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.