Jesus made his leadership style clear: “If anyone will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24-26 NIV). Then Jesus cut our marching orders, saying, “Go . . . teach . . . baptize . . . [then] teach them to observe all I have commanded you.” For Jesus, mentoring is not about mere information; it is about spiritual formation, leading to transformation.
Jesus shared his life with those he mentored and equipped.
- They had frequent and long term contact with Jesus.
- They shared a warm and loving relationship with Jesus.
- They were exposed to the emotions of Jesus.
- They saw Jesus with both problem people and possibility people.
- They saw Jesus in a variety of settings.
- Jesus also “graduated them” and sent them out on his mission.
As Jesus leads out, he charges us to follow on. “Go bring people to Christ–and then ‘apprentice them’ in the Christ life!”
Paul, the apostle, picked up on Jesus’s mentoring model. He coached new Christians. “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice” (Philippians 4:9). And Paul passed the torch to all generations of Christian leaders, “. . . the things you have heard me say, entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).
Finally, Paul painted the bull’s-eye on God’s job description for mature church leaders. “Equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:11-12).
And, as John Maxwell says, “A success without a successor is a failure.”
Some Next Steps for You:
- The best mentoring is “organic,” meaning personal and relational rather than institutional, as in a “church program.”
- Do not attempt to impose your “mentoring” onto another person. Your mentoring will work best if it is at their invitation. So, intentionally build relationships that place you where people can easily and naturally turn to you when they are ready.
- Make yourself available to people in your orbit, people who you already know.
- Begin now praying that God will give you the eyes to see possible mentees. Watch for persons you have some affinity with (similar gifts and interest). Watch for persons with “teachable spirits,” not the ones who “know all the answers.”
- Do not add “another item to your busy schedule.” As a potential mentoring relationship develops naturally, you will not need to “add it.” It will already be there in the ordinary rhythms of your life and theirs.
- Resist the temptation to be controlling. Outcomes are in God’s hands, not yours. Rather, listen to each person and be transparent with him or her. God may be shaping that “mentee” into something different from what you have in mind.