We have a simple mission that’s not so simple to accomplish. We are called to make disciples. But in order to make disciples, we have to be disciples ourselves. How can we impart and train someone else when we are in need of growth, training, and maturing ourselves?
Jesus once said, “Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
Christianity is more than a religion, it’s a way of life.
The problem is we don't have (or have not developed) the relational support system needed to accomplish this way of life. We are like athletes in need of a coaching team but only have access to gym equipments.
We need coaches,
not just instructors
and great equipments.
“For even if you have ten thousand trainers in connection with the Messiah, you do not have many fathers; for in connection with the Messiah Yeshua it was I who became your father by means of the Good News. Therefore I urge you to imitate me.” - 1 Corinthians 4: 15-16 / CJB Version
The truth is, we are stuck.
We’ve been Christians for a long time but we find ourselves still need “milk” and spiritual “coddling”. We are unable and unwilling to live according to God’s ways, instead, we are still wanting to be inspired to follow God, invited to consider His ways, encouraged to stay the course. For many of us, spiritual disciplines should be a norm by now, giving and being hospitable a way of life, with disciples at our table for shared meals and life.
But this seems far off for many of us.
"In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." - Hebrews 5:12-14
That’s why we need a healthy relational network that can act as a “coaching team” for us to grow and mature in Christ. Below is an image of what a healthy relational network looks like.
“It is far easier to deal with people as problems to be solved than to have anything to do with them in community. If a person can be isolated from the family (from husband, from wife, from parents, from children, from neighbors) and then be professionally counseled, advised and guided without the complications of all of those relationships, things are very much simpler. But if such practices are engaged in systematically, they become an avoidance of community.” - Eugene Peterson
“There is so much emphasis on the capacity to perform that many leaders function in isolation, removing themselves from the greatest asset that will in fact enhance their character - i.e., others! . . . We believe that character may be tested in isolation but it is developed in relationships.” - Robert Clinton | The Making of a Leader
What do mentors do exactly?
Well, here are some basic functions of a mentor. Robert Clinton says it like this, “A discipler is one who spends much time, usually one-on-one, with an individual mentoree in order to build into that mentoree the basic habits of the Christian life. It is a relational experience in which a more experienced follower of Christ shares with a less experienced follower of Christ the commitment, understanding, and basic skills necessary to know and obey Jesus Christ as Lord.”
Some Mentor Functions
- Basic habits of Christian living.
- Basic skills usually related to doing ministry/job/life.
- Basic information that applies to the emerging leader’s situation.
- They gave tracts, letters, books or other literary information which broadened the perspective of the younger leader.
- Perspective and advice to meet situational and growth needs.
- Perspective on spiritual growth.
- They gave encouraging and timely advice.
- Model - Demonstrates values and skills for possible emulation.
- They modeled various aspects of ideal leadership functions with an expectation that challenged the younger leader to rise to that level of expectation.
- They took the younger leader with them and co-ministered together--giving on-the-job training as well as imparting a higher level of credibility, prestige, status, and confidence in the younger leader.
- Sponsor - watches over the mentorees development and makes sure doors are open for development to potential.
- They risked their own reputation in order to back the younger leader.
- They bridged between the younger leader and needed resources.
- They gave financially to demonstrate their concern for and to aid in furthering the training of the younger leader.
- They gave freedom to the emerging leader, releasing that leader into ministry and promoting that leader even if it meant the younger leader rising beyond the level of the mentor.
How to be a Disciple