We need to disciple/mentor those whom the Lord Jesus would have us to. Therefore we need to seek the Lord as to whom He wants us to disciple/mentor and then how He wants this person to be mentored. It is then that we can begin this process with the confidence of His blessing and provision. We may and most likely will, stumble around at first. We may make it too academic and not enough of a relational experience. We may, depending on who we are, go the other way and want to make it so relational that we fail to hold our mentoree accountable and disciplined along the way. Regardless, if we will obediently give ourselves to this wonderful, albeit sometimes very trying process, we will discover the wonderful fruit of it; the joys of watching those entrusted to us, growing up into their role within their own lives, families and the Body of Christ Jesus at large. We will also have the wonderful hope of building a relationship for life.
Mentoring is individually accomplished and therefore must be individually shaped. I do not engage this process the same for each person. Discipleship/mentoring must be tailored to the person and purpose for which we are committing ourselves to this personal process. For example, teaching/training my grandson is not the same as teaching/training one for a ministry role within the church. There are of necessity, differences of focus and structure, albeit there are also many over laps. My point here is that discipleship/mentoring can not simply be rubber stamped as in a production line. It is individual and therefore must be geared to the individual needs, circumstances and goals identified. Plus, the real question here is, “what are you, Lord Jesus, saying about this person and your will concerning their training and equipping?” Therefore, we must have some sense of the equipping needs of the one whom you are going to give ourselves to over the next several years. Yes, I said years, not a few months, weeks or weekend seminars. Genuine discipleship/mentoring, if you haven’t gathered this already, is a strongly relational process. You will need to spend time with the one whom we are teaching and training over time. Our investment must just enough, but not over doing it thus creating a misplaced dependency or too little creating a prideful independence, etc.
Therefore this process requires a lot of prayer, support, encouragement, accountability, looking ahead, planning ahead, praying ahead and overseeing their progress, as well as knowing what books, if any, to give them, having read them first of course and knowing how to hold them accountable for the work we are asking them to do. We will need to discern their hearts, gifting, motivations, foolishness and idealism, with each person, over time. This is a very personal and spiritual investment into their lives, at most every level of their lives. Therefore, we must learn how to do this righteously before the Lord Jesus and each other.
If they are married, then it may mean that we will have involvement there as well. We are not just training a person in this case, we are impacting a marriage, a family. The wife must be on board from the very beginning as to the commitment level for her herself, her husband and family. We will need to see that she gets whatever help she needs, if at all possible. We need healthy leaders, with healthy marriages and family relationships, not just academically knowledgeable ones, insensitive to their most vital relationships. We must be aware and carefully sensitive to this additional aspect of our relationship, teaching and training of those whom we are discipling/mentoring.
Mentoring is as much about their hearts before the Lord as it is about the pursuit of understanding. The more involved this process is and the longer we work with them over time, the more we will need to be able in the Lord, to discern the hearts, motivations, thinking processes or thinking strongholds, and abilities; like what their limitations are as well as their strengths. We will need to learn how to temper accountability and discipline with encouragement, comfort and consolation. We will need, before the Lord Jesus, to know when to back off a little or push a little harder, or simply just wait and give them the time and space that they need, etc. Our expectations cannot be so high as to tear down and dishearten them or so low as to puff them up. There is an issue of tension that must be met.
Mentoring is in some very real ways fluid and not always so concrete. We will have to die on our own crosses to make this work with each person. We are dealing with those who are not ourselves. They don’t necessarily think like us, see things as we do or would, and certainly do not necessarily have our life experiences to draw upon. We will need to impart to them the wisdom of our experiences, our successes and failures in light of who they are, or are not. We will need to learn how to become real with them, for this whole process is about teaching and preparing them to be and do better than we are or have done. We will need to discern the various stages of development and growth in each one of their lives.
It is also about coming under them and lifting them up so that, in time and seasoning they will do it better than us or at least, this must be our heart. Mentoring isn’t about saving face or self preservation. It is about sacrifice and about accumulative knowledge and experience in the things of God, His Heart, His teachings, His Spirit, His Church, His Gifts, His Workings, His Will, Word and Ways being passed on to the next generation within the families of the Body of Christ Jesus.
It is my conviction that genuine godly discipleship/mentoring can produce better believers and therefore better marriages, families and leadership overall. We would in time, have those who would relationally be tied into seasoned and older believers, elders, couples, etc. We would also have believers who, by the mercy and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, know that the one who discipled/mentored them will be there for them along their path in life so that they won’t have to walk this path of life in the Lord Jesus Christ, alone. Someone whom they have learned to trust, respect and be real with, genuine and vulnerable before; someone who will unconditionally love them, remain available to them, accept them, counsel them, continue praying for and lifting them up before the Lord Jesus Christ and willingly giving them a swift kick, or a soft shoulder when and if they need it.
There is so very much more about this process that could and possibly even should be covered here, but for now, we cannot. What is most important, is simply come to embrace the call to authentic discipleship/mentorship, the personal training and equipping of others for living an authentic life in the Lord Jesus Christ. When we genuinely embrace our roles as true Fathers/Mothers in the faith, we will, in a more complete manner, be fulfilling each of our callings in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is how and what Jesus did. This is how and what the Apostles did. This is how and what the early church fathers seemed to do. Therefore, it is how and what we must be and do in kind.