Today I am off to Africa to spend time with fellow leaders committed to equipping this generation to be disciples who make disciples. As I prepare to go, I am reminded of how important it is to have a ‘life on life’ mentoring relationship with someone else.
We do not disciple the masses; neither did Jesus.
He taught the crowds, he fed the crowds, he even astonished the crowds with his supernatural power. But very few people from those crowds received the dubious distinction of being called his disciples. These twelve disciples lived with their master day and night. The experiences they shared presented opportunities for learning and discipleship which no classroom or large group exercise could ever manufacture. They developed a ‘life on life’ relationship with Jesus which deeply impacted them. He modeled the behavior he wanted to see reproduced in their lives. They learned by observing his priorities, his compassion. In the end, they were not tested on their knowledge or skills, but on their behavior and whether it could be reproduced in others. Jesus made it clear, “You are my friends if you do what I command” (Jn 15:14). These disciples went on to make many more disciples forming a reproductive movement which established church communities all throughout the known world.
“Mentoring is a relational experience through which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources… a positive dynamic that enables people to develop potential” (see Connecting:The Mentoring Relationships You Need To Succeed in Life by Clinton and Stanley).
At MB Mission we call people out of the crowds into intense discipleship experiences. All of our short term mission programs facilitate “life on life” relationships for participants. They are mentored at a variety of levels. During the training, on outreach and after they return home.
Here’s what I learned from my mentoring relationship with Jean-Daniel (JD), a TREK participant from Montreal QC this past fall.
Mentoring requires intentional time.
There is no perfect mentoring relationship. I was not perfect. Sometimes we couldn’t even keep our once/week commitment. However, every intentional relationship can teach you something. Each time we met, we learned and grew.
Mentoring is critical especially at times when the growth curve is steep, like a discipleship training program.
Mentoring is a two-way relationship. I know I learned as much from JD as he did from me.
Mentoring brings correction.
Mentoring brings perspective.
Mentoring builds the church. As we disciple each other in the way of Jesus, we humbly affirm our dependance on each other. This is the church in action. How could the hope for the world be something so simple yet so ingenious?
JD says, “It’s a great and necessary challenge to share everything going on in our lives with others. There’s always the slight hesitation of saying everything, but when you realize the importance and the helps it brings, you have no choice to dive in.”