Mentoring: Good Enough for Jesus, Good Enough for Us - Dr. Jody Dean
When was the last time you took note of someone in your church and thought, "I see potential in that person to grow and to lead"?
Jesus moved through crowds of people every day. He not only noticed certain individuals; He called them. For example, He noticed Peter and Andrew casting their net into the lake, and He challenged them to follow Him. However, Jesus did more than call them to Him, He committed Himself to them. He said, "I will turn you into fishers of people" (NET, italics mine); "I will show you how to fish..." (NLT, italics mine).
Why He Did
Have you thought how long it took Jesus to "turn them" into fishers of people? It took the rest of His earthly ministry. Yet, He never gave up on his disciples. He kept on working with them, setting the example for them, often being up close and personal with them, teaching them to observe everything He had commanded.
So, why would Jesus-with ministry responsibilities like healing the sick and teaching crowds of listeners-be compelled to prioritize in his weekly "to-do list" the mentoring of a small group of men? Why would He take twelve regular guys and pour Himself into them? Because Jesus knew that's what it would take to transform the character of their hearts and hone the competencies of their ministry skills.
Why We Should
We as leaders in the Church need to realize and embrace how it will require an intentional investment of our time to help develop the character and competencies of those we lead. Certainly, the Holy Spirit is the ultimate Teacher. However, I believe we each have a role to play and a responsibility to fulfill-not only to bear fruit, but fruit "that will last" (Matthew 15:16b, NIV).
Each week you and I encounter in our churches people who could be mentored, if only someone would take time to invest in their lives. The question for us to ponder, then, is who are we intentionally mentoring? Who are we meeting with and encouraging, helping to take their lives and ministries to a new level of effectiveness and faith?
In spite of our busy schedules, leaders should seriously consider mentoring. Why? Because Jesus modeled for us that kind of intentional relationship with people throughout His ministry. He made a compelling charge in the closing words of the Gospel of Matthew. He said, "Go therefore and make disciples..." (Matthew 28:19, ESV). I don't know about you, but when He goes on to say in verse 20, "...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you..." that requires me to pause. Jesus was commissioning them to purposefully pass on to others what He had taught to them. Jesus knew that future followers wouldn't have the luxury of watching Him up close and personal, the way those disciples did.
Thus, I believe Jesus was telling them to go and mentor other disciples. You see, discipleship multiplication starts with one person building a teaching and accountability relationship with another. That is the essence of true mentoring.
Paul modeled this type of relationship by being a mentor throughout his letters to churches and individuals. Acts records how "Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy...Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him" (Acts 16:1, 3, ESV). Paul and Timothy had a specific mentoring relationship to expand the leadership in the Church. Later in a letter to Timothy Paul challenges him to multiply himself: "and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2, ESV).
From Where I Stand
I can speak first-hand of the need for mentoring-both in my own life and in the lives of those I teach in our seminary. I've had a mentor for several years. This person has helped me understand what Paul meant in Philippians when he shared, "Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us" (Philippians 3:17, ESV). I was able in my formative years to imitate a minister in our local church-a worship leader, in fact. He invited me to invest time with him and a few other guys. We studied the Bible together, talked about our relationships with Christ, and reached out to others with the Gospel.
Such an opportunity as this was an interesting new concept for me. The idea that I could get one-on-one training outside my church's weekly set schedule-I'd never seen that before. The mentoring group I was involved in went a step further than anything I'd ever participated in with a church program. Discipleship through a focused group of guys who wanted to grow as I did made an impact on my journey with the Lord that I will never forget. I stand today as a stronger follower and minister of Christ because someone saw potential in me and took time to mentor me. For that I will be forever grateful.
In the Christian Education courses I teach, I can usually pick out those students who've had mentors in their lives. They're often more confident in their callings, more grounded in their faith, and sharper in their abilities. That's another reason I try to make time outside the classroom to encourage my students and mentor a few of the guys. Funny thing is, as I teach them, they also teach me. That's how a mentoring relationship should work!
Worth the Effort!
Mentoring people is never easy. The specific goals of mentoring will be different with each person-no cookie cutter solutions. Some people will grow at a slower pace than others. Each mentoring strategy will need to be fluid and flexible, to adjust to unforeseen events in people's lives. The starting points and needs for training people are many and the process can seem complicated at times. Thankfully, based on his calling of Andrew and Peter, Jesus has given us a simple model to follow regarding potential "mentorees": Take note of them, challenge them, and then invest our lives into training them.
I'm amazed by what God has accomplished through some men and women who took precious time to mentor Christian leaders of our generation-mentors like mine and perhaps like yours. And to think, it all started with a few ordinary men in the New Testament, who took His extraordinarily Great Commission seriously.
About This Series:
The articles in this Building Strong Worship Leaders series are written by church leaders committed to intentionally training people about worship. Their churches are reaping the benefits-and they gladly pass on ideas and suggestions of how your church can too! This series is presented by Pastors.com, in partnership with Next Level Worship, a ministry providing quality worship discipleship resources to churches. Go to http://www.NextLevelWorship.com to register for free coaching webinars for the Pastors.com community.
About Jody Dean
Dr. Jody Dean currently serves as an Assistant Professor for Christian Education at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Prior to serving as a seminary professor he ministered through various associate pastor roles of education, discipleship, students and children through the local church. His ministry experience covered various size congregations in Southern Baptist Churches. Jody earned his two masters and Ph.D. in Christian Education from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. His wife, Emily, shares the passion for teaching and they have two children Lydia and James Robert.
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