When someone asks me to disciple them or mentor them (and there is a difference) I ask questions and observe their lifestyle before answering. I want to know if they are “hungry to learn.” If they are not hungry to learn then they are not serious about being discipled or mentored. Someone once wrote, “Strong, deeply rooted desire is the seating point of all achievement.” I would add, ‘and all change and growth.’
Much of what people accomplish in their lives is based more on how much they want it than on how easy it was to get. Hope says, “There must be a way,” while hunger says, “I will make a way.” People with hope are many; people with true hunger are few. I want to disciple and/or mentor the few and so not waste my time on the many.
If you have to talk the person into being helped or convince him or her to follow through on your advice, that may not be someone you should be investing in. They are not hungry to grow, change, and learn. Your time on the earth is limited and there are three things you can do with your time – waste it, spend it, or invest it. I choose to do the latter and thus look for people who are hungry to learn and willing to apply what they are learning to their life skas to change and grow.
So, I look to see if they value personal growth and development. Do they demonstrate a lifestyle of learning? Are they reading (or listening to) books on a regular basis. When we meet for coffee are they asking questions that enable them to draw information and knowledge out of me in the areas where I am knowledgable and work on a regular basis? Are they attentive to the conversation and leaning into it to learn al that they can? Are they asking questions that arise out of what they are reading or from previous conversations you have recently had?
More than hungry for new information and deeper understanding of practical matters – are they wanting to change personally? In other words, are they applying the wisdom and understanding that they are gaining from you as the mentor or disciple maker and making obvious changes in their lifestyle and their approach to life?
If you meet with them on a regular basis and they are continually talking about the same issues – medical, relational, work related, feelings, thoughts – then they are not hungry to learn. If the coffee conversations are not moving forward and progress in these “life” areas is not visible and evident there is no real hunger to learn. Talk, yes! Coffee with you, yes! But learn and grow, no.
If you are giving advice and sharing the wisdom and knowledge that you have gained through life experiences and study and they are not actively applying what you share and thus are changing, then that person is not hungry to learn, grow, and change. You are not making a good use of your limited available time.
A special thing to note: If they are coming to “tell you” what they are doing, what God has spoken to them recently, their plans, their ministry … and are not “asking questions” then you have a time of social fellowship and not mentoring. They may be looking for your approval but they are certainly not hungry to grow and change. If they come with questions arising out of previous meetings, a recent life experience, or what they are reading then this is an indication that they are truly hungry to learn and worthy of your time and effort – your investment in their life.
All believers should be ‘hungry to learn.’ But, those who come to you asking for you to invest your time and expertise in them must demonstrate that they truly are hungry to learn.