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…