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.

Mentoring – Part One

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.