Life is hard. It can be overwhelming, confusing, even a little scary once in a while. It’s good when you have people who can come along side you to help navigate the waters sometimes. It’s nice to know that others have been in this same boat on these same choppy waters and have lived to tell the tale. These are the people we want on our side when the storms rage or when we just need a bit of encouragement.
This is what mentoring is all about.
I have had the benefit of being mentored by some awesome people over the years. These men and women invested time and interest in me and in my success and well being. They taught me some of the best lessons I’ve ever learned. Sometimes, these were uncomfortable truths that I needed to grasp but wasn’t getting to any other way. I appreciate these people more than they will ever know. It is partly because of them, I think, that I love being a mentor to others. Having the opportunity to invest in the growth and success of another person is a tremendous privilege. It is something I take very seriously, so much so that I have spent a good amount of time and energy studying and seeking to improve my own mentoring skills. I want to be sure that I am providing my best to those I wish to guide.
Of all of the books, TED Talks, seminars, webinars, and conferences I’ve experienced, the best example of mentoring I have ever found is Jesus Christ. He is the greatest Mentor, ever. It is no coincidence that one synonym for mentor is “shepherd”.
There are some specific things that we can borrow from Him and incorporate into our own mentoring style that will make us more effective and impactful in helping to develop and encourage others in any mentor/mentee setting.
7 Mentoring Skills of Jesus:
1) He Was Purpose Driven:
Jesus knew His mission. He was laser focused on achieving it. He came to walk among men to seek and to save that which was lost. Everything He said and everything He did characterized that mission. He entered into a dying, hopeless world and intended to leave behind Him a world of people filled with life and hope. Because He was mission focused, He was not swayed and did not wander or waiver. He was intentional and purposeful in how He spent His time.
2) He Was People Focused:
He carried out His mission by interacting and engaging with the very people who were dying and hopeless. He talked with them and listened to them. He ate in their homes and fed them in the fields. He celebrated when they celebrated and mourned when they mourned. He didn’t leave it at that, though. All along the way, He gave them back their hope. He loved them and healed them and gave them life. He served them to the very point of dying. His mission was, and continues to be, the people.
3) He Chose His Team Carefully:
Jesus knew that His time in this place was limited. In order to effectively accomplish His mission, He had to prepare others to carry on in the work after He left. He was very particular about the people He called. He was surrounded by throngs of people, He chose for His circle only a few. He chose carefully, His invitation was simple. He promised to make some fishermen into Fishers of Men, and Andrew, Peter, James, and John followed. He called a man sitting under a tree whom He said was without guile, and Nathanael accepted. He called a tax collector and a religious zealot and Matthew and Simon joined Him. He called twelve and twelve followed. Each one of these who went along with Jesus would be transformed by their work with Him and would then be part of the most life changing mission, ever.
4) He Invested Himself In Them:
Once He had His team, Jesus started pouring Himself into them. They spent a lot of time together. They traveled and ate and talked together. He shared with them the vision about the mission and of the coming Kingdom. He showed them how to pray and how to heal and how to live. He taught them how to raise the dead. He prayed for them, died for them, and after three days, came back to life for them. He gave them, literally, everything He had to give.
5) He Prepared Them:
During all of this work with His team, He was making them ready to do their part and to go off in their own way to continue the mission. He warned them about the hardships. He promised to send a Helper who would be with them after He was gone. He told them that one would betray Him and one would deny Him, but that was part of the mission. He showed them things to come that they could not have imagined before He had called them. At the proper time, He completed His work on earth and went to the cross, where He suffered and died. But then , just as He promised, He rose from the grave, alive.
6) He Sent Them To Complete The Work:
When He returned from the grave, leaving death and hell destroyed, Jesus rejoined these disciples of His for some final instructions before it was time for Him to go back to the Father. He let them know that they were ready to do the work they were called to do. He promised them that they would be able to perform greater things than He had done. He gave them His blessing and told them to go. He sent them to the far reaches of the earth to carry out the mission they had been preparing for. He got them ready, then sent them packing, to share the Good News with all the world.
7) He Is Still Available:
Even after He returned to the heavenly places to wait with His Father, God, Jesus remains available and vigilant for His people. He intercedes with God on their behalf. He sent His Holy Spirit to be with them as a guide and helper. He is preparing a place for all of His people so they can be where He is. He told His disciples to stay connected to Him like branches to a vine. Even though He sent them to the ends of the earth, He remains available to listen and encourage and guide always.
If we have chosen to follow Christ, we, too, are His people. He freely offers these same things to us. We have been sent on this same mission. We have this same responsibility. We should take these lessons as we go to the ends of the earth making disciples of all nations. If we do these things, if we pour ourselves out into others as Jesus has, we will be partners in changing lives. In doing this, we may just change the world. After all, that is what real mentoring is all about.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit….
John 15: 1-5a, NIV