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.