Encouragement, leadership, mentoring, purpose

7 Mentoring Skills I Learned From Jesus

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



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The One Way Street

Respect is a two way street.

We’ve all heard that before.

There’s a good chance most of us have said it before.

If we really think about it, though, this only comes to mind when we want to give ourselves an excuse for disrespecting someone we feel has first disrespected us. We too quickly take any perceived slight as an open invitation to lash out or hold a grudge against the offender. We speak harshly to them or give them the cold shoulder. We grumble and gossip about them and all the while feel justified because they treated us badly. In our all consuming feelings of insult, we may take to social media to extol our victimhood and show the world how we have been so shabbily treated. This would probably be about the time we end up telling anyone who will listen that, “Respect is a two way street, you know.”

The problem here is that this statement is wrong.

Respect is not a two way street. Sometimes, respect is a one way street with no jay walking allowed.

If we only respect those people who respect us, what have we done? What has made us different from the rest of the world? Where is Jesus in that? The answers to these questions are…nothing and nowhere.

Here’s a news flash: Jesus never asked for respect. Honestly, since He knew ahead of time what His mission was, that means He also knew ahead of time that He would not get respect. He came to this earth, on purpose, to be disrespected. He came to save the world with His life. If anyone, ever, had the right to feel victimized, it was surely Jesus. He gave up EVERYTHING for the very people who spit on Him, beat Him, and murdered Him. He did this for me and you and everyone else on earth. He didn’t do it for respect and He never played the victim.

If He never told us to respect Him, what did He tell us to do?

He told us to love one another. He told us to love God. He asked us to feed His sheep. He didn’t tell us to retaliate or hate or destroy. I’m pretty sure He doesn’t approve of us taking to Facebook to bash someone who spoke rudely to us.

He asked us to go. He told us to go to the ends of the earth to share the Good News with all the world. That includes the place where we are right now. Wherever we find ourselves as leaders, we are to share the Good News, both by our words and our deeds. As leaders, it is not alright to only respect those who respect us first, and then only for as long as they never slight us. We are to respect everyone, always, in every situation. That doesn’t mean I can’t call you out if you’ve done something wrong. Jesus did that. It does mean, though, that I must do it professionally and respectfully. I can look someone in the eye and tell them that they are not meeting the expectation of the job without being mean or hateful or aggressive. This may be really hard sometimes, but not so much if you consider the disrespect our souls cost Jesus on the cross.

Oh, and one more thing Jesus did say.

He told us to turn the other cheek.

Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.”

John 15:20-21, NIV

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Lead With Diligence

If you will lead, then do so with diligence.

Diligence is defined as steady, earnest effort.

The greatest leaders are passionate, engaged, and involved. They inspire their people to be the best they can be. Lackluster performance or a lazy attitude will sink any effort to achieve excellence. Your team will see through this faster than light through glass. The members of any team feed off the energy, or lack of energy, of the leader. If you expect your team to perform to high standards, you must perform your position with that same excellence that you expect. A lazy leader cannot achieve the best results. I often refer to these types of leaders as Cruise Directors, though I don’t mean that literally. I’m sure there are scads of awesome, passionate, engaged cruise directors out in the world. I am only referring to the look and feel of this type of leadership. I’m talking about the kind of person who moves through the workplace carrying a cup of coffee while directing the work of the employees. Pointing out more work for them to do with your coffee cup is demeaning to them. It is insulting and only undermines the morale of the team members. This is not engaging, it’s bossy.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Expecting the best of the team while performing to the bare minimum, personally, reflects a lack of integrity. Do not presume to tell someone to work harder while you sit in an office somewhere browsing Facebook or surfing the web. The people see what you are doing. They know what you are about. These leaders will struggle to maintain the respect and support of the team. Once you lose respect, you’ve lost the ability and freedom to lead. The loss of respect is almost always fatal to your personal brand.

Do As I Do

I will say, again, if you will lead, do so with diligence. Be at work on time. Study to stay ahead of your competitors, processes, procedures, or projects. Be prepared. Be respectful. Strive for excellence. Use your work time for work. Keep a positive attitude. Lead with passion. Feed your team the energy and drive to win.

Play your position to the best of your ability and expect those you lead to do the same.

For by the grace given me, I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you….We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us, If your gift … is to lead, do it diligently.

Romans 12:3, 6a, 8b