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.
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.