Below, you will find an excerpt from a book for prospective preachers I'm working on. It's titled, "So you think you're called." This section is on the subject of the lost art of mentoring. Is it Biblical? Do we need a mentor? Should we be a mentor?
I pray it's a blessing to you. I would also love to have your feedback on it. Feel free to comment. God bless!
First of all, let's clear something up: EVERYONE needs a mentor. Jesus mentored the disciples (who became the apostles). The Apostles mentored new converts. Paul was mentored by Barnabus. Paul, in turn, mentored many, including Timothy, Titus, Silas, etc.
I realize that our western culture speaks much about being independent. From Sanatra's “I did it my way” to modern songs that say things like, “I'm just doing me,” our culture is obsessed with doing things our own way. However, our culture and God's culture are not the same thing.
Jesus came preaching the “gospel of the kingdom.” A kingdom has a king. Jesus is that king. Our culture says we have a choice as to what laws we pick and choose to follow. In God's kingdom, we don't have that freedom. Jesus said in Luke 6:46, “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?” Lord, in the Greek, means “supreme controller.” Jesus is supposed to be both our savior AND our Lord. If he is not our Lord, then he cannot be our savior. This means we must follow and obey him in every area of our lives.
This is a huge departure from our western culture's mindset. That's why we are commanded to “make disciples of every man.” ( ) Since we are not raised in a kingdom, we need to be taught how to change our thinking from a democracy to a kingdom. This means, before we can make disciples, we must become a disciple. We must learn how the kingdom of God works. We must learn it's rules and functions. We must change our own culture to match the culture of God's kingdom. Then, we are qualified to make disciples.
The teacher/disciple relationship in the culture of Jesus' day was not the same as a teacher student relationship in today's society. Today's students go to a class and learn strictly information from a teacher. The focus of the class is the subject being taught- not the teachers themselves. Other than the information being shared, there's very little personal teaching going on. Teachers are interchangeable as long as the subject is being taught.
In the ancient Israeli culture, however- indeed, in the ancient world in general- it was not that way at all. The subject was definitely important, but what was more important was the teacher himself. He gained students because of who he was, his standing in the community, his area of expertise, and the knowledge and success he had in that particular life discipline. If he were successful, he didn't have to go looking for students. In fact, they came looking for him. He could only teach so many at a time, so he was very picky about who he taught. They had to be bright, attentive, of a good family, of good reputation, and willing to submit their lives to the “Rabbi” (teacher) for whatever he ordered them to do.
The accepted students were called his “disciples.” Why? It took discipline to follow a teacher. It took a total life commitment to follow a teacher. It wasn't a few hours a day, broken up into small classrooms and given in small doses. It was all day long, many hours a day, on the one subject at hand- six days a week (The Jewish culture took the Sabbath day off). A disciple could spend years learning from their master/teacher. Many times, the disciples were young men (usually unmarried) who were trying to learn a trade to prepare them for their future. Their training was a total and complete lifestyle change for them. They had to be completely dedicated to the task of learning their trade, or they would be thrown out of the training, ostracized, and risk becoming a beggar (or worse).
It was to this time period that the disciples (who were about to become apostles) belonged. It was to this mindset that Jesus spoke when he told them to “make disciples of all men.” Jesus had discipled them for 3 ½ years. He had spent nearly every day and night with them. He had totally changed their mindsets about life and religion. Now, right before they were to receive his spirit to empower them for the work he had been preparing them for, he tells them to go and do the same thing he did: disciple people.
For those people who made it through their training, a strong bond would remain between teacher and student, Rabbi and disciple. A bond that would last for the rest of their lives. It was purposely designed this way because the teacher was older, wiser, and more experienced. When the disciple finally branched out on their own, they carried the same practices of their teacher into their own lives. People familiar with their teacher could see the evidence of his teaching in their work and lives. They also knew that they still could go to their teacher with questions and find answers.
When Jesus told the Apostles to make disciples of men, he was saying, “ I have poured my life and heart into your lives for 3 ½ years. I have been with you in good times and bad. I have taught you day and night and helped you change your whole way of thinking. Now, you go and do the same in the lives of others.”
Jesus preached to and fed multitudes. He taught thousands. Yet, he only discipled twelve. These men (except for the one who betrayed him) would form the basis for his church. Even though they preached to thousands and performed miracles, there is evidence in the scriptures that they only mentored a few- so that they could mentor others.
Wait, brother Winskie. I thought we were talking about teachers and students. Now, you say mentor? That's what a biblical teacher truly is. A mentor. One of the biggest areas of lack in today's Churchianity is the lack of true teacher/mentors. There is no lack of people who like to be heard speaking to show others what they think they know. But, there is a decided lack of men who are willing to get involved in the lives of men (and women for women- see Titus 2), get their proverbial hands dirty, and raise up true disciples who will help mentor the next generation.
If you don't have a mentor, pray and ask God to lead you to one. If you can't find one, God will definitely be your mentor. But, make it up in your mind and heart that you are going to become a mentor for some other men. If you do, this will begin to heal part of the breach in the churches walls.
Become a disciple. Then, become a mentor. Some others out there need the wisdom, knowledge, and experience you will gain in the process.
Anybody can work and draw a paycheck. Anyone can teach a class, if they can learn the subject matter and learn how to speak understandably. But, it's a special man that will pour his life and knowledge into the lives of others. He may not make a lot of money, but the rewards are ever lasting and he will affect generations to come. The man who's in it for the paycheck will be forgotten. The man who truly mentors will be remembered for years to come.
Which one do you want to be?