Imagine watching, talking with, and walking with Jesus on a daily basis. Imagine seeing the dust on his face and the sweat on his brow. Imagine you are one of the 12 apostles, and the last two years you have spent learning from the greatest teacher ever.
Jesus is described mostly as a teacher in the Bible, but the word "mentor" is also a great way to describe Him. A mentor can be defined in different ways, but the best definition may be "a trusted counselor or guide" (Merriam-Webster).
Mentoring is important because it is an investment into another human being. It trains, corrects, and loves others. It balances grace in one hand and truth in the other. Simply put, mentoring follows in the footsteps of Jesus, and Scripture backs it up.
So, what exactly is mentoring? Here are five verbs through which Jesus sets an example of what mentoring should look like.
And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles. (Luke 6:13)
The first step of mentoring is identifying people to invest into. Jesus chose people who had a need, but he also chose people with potential. He saw talents and skills inside of the disciples that they hadn't yet seen themselves. He intentionally approached them and chose to invest into their lives.
He did not wait to invest into others until they sought him out. Instead, He actively searched for people that He could add value to, and you can do the same.
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. (Matthew 5:1)
In the same way, before you can add value to anyone, you must determine what it is you have to offer. Is it experience, wisdom, commitment? Clearly, Jesus had a purpose in his teaching, and he equipped his disciples with the necessary tools to succeed in their mission.
For anyone to do a good work, they must first be equipped. They must be trained and taught what it looks like to do something with excellence and integrity. If people are not equipped, then they will never have the courage or confidence to lead and make a difference.
After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. (John 3:22)
Jesus experienced the ups and downs with his disciples. He ate with them, walked with them, taught them, and had deep conversations with them. In other words, he spent intentional time with them.
Point blank, mentoring is experiencing life with other people. It is extending encouragement when times are tough, offering advice amidst indecision, and giving correction when things go wrong. As challenging as it can be, no person can truly know someone else without taking the journey with them.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:18-20)
Jesus identified, equipped, walked with, and then empowered his disciples to make a difference. He had prepared them to do good works. He didn't give them responsibility they didn't earn, and he didn't expect wisdom without His teaching. But when the right time came, he unleashed them to operate in their giftings.
In the same way, you must empower those that you are mentoring. If they make mistakes, you correct. If they have a success, rejoice. Always remember, empowering others is the key to truly making a difference in their life.
By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. (1 John 4:13)
Long term commitment to another person is the final step to mentoring. Sure the level of commitment may change, but the greatest mentors become a lifelong resource to rely upon in times of struggle, joy, and change.
Jesus provided an ultimate example of partnership by offering his Holy Spirit to guide and show the way. His physical presence may have left, but his spiritual guidance never will.
Mentoring is the key to sustainable change, and what you sow into others will be multiplied. Jesus invested everything he had into his disciples, and because of that they spread the good news all over the region. In the same way, you have been created for relationships and have the ability to make a profound difference in someone's life.
So if you're not doing it already, take the jump to identify, equip, walk, empower, and partner with someone who needs it. You have something of value to offer, and someone is waiting for you to give them the wings they need to reach their dreams.