Thursday, January 29, 2009

Intentional Mentoring - Part 2

Finding Someone to Disciple/Mentor

In Luke 8 Jesus tells a story about soils. A man throws out seed which falls on the various soils, some on the path and were taken up by birds, some on a rock that died without root or moisture, some fell among thorns and the plant choked and died. Then there was the seed that landed on good soil and yielded crop a hundredfold what was put into it.

Now, in this story the seed is the Word of God. And the different soils are the hearts of men. Some have bad hearts, which will either reject God's Word altogether or hold onto it for a little while before getting distracted, bored, or overwhelmed with the world. So there's bad hearts that won't accept the Word of God, but some... some will accept it and put out a hundredfold what you put into it.

Which one do you think is the best candidate for you to mentor?

I want to share with you how I go about looking for the good soil that is worth investing time into.

The first thing to do is to start praying that God leads you to someone with a good heart whom you can influence. A good heart doesn't equal a good person. In fact, people who have a lot of visible sin in their lives sometimes have great hearts. They don't pretend like the most of us have learned to do. A good heart is just one that deep down wants to change, and who will accept God's Word when it's presented in a way that makes sense to them.

These are the two primary things I'm looking for when looking for someone to mentor:
  • Interest in Spirituality - Notice again from John 4 that Jesus brought up something spiritual, and the woman at the well responded with spiritual questions. I use this same method when feeling people out to see who might be receptive. Bring up spiritual things (not forced) often and see who responds. This is my way of throwing out the seed to see what happens. Even if at first they don't respond, keep praying and talking about God-things. For example, for someone I'm mentoring now, I taught class and he came up to me afterwards wanting to talk about atheism. It wasn't an in-depth discussion by any means, but it showed me he had spiritual interest.
  • Interest in You - It doesn't really matter if someone is interested in spiritual things but they're not interested in you. If they don't trust and respect you, they'll likely not want to meet with you, nor will they listen to what you have to say about life. There's lots of ways you can connect with people, though. In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul talks about "becoming all things to all men." Study that passage. You can connect to others without giving up your identity, integrity, or convictions. For example, one of the guys I'm mentoring now was obviously looking for a role model. He likes converse, and when he saw my converse glasses he thought they were the coolest thing in the world. Well, I used that. That was an entrance into a growing friendship with him. We were friends before we ever studied together.
You really need both of these to mentor someone. The bottom line is that you can't disciple someone who doesn't want to be discipled. If someone is interested in the spiritual but you two don't connect, you're going to have a really hard time mentoring them. Become friends first, no matter how long it takes. If they're interested in you but not the spiritual, use that. Be transparent about your walk with Jesus and spiritual thoughts. Eventually they will either lose interest in you, or you'll influence them to start thinking about important things in life.

Let me just add that at this point I'm usually not concerned with if someone's a "Christian" or not. Most "Christians" don't read their Bibles or think spiritually anyway. Just focus on their heart and you can help them along to Christ, wherever they are in relation to Him. It's easy if you're looking for it.

Once you've found someone you think God has led to you, invite them out to coffee, dinner, or to your home. I'll often ask about their lives and share some about my own, and especially what led to me becoming a Christian. Then I'll ask if they'd like to start meeting (weekly or every other week) and studying the Bible together. Sometimes they're not ready for that. Not a problem. Just keep praying that their heart will be opened, and keep trying to influence them for Christ.

A general rule for me is that I only mentor guys who are younger than me. There's just too many problems in mentoring a female, namely the high risk of her building an unhealthy attachment to me. You can usually find a godly woman who will mentor a girl anyway.

These are just the basics I know, but hopefully this will help give you an idea of some things to keep in mind when looking for someone to mentor.


Esteban said...

Hey Josh, I noticed your facebook message about your blog and had to check it out. I am glad I did. Love your thoughts and ideas.

I really enjoyed part 1 and 2 of your posts. Having been one who is barely stepping foot into ministry I like the insight you give into mentoring and how to go about starting and keeping it going. It helps give me a starting place to shove off from to try and reach out to others. Expecially not having a lot of success so far in how to reach out to people but you have given good ideas on how to approach and not to approach and when and when not to. Thanks for writing and continue on with it. I enjoy reading more.


Chris Johnson said...

Josh, I enjoyed your thoughts about mentoring. The fact is, this is a crucial part of ministry that people don't acknowledge enough. Great ideas man.

alisha dawn said...

Sometimes I forget just how blessed I am to be with you. Thanks for telling us how to mentor and showing me. You help me to be a better God follower!

Joshua Tucker said...

Esteban - Thanks for dropping by bro. I'm really glad you found this helpful and encouraging. I've tried to base this on what I see Jesus doing as well as my own personal experience.

Chris - I totally agree. We've defined "discipleship" as all kinds of things, but we haven't mentored like Jesus did. Thanks for modeling it in a positive way with me and others, bro.

Alisha - :) You help me, too. Thanks for continually encouraging me to be a more active disciple of Jesus.

Tevet said...

Great entry. I am gonna pass this along.
Although I never directly mentored any one young buck, I did invest time into the lives of several young dudes.
I found that my knowledge of God and His Word grew more as I was teaching it. Also, I wasn't just "ministering" to just that kid, but opportunities would arise that would allow me to minister to siblings and parents.
I still have contact with some of the guys I hung out with and it is cool to see them living for Jesus many years later.
BTW, I am confident that Jesus will stir up some 20 something kids to "hang out" with my kids when they reach their teens, because what His word says in Like 6:38
The "cost" of mentoring is inexpensive compared to the "returns"

Paul said...


Ok, your opinion, how do you transition a youth ministry from program based to discipleship focused? Ready go!

Love ya man,


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