“Today young leaders search desperately for models they can imitate and look up to. Today’s leaders live when heroes have flaws and fail and when dreams have died. When religious systems are corrupt and modern ministry does not offer a mentoring model, young leaders may end up following wrong models. Without spiritual fathers, the Church cannot achieve its ultimate destiny.” Frank Damazio
Has anyone ever told you in the midst of challenges and making important decisions to just “Go for it!” Every one of us needs this type of encouragement. Recently we had a Missionary Training Camp. It was a great experience to be able to share with those who are beginning to launch out into missions. For some it was soon and for others it was further in the distance. It was great to be together for several days, because a key to mentorship is “togetherness”. Jesus chose twelve men “that they might be with Him (Mark 3:14)”. It takes place as people share vision, model truth in life, build trusting relationships, share life experiences and work in teams.
This is what the Missionary Training Camp was like. It was great to be involved in mentoring others for missions. Mentoring is what we all long for and what we all need to be involved in personally. We notice that everyone needs encouragement to step out by faith and “Go for it!” Everyone needs someone to say, “Go for your dream.” “Go for your vision.” “Go for what God has laid on your heart!” If God has laid missions on your heart, we encourage you to “Go for it!” And in the midst of moving towards your destiny, learn some skills in the art of mentoring others.
Mentoring is not having all the answers. You don’t have to be perfect or have life all figured out. None of us would probably qualify in that case. Mentoring is listening, affirming, suggesting, sharing, and praying together. The mentoring pattern is where someone in need finds someone further along in experience with something to contribute. The requirements are spiritual maturity and missionary experience greater than the one we are mentoring. Everybody needs coaches, and everybody ought to be able to coach someone in something. Mentoring takes place when a living person whose life or ministry is used as an example indirectly imparts skills, principles and values that empower another person. At the end of our Missionary Training Camps, we pray for each individual. We believe this time of prayer along with the Camp imparts and empowers each one toward their destiny in missions. See www.elijahcompany.org for more information.
Every missionary candidate needs upward mentoring from someone who has gone before and can give direction and perspective. The mentor provides perspective, accountability and the stimulus to persevere. We desperately need this. Life is too hard to manage on our own when we enter the mission field. We want to attach ourselves to someone who is further along. Each one of us deeply wants empowerment in our calling so that we may do what God has designed us for. And each of us should look for others to mentor as well.
As you begin to think about mentoring others, there are some important qualities to look for in a mentoring relationship. Candidates for mentorship should exhibit the qualities of being teachable, flexible, humble, zealous and faithful. Candidates should know how to walk in unity and understand relational togetherness. Pray for these qualities in your own life and in the life of those you want to mentor. The apostles had these qualities. Those called to be apostolic (as being sent) in Biblical days were together with the apostles such as Peter and Mark, Barnabas and Saul, Paul and Silas, Paul and Mark, etc. The Holy Spirit uses as mentors those whom He has already developed in specific ministries to develop others in the same. As we thought about this we came to realize that ECI does not have to duplicate what the local church should already be doing. Instead we aim to accentuate the ministry of local churches in a given area by adding to their discipleship the needed component of mission.
Mentoring involves the heart. According to Proverbs 4:23, “Out of the heart flows the issues of life.” The word “disciple” is not mentioned after the book of Acts. Therefore, how did the church obey the Great Commission? When the twelve turned into thousands, these new converts sat at the feet of the apostles and had church in homes. So the actual transference of Christ’s life came through the teaching of the apostles and the life of the Holy Spirit in the body of believers. The Holy Spirit was now able to do in all believers what Jesus could only do with the twelve.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common… They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-44, 46-47)
The Importance of Mentorship
“No planned course of instruction, no classroom syllabus. Instead, He called His disciples to be with Him. Truth was not taught in abstract doctrines or regulations; it was caught in the experience of their shared life.”
We may ask ourselves, “Why is mentoring so important?” God is presently raising up fathers and mothers to mentor the upcoming younger generation and empower them for service. Here are three important reasons why each of us should be involved in a mentoring relationship.
- It is Christ-like – The model of mentorship is seen with Jesus and the twelve. Mark writes, “Jesus chose twelve men that they might be with Him.” (Mark 3:14)
- It is proven – Encourage missionaries to get mentoring or coaching before they go out. There is absolutely no comparison in the results. Jay Moon, a missionary who planted over 24 churches in an African country was asked why he was so successful. His response was, “I was mentored by a senior missionary when I arrived.”
- It is life transference – In the modern world and especially the West, there is an abundance of discipleship material, but the component of walking hand-in-hand with new missionaries is missing. How does one learn prayer in a classroom? How does one get a degree in faith? How does one practice love for the unlovable when surrounded by friends? How does one learn perseverance by reading a book? “Jesus did not go about establishing an academy, He went about establishing a fellowship; He first majored on making friends and only later on sending out apostles.” R. E. Coleman
“The Biblical way is on the job mentoring.” George Patterson
There are many different ways we can mentor others. Mentoring is not done in just one way. You may prefer some of these ways above others. Find your own style of mentoring, and seek to be involved in the various mentoring types as well.
- Discipler – Enables in the basics of following Christ.
- Spiritual Guide – Accountability, direction and insights for questions, commitment and decisions affecting spirituality and maturity.
- Coach – Motivation, skills and application needed to meet a task or a challenge.
- Counselor – Gives timely advice and correct perspectives on viewing self, others, circumstances and ministry overseas.
- Teacher – Knowledge and understanding of a particular subject.
- Sponsor – Career guidance and protection as leader moves within an organization.
- Model – A living, personal model for life, ministry or profession who is not only an example but also inspires following.
- Historical – A past life that teaches dynamic principles for life ministry or profession.
The Apostle Paul is a tremendous example of one who mentored and fathers other believers. He is one who put such a high regard and priority on mentoring. This is what he said to the church in Thessalonica, and this is what we desire in our lives:
“As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who called you into his kingdom and glory.” I Thessalonians 2:6-12
For additional training for missions, read the book called Go Forth in Power by Norman and Debbie Przybylski.