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Practical Mentoring: Part 1 - Mentoring like the Master

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

This series is designed as a companion to my book, The Way of the Master: The Leader Development Methodology of Jesus. In the book, I lay out the framework for how Jesus used the rabbinic process of His day to develop leaders for His Kingdom movement, the Church. My focus is on understanding the "why" of His mentoring and employed methods. Through this series, I want to make what He did more accessible to us, focusing on how we can practically implement the way of the Master, Jesus. Accordingly, I have broken out some of the critical elements of mentoring to focus on practical steps to apply His method in our day and time. While this will look different from person to person and from place to place, I believe some commonalities to be universally applicable in mentoring others in the Body of Christ. My hope is to unpack these elements so that you can make the application in the context of your Kingdom assignment. If you haven't had the chance to read the book, I encourage you to do so, as it will give you a firm Scriptural foundation for mentoring in the Jesus way. I also would suggest that you look through earlier issues of this blog and check out the podcast, as there is a lot of content related to mentoring in both.

As we begin to look at the practical implementation of the Jesus mentoring method, let's keep two things firmly in mind. First, Jesus is the ultimate model for ministry. At the outset of His public ministry, this is what Jesus did – He called men to become His disciples. To follow Him, learn from Him, and ultimately, become a rabbi like Him.

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Matthew 4:18-22

We seek to emulate Jesus in our behavior, our way of life, and our pursuit of the Father. We pattern ourselves on Him – and appropriately so. Yet, when it comes to ministry practice, we often find ourselves far removed from what He did in making disciples. The pastors and leaders of a modern western church have all kinds of responsibilities that have little or no direct connection to mentoring others in Jesus' way. To be sure, many of these things are helpful and productive for the life of a local church, but some are an actual imposition that stands in the way of mentoring. If we accept Christ as the model for ministry, we must embrace mentoring. Many other things will need to be done, but mentoring must take priority. This then brings us to our first practical step in mentoring others – a personal evaluation, followed by an organizational assessment. Here are some questions to ponder:

  • What are the things that I do in life/ministry and on which I really don't need to be spending my time, talent, and treasure? How do I let them go?

  • Do I actually have some room in my life to invest in someone else through mentoring? What needs to change to make room for others?

  • Regarding the church in which I lead, what are the things that I do that stand in the way of mentoring others? What needs change?

Before you can start something new, you must end something old:

See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant. (Jeremiah 1:10)

Obstacles have to be removed before your new initiative of mentoring can emerge. This kind of pragmatic assessment and the actions you take in response is essential to making practical implementation of the Jesus way possible.

This brings us to the second thing we must keep firmly in mind: we don’t have a ministry; Jesus does. The work which we have been called to – the making of disciples of Christ – is something that He is actively doing through us. We often lose sight of this crucial fact, and when we do, we take improper ownership of the mission. Now, please don’t misunderstand; I think there is healthy ownership of the mission that we must embrace; we genuinely do have a responsibility to make disciples as Jesus has commissioned us to do (Matthew 28:19). But when we see it as our task instead of His, we begin to place our ideas, aspirations, and methodologies on His ministry through us. No longer is it Him working through us by the Holy Spirit, but us working in our own strength and abilities. Indeed, our ideas and methods get in the way. How dare we impose our methods on His mission! We must never forget to follow His example from John 5:19:

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.

We can do nothing independently, but we can only do what we see Him doing. And we must follow His rabbinic pattern. We are dependent on His Holy Spirit, and we must trust in the mentoring method of Jesus. This, too, requires some evaluation:

  • Have we truly embraced the ministry model of Jesus for HIS ministry through us?

  • What plans, programs or ideas have I implemented that are an obstacle to the work of Jesus? What needs to be plucked up, broken down, overthrown, and destroyed?

  • Have I cultivated a relationship with the Holy Spirit in such a way as to expect His guidance in my mentoring?

So, these reflection points are where we begin the practical work of utilizing mentoring in the Jesus way to make disciples. The first practical steps are to address the issues you identify in yourself and your church that inhibit the embrace of mentoring. Start here, start now. Then, reflect, pray and trust the Holy Spirit to show you what to do next!

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