(This post is re-blogged from my old page at tumblr.com).
At the risk of sounding cliché, I really do believe that Jesus Christ was the most perfect mentor. The relationships that he had with his disciples are ones we should attempt to cultivate with each and every person we mentor. So, the question begs to be asked: what made him such a great mentor? While we obviously can’t emulate everything he did- he was the Son of God, after all- we can learn from his process and try to utilize some of the same methods in our own mentoring. Let’s take a look at what we can learn from Jesus’ style of mentoring.
Sought Out Disciples: In Matthew 4:18-22, we see the story of the first disciples that Jesus called (Peter and Andrew). Jesus didn’t send an email asking if the young men would like to follow him, and he certainly didn’t give an open-ended challenge at the end of a sermon. Instead, he went to the place where these two men were working, and asked them to follow him. In the same way, we can’t expect our disciples to come to us and ask us to be their mentors. It is our job as the mentor to find those people that need strong discipleship in their life, and then call them to discipleship.
Gave a Vision: In the same passage from Matthew, Jesus gives Peter and Andrew a vision for what they will be doing by following this rabbi: instead of remaining fishers for the rest of their life, they will become “fishers of men.” Although they probably didn’t understand completely what he was talking about, the vision was still planned. As we begin a mentoring relationship, creating a vision at the start could be one of the most beneficial things we do for our disciples.
Caring: In Mark 1:29-34, Jesus takes time out of his day in Galilee to visit Peter’s mother-in-law, who is sick in bed with a fever. The fact that he took the time to care for the needs of one of his disciples shows his attentiveness to their issues. In much the same way, while we are in conversations with our disciples, if we realize there is a need that we can help meet, doing so can bring in a deeper level of trust.
Experiential Learning: There are many times the Gospels give us a long sermon of Jesus, in which he speaks to huge crowds of people. Other times, he teaches his disciples by forcing them to learn-by-doing. At the feeding of the five thousand, as recorded in John 6:1-13, the disciples tell Jesus that he should send all of the people home so they may eat. Instead of lecturing on God’s providence, Jesus shows his providence by giving the disciples the task of collecting the bread. Especially when mentoring somebody on a certain subject, we can do him or her a great service by doing activities with them, instead of simply discussing the subject.
Takes Time to Refill: Immediately after the feeding of the 5000, John 6:14-15 says that Jesus “withdrew again to a mountain by himself,” an action he repeated several times throughout his ministry, and one we should replicate as well. Taking time in solitude to reconnect with God can make all the difference, especially since we are reliant on the Holy Spirit to mentor.
Shared Meals: Although the Last Supper isn’t the only meal that Jesus shares with his disciples, it does emphasize the importance of time spent together with our disciples. Sharing a meal was a much more important custom in Jesus’ day, but it still holds significant relational weight, and should be regarded as such. We should try to make it a regular occasion to share meals together with our disciple.
Sends Them Out: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) This passage is the statement he leaves the disciples with, and boy is it a powerful one! He sends them out to continue discipling others like he discipled them. Ultimately, any mentor we have had was simply following this passage, meaning that all spiritual mentors can be traced back to the Perfect Mentor himself. In regards to our disciples, sending them out with a challenge like this is vitally important. We shouldn’t let our mentoring relationships fizzle and die, but let them end with a bang, like sending them out to mentor somebody else!
Taken from the book “Local Church Education” by Patrick Fischl. Used by permission.