Timothy 2:2 “…and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

And so, what Jesus began with the early disciples continued and a mentoring movement was begun that Jesus wants continued today. Even Paul went on to mentor others like Titus and Silas to name just a few.

This method of discipling and mentoring as seen in the life and ministry of the Lord was so different that we should be stunned by the simplicity of it. And, within this ‘life process’ Jesus and Paul were able to help these young men integrate their personal faith into every facet of life – not just church life but the family, the market place or business world, the sports world, and into personal friendships and all other relationships. We have often made it much too complicated even transforming something simple and life-giving into a program without life.

Jesus understood a truth that every one of us needs to grasp…

More time spent with fewer people equals greater Kingdom impact

Instead of responding to every need as a leader and pastor I learned that it was much more productive to take the limited time I had available and pour it into the lives of a few. This meant being proactive instead of reactive. It meant being principle-driven and proactive, working into the lives of a select group of young men the truths that God has shown me through my experiences and mistakes and what I have learned about life by applying His Word, the Bible, consistently over the last 40 plus years.

No matter how you see Jesus – history shows us that He was a mentor. Those He mentored became totally committed to His mission and the Kingdom. They worked together as an effective team, and through their efforts the early Church saw tremendous growth and spread to every corner of the Roman Empire.

So, for the next few weeks I would like to unpack the model of mentoring Jesus used that made such an amazing difference in the life of His disciples and that helped to change the world one life at a time.