Our primary example for mentoring is Jesus. He spent the bulk of His ministry mentoring his twelve disciples, eleven of whom eventually mentored many more of their own disciples. His closing charge to his disciples (which Paul’s charge to Timothy is but an echo, 2 Timothy 2:2) is a charge to keep making disciples, and keep mentoring others:
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Jesus did not just tell his disciples to reproduce themselves, but had spent three years showing them how to reproduce disciples by living with them and pouring His life into them! Mentoring is usually a longer-term type of relationship that involves both the mentor intensely getting to know the person being mentored, and the “mentee” getting to know the mentor.
We see several key things that Jesus did in order to mentor his disciples.
- Jesus did not ask for volunteers; rather, He hand-picked his disciples. Also, Jesus did not decide who to invest Himself in without receiving direct wisdom and guidance from his Father in an all-night prayer time. In Luke 6:12-13 we read:
“One of the those days, Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles.”
- Mark’s account adds that Jesus “appointed twelve, that they might be with him, and that He might send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons” (Mark 3:14-15). The disciples were called first to “be with Him.” After three years living with Him, they witnessed how he lived, observed how He relied on the Spirit, and developed sound character. By the time Jesus ascended to Heaven, his disciples were prepared and empowered to do ministry in His power and with His love.
- The most important task of a mentor is to model how to live! “A student, when he is fully trained, will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). Jesus worked with his disciples so that they would do his work with his same Spirit of humility and love. (Cf. Luke 9:53-56; 10:19,20; Matthew 20:24-28). You will reproduce disciples who follow your example, so be wise in how your live!