Leaders, Who Should We Mentor? – Part Two

Over the many years that I have mentored I have certainly made a lot of mistakes. One of the main ones was in my choices of who to enter into a mentoring relationship with. As a result, I believe I have wasted a lot of my time working with young men who simply did not want to pay the price to grow and develop. And, some who spent more time trying to impress me with all that they knew (as little as it really was) instead of listening, receiving and learning. As a result, I have developed a list of what I now look for in a person before I invite them into a mentoring relationship or before saying yes if they have asked me to mentor them.

1> They make things happen

2> They see and seize opportunities

3> They influence others

We covered these yesterday in the daily blog. Let’s move on from there…

4> They add value to those around them

Every person around you has an effect on you and your ability to fulfill your vision. You have probably noticed this before. Some people seem to hinder you, always taking more from you than they give in return. Others add value to you, improving everything you do. When they come along side you, synergy develops that takes both of you to a new level. 

There are probably people in your life with whom you experience synergy. You inspire and take each other to higher levels. Can you think of anyone better to take on as someone to mentor. They need you to move forward and move higher and, as you work with and mentor them, they will also add value to you as their mentor. You will be on the journey of life together.

5> They attract others (potential) leaders

As you look for potential leaders to mentor and develop, you need to realize that there are really two kinds of leaders: those who attract followers and those who attract other leaders. People who attract and team up only with followers will never be able to do anything beyond what they can personally touch or supervise. For each person they interact with, they are influencing only one person – a follower. But people who attract leaders influence many other people through their interaction. Their team can be incredible, especially if the leaders they recruit also attract other leaders.

Besides the obvious factor of influence, there are other significant differences between people who attract followers and people who attract leaders, Here are a few:

LEADERS WHO ATTRACT FOLLOWERS…                    LEADERS WHO ATTRACT LEADERS…

Need to be needed                                                                   What to be succeeded

Want recognition                                                                     Want to reproduce themselves

Focus on others’ weaknesses                                                  Focus on others’ strengths

Want to hold on to power                                                        Want to share power

Spend their time with others                                                   Invest their time in others

Are good leaders                                                                         Are great leaders

Experience some success                                                          Experience incredible success

As you look for people to join you on your journey so you can mentor them, look for leaders who attract other leaders. That will enable you to multiply your influence. But also know this – in the long run, you can only lead and mentor people whose leadership ability is less than or equal to your own. To keep attracting better and better leaders to mentor, you will have to keep developing your own leadership abilities. In that way, you and your mentorees will continue growing not only in potential, but also in effectiveness. 

More tomorrow….

Leaders, Who Should We Mentor? – Part One

Over the years I have mentored a good number of young men who have successfully moved into leadership positions and become influential in the Kingdom. It is always rewarding to see young men grow, develop, mature, and begin to make a difference in the world. 

Many young people ask if I would mentor them. Recently I have even had several older men who already have a profession (lawyers) ask me to mentor them in spiritual things. In the past I would simply give a blanket and immediate yes. Why? Because I love to invest in people and see the Kingdom receive a return on the time and effort I have invested. 

However, many of the young people I agreed to mentor in the past simply never put the effort into learning, growing, and maturing. They want to be connected to me and the ministry; they want to travel with me; they want me to be available to them if and when they should have a question. But, they are not entering into the available mentoring relationship. The key word is ‘relationship.” 

We mentor within an established relationship. And we are to mentor those who have proved themselves and thus have the obvious potential to give the mentor and the Kingdom a return on their investment. Mentoring is more than simply having me ‘available’ when they need me, hanging around and being with me when I am in their area, and being part of the ministry team. It is intentional, relational, and requires regular personal contact and involvement. 

So, I recently have narrowed down what I look for in a person whom I might consider as someone to mentor and thus entering into a mentoring relationship with. This has certainly narrowed down the number of people I would say I was mentoring. And, eliminated a lot of coffees which were, in many ways, a nice social entity but really a waste of my time at this season in my life.

When deciding to mentor someone I am looking for:

1> Someone who makes things happen

I pay less attention to what people are saying and more attention to what they do. As I watch what people do I quickly note those who are making things happen in their life and focus on them. These people don’t wait for someone to give them resources – they go out and find them. They don’t wait for someone to give them an opportunity – they create opportunities even when none existed. They never make excuses – they simply work hard and find a way to make things happen.

2> They see and seize opportunities

Many people are able to recognize an opportunity after it has already passed them by. But seeing opportunities coming, that’s a different matter. Opportunities are seldom labeled. So, someone worth mentoring is someone who has learned what an opportunity looks like and how to seize them. The best people to mentor are those who make it their personal responsibility to go out and find new opportunities.

I travel a lot. And, when I arrive at my destination someone is suppose to be there to pick me up. Most times I have never met the person and they don’t know me. There are two ways you can go about picking up someone you don’t know from the airport. 

One way is to make a sign with the name of the person you’re expecting, stand near the baggage claim area, hold up the sign, and wait for the person to find you. If he sees you, great. If he doesn’t, you keep waiting. 

The other way is to find out what the person looks like, position yourself strategically near the right gate, and search for him until you find him. 

There is a world of difference between the two approaches. And, the person you should mentor is the one who goes looking – not the one who stands and waits. 

3> They influence others

Everything rises and falls on leadership. That’s true because a person’s ability to make things happen in and through others depends entirely on his or her ability to lead them. Without leadership there is no teamwork and people go their own way. A leader needs to know where they are going and has the ability to influence others to come with them on the journey.

So, when thinking about influencers (leaders) – those you would do well to mentor – you need to look at:

A> Who is currently influencing them? You can tell a lot about who they will influence and how they will go about doing it by knowing who their heroes and mentors are.

B> Who they currently influence? You’ll be able to judge their current level of leadership effectiveness by who they are currently influencing.

C> Is their influence increasing or decreasing? You can tell whether a person is a past leader or a potential leader by examining which direction the level of influence is going.

To be a good judge of potential leaders, don’t just see the person – see all the people that person currently influences. The greater the influence, the greater the leadership potential and the ability to get others to work together. That’s the person you want to mentor. 

More next time…

Looking For a Teachable Spirit

When I am asked to mentor someone I immediately look to see if they have a teachable spirit. Currently, when someone asks if they can come with me and be a part of my team on an international apostolic trip I again look to see if they are teachable. 

And, regretfully, in many cases those wanting to work with me and be mentored by me are simply not teachable. So, my answer is now no. I have to be honest and say that I have too often, in the past, simply wasted my time and effort hoping that the time with them will bring about change and that they will grow as a result of the trip they join me on.

There is only so much time available in a day and I simply don’t want to spend time with people who are not teachable. People who think they know as much as I do. Maybe they do – and, if they do, then honestly they need to look for someone smarted and more experienced than I am. But, in most cases they really are not smarter or better – they simply have a high opinion of themselves, their abilities and they knowledge. An opinion I don’t share obviously.

I also don’t want to waste my time with those who are not serious about growing and developing their gifts, their skills, and their understanding. And, people who are are not teachable and who ignore constructive criticism and valid suggestions for improvement are simply wasting my time.

I am looking for young people who are teachable. Young people who want to grow, develop, and mature in the faith and in life in general. These people are hard to find but when one comes along or you locate one they are an excellent place to invest your time. I immediately make a commitment to a person who is teachable. 

You see, and I say this often, there are only three things you can do with your time – remembering that you have a limited amount of time to use and you cannot save some for later. Three things you can do with time – waste it, spend it, or invest it. I look for people with a teachable spirit so that I can invest in them and not simply waste or spend time. 

Growth and change, development and maturity begins with having a teachable spirit. What does that entail? What does that look like? It means having a passion to learn, the intention to learn every day, and reflecting on what you learn so that you know how to apply what you are learning. It is a bit like gardening. A garden doesn’t spring into life on its own. It requires planning, hard work, and the right environment. A gardener must do the work: prepare the soil, plant the seeds, water the plants, then feed, mulch, and weed. It’s an intentional process, and it must occur every day.

I personally try to cultivate a growth environment and maintain a teachable spirit. I learned to do this through a man who mentored me for many years through his books and teachings…

1> I make personal growth (and thus growth in my ministry) my number-one priority. 

I am conscious of my need to learn 24/7 because a day without growth is not a good day. So, in a practical way I always have a book with me. Most times a paper copy but, if not, then I have one of my two ebook readers stuffed in my pocket or the pocket of the car seat. I am never without something to read because, in any given day, I can read several decent length chapters in a book while waiting for people with whom I have an appointment or while in line waiting for an oil change or whatever. 

I also have recently begun scheduling an hour a day just to read. I invest in a good and large cup of coffee, find a quiet corner in my favourite coffee shop, and bury my nose in a good book. I also have highlighters and a pen with me to mark up the book and take notes. Usually my iPad is available to computerize what I noted. If not, then I computerize what I have learned later (see point number 4)

2> I look for growth possibilities in every situation.

No matter what I am doing, whether succeeding or failing, opportunities to grow are there. The question is, do I see it and take advantage of it? I spend time in airports and on flights talking with those who are sitting near me. They often have had experiences and know things that I can learn from them firsthand. I have recently had conversations with a witch, a well-known economist, a medical research assistant, several college students, and members of several national sports teams (Russian, Kazakhstan,, Ukraine). 

Of course, if you are carrying a book – even when there is no one to talk to and ask questions of – growth is always possible. 

3> I ask questions that will help me to grow.

Growth does not find me. I must find it. The fastest way to find out what I don’t know is to ask questions. The best way to dig deeper and learn more is to ask question. And, we can ask people questions in person. But, we can also do so by email, text, and the various connection apps that are now available. When I can’t find someone to ask my questions of – I head to the internet, Siri, and my fairly extensive paper and electronic personal libraries…. Yes, back to books!

4> I file what I have learned.

People forget a lot of what they learn. If they want to recall it later, they can’t. Or, they can’t find it. So, when I read I mark the book up. I have symbols that tell me what to do with what I am reading – file in quotes, file in my very extensive Bible program, file in ‘ideas for a blog’ electronic file, and on the list goes. If it is an article then I photocopy it and file the paper copy… and more recently, I scan it into the computer and file it electronically. 

When it is something personal that is a new insight or understanding for my personal journey in life and with Jesus, I have a paper journal that I record the thought in. One thought or insight per page. This way, when I have further time to process the insight I can jot further related thoughts and what I am learning as I process below the original entry.

I file almost everything I find and learn so that I can always regain access to it quickly. 

5> I pass what I learn on to others.

Sharing something I learn reinforces growth and prompts me to make it my own. It also allows me to help others. On occasion, as I share with others, they add to my insight and thus I grow as I am helping others to grow. 

I encourage you to find your own ways to remain teachable and facilitate personal learning. It will open you up to amazing new possibilities. 

 

Mentoring – Part Eight

To note: Parts one to seven of this series were published in April, 2018. 

Most people today are interested in “me.” Their favourite topic is ”me.” And, they can change almost any conversation so that, in time, it is focused on “me.” Everyone is interested in his or her own deal … not anyone else’s. 

It is apparent that few people care about the life and well being of others unless it directly effects them personally. They simply are not interested in the details of another person’s life unless there is a benefit to them personally because they took the time to listen to the story.

Authentic mentoring, mentoring like Jesus did, involves selflessness. It says, “I’m going to give to you … put you first … let you learn from my life, my story, my victories, and my mistakes. And, I am expecting nothing in return.” In a sense a mentor is says, “I’ve paid the price to learn what I have learned. I’m going to give you the benefit of my experiences so that you can learn, grow, and mature and not have to pay the price that I paid.” This is what Jesus did for His disciples and even for each one of us. He paid the price and we benefited from it. 

Now, this whole idea flows up-stream in a down-stream world. In a world of “every person for themselves” this kind of selfless mentoring makes little sense to most people – people in the world and, obviously, in the Church as well. After all, if it made sense then more Christians would be discipling and mentoring others. 

But, don’t let that discourage you. Jump in and decide that you will disciple a next generation person and mentor them into maturity as a person and as a believer and follower of Jesus.

What will modelling selflessness as a mentor and disciple-maker look like in our day and age? To answer that question we need to look at how Jesus functioned with his band of twelve and the ways He showed or modelled selflessness and servanthood. A good read through the four gospels would be a good idea about now – noting how Jesus discipled and mentored the twelve. 

A few of my observations based on the life of Jesus…

A mentor needs to be selfless. And they need to have a drive to invest in the lives of those younger than they are. The “next generation.” Often this is called “pay it forward.” A serious God-call to mentoring calls the mentor to rise above selfish interests and towards the advancement of the Kingdom through disciple-making even when there is no visible return to them personally for the time and effort invested. True Selflessness. 

Jesus was the perfect example of a selfless person who invested in the lives of others mentoring the twelve disciples (apostles) for three years as He ministered publicly. 

The selflessness of a good mentor is obvious … seen in the following:

1> There is a willingness to invest time in others when there is no return on the investment for you personally, at least, nothing tangible. Mentoring is, in many ways, a one-way street … from mentor to mentoree. No payback. No quid pro quo. Just selfless giving. 

2> There is a willingness to listen – listen deeply from the heart. And to listen with no personal agenda, with nothing to gain or lose. Listen with only one agenda – pointing those you are mentoring to Jesus, who is their true, dependable mentor. A mentor can listen objectively and without the pressure of trying to impress, to be smart, to fix the problem or the person (they are not broken), or always to be right. 

A mentor is a good listener and doesn’t need to be constantly talking about themselves. Because they know who they are and are secure in themselves they are able to listen intently. Insecure people, who don’t have a firm grasp on who they are, talk more than listen as they are out to impress others with their knowledge and successes. A good mentor listens, asks questions, and then tailors their answers – their teaching and sharing – to the issues being spoken of by the mentoree. 

Thus, the selfless mentor is a good listener, dispensing their wisdom to meet the needs of their mentorees, not their need to tell all that they know. 

3> A mentor, after listening, asks lots of questions geared to what has just been shared. Jesus asked questions … lots of questions, and He listened. He didn’t just talk. On those few occasions when He did, He was intentional about it. It was almost like, “Okay fellows, get your pens and write this down”… and then He spoke the Sermon on the Mount. But many, if not most, of His parables came as answers to questions. 

Jesus tailored His message … His answer … to the needs of the asker. He didn’t just blabber on and on with what he knew.

4> There is a focus on one goal – a goal that does not benefit the mentor directly or personally. Jesus, the world’s greatest mentor, did a lot of His mentoring for “the cause.” The was totally about His Father’s business, demonstrating the nature of God and preparing His mentorees for the task of taking the story of God to the world and to future generations. 

5> A mentor is very secure in who they are and what they have accomplished in life. Because they are secure and know who they are they want their mentorees to do bigger and greater things than they have ever managed to accomplish. And, when they do, the mentor can rejoice with them. 

So, mentoring is not about you – it is about others…

Your motivation in mentoring others has to be to encourage and equip younger people to become more godly and healthy, mature disciples who will then “pass it forward” by discipling and mentoring others. 

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.