Where are the mentors? We want to believe that genius and skill are natural, but the truth is that they are dependent on discipline and training far more than on raw talent alone. Any of us who admire an elegant surgeon or an astute clinician or a sensitive counselor will instinctively agree that they engaged in the thoughtful preparation and intentional investment of time, yet we expect teaching and mentoring to happen effortlessly.
I’ve never thought of myself as a natural “discipler,”—helping another become more like Jesus. How am I, a broken human being, an expert on being like Jesus? I especially don’t think of myself as a natural “mentor,”—helping another become more like me. I feel uncomfortable when I read Paul’s words calling others to imitate him:
Jesus mentored his disciples, that is, he trained them to live as he lived, so they could thrive in his absence. In fact, he practiced mentoring that has the greatest level of influence--the kind that doesn’t revolve around set meetings and formal curriculum. Jesus opened his day-to-day life to his trainees. They shared his eating, traveling, teaching, healing, resting, visiting, and interacting with detractors and devotees alike.
My ideas about mentoring have been shaped (as it is for us all) by my own experiences as the mentee and also as the mentor. Mentor in the dictionary is defined as “a trusted counselor or guide; one who acts as a coach or tutor.” When I think about mentoring I am reminded of a song by Michael Card, called “The Bearers of Light”
After 15 years of working in business and finance, in the summer of 1999 I left that world in my rear view mirror and drove across the country in a U-Haul in order to shift gears in my life and vocation. I had turned down an opportunity for partnership in the financial planning firm where I worked from 1996-1999 as a result of realizing that I wanted to do more than help people work toward financial freedom. I wanted to journey with them toward true freedom.